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Thursday, October 26, 2006

October Rain

For some time now I have been feeling an impending shift in my life. Something is pulling at me, it may be the onsight of graduation or the soon to be engagement/marriage to Boyfriend; but something is churning and I'm not sure if it's a good thing or not.

Let me explain.

The plan was always the same. Graduate from State U, join the Peace Corps for two years, return to America with some perspective that can only come from extended time in a third world country being thankful for clean water. Go to grad school (Northeastern is my number one choice, after that it's Columbia and NYU, respectively) for a JD/MSW-- law degree and masters in social work. After that, go work for a Non-profit organization somewhere in NY, think ACLU, JDL, you get the picture. After my career and before retirement I wanted to start a motivational community outreach program for the benefit of underprivileged children in urban areas. Think "Boys and Girls club" but more in your face.

Then I met Boyfriend. Slowly, things started to change.

Gone first was the idea of the Peace Corps. Boyfriend has Type 1 juvenile onset diabetes, and is unable to join the Peace Corps, the Military; hell, he can't even go on a reality show. Second thing to go was the idea of grad school in New England. You don't work while you're in law school, and while I could live in the dorm's or some other form of University provided housing, Boyfriend would have to uproot his life and career to (try) and make it on the other side of the country. Finally, the notion of moving to NY to practice was gone as well. We have a huge pit-bull and they need room, a yard, space to run around in. I don't think having a 110lb machine of a dog in Manhattan is really a good idea.

This poses the next question: babies. Should I have babies? Do I even want babies? I like to think I do, but when would I have time? If I graduate from State U and go directly to Law School, I'll graduate (finally) when I'm 30. Putting in 2 years wherever I work (assuming I get hired right out of Law School) makes me 32 before I try and take maternity leave.

I don't want to be 50 when my children graduate High School.

Everything is just so confusing right now. Is the notion of love more important than personal career choices. If I take the career path am I going to regret it later on? If I take the family path, am I going to resent Boyfriend, and possibly my children, later on?

What am I supposed to do!!!

Is everything this confusing???

Is it just me, or does anyone else feel like they are barely hanging on to the kite strings of life, desperately attempting to anticipate the changing wind; and yet falling short every time?

Is it possible to "have it all"?

Do I even want it all?

Sorry to bother everyone with this, I just thought maybe I could gain some more perspective if I put this out there.

Best of luck to you all,

Waitress

65 Comments:

Blogger October said...

Everyone has doubts about where their life is headed. The important thing to remember is life fluid. You have Boyfriend, and it sounds like he would support you with any decision you would make. Since you've already decided you want to be with him, perhaps social work is more up your alley than the whole law school/peace corps thing. There are a lot of kids out there who could use your help.

10:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The thing about life is it doesn't always work out according to your plans.....and that's ok! The only thing you can do, is do what's right for you at the time. While you can't pretend the future isn't affected by why you do now, do what feels right in the present. And as for the whole age/kids thing...my parents were 50 when I graduated high school, and they were great parents. And I never once thought of them as old (if indeed that is your concern).

10:45 AM  
Anonymous mara said...

i'm actually going through a very similar thing myself. i love my boyfriend very much but at the same time i dont like how much i've given up in my career path to be with him. part of me doesn't feel complete as a person. i want to be successful in the world and yet have a family. its hard to find the balance between the two. perhaps, you need to really sit down and prioritize what you really want maybe you'll see things clearer and you can decide how to compromise things or what to choose. because the last thing you want is to feel unfulfilled or resent your family. maybe you can start an outreach program where you live or something like that? and having kids later on is fine, medicine has greatly improved in that area if that's your worry. hope this helps.

love your blog!

10:48 AM  
Blogger Shell said...

i believe that love is the most important thing in the universe. when you have true love, you have everything that you will ever need

10:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the above person. My mom was fifty and my dad was even older when I graduated high school, and my sister's STILL in high school with a couple years to go. Being fifty doesn't have the same stigma it used to.

Besides, in the area of social work there's so much you can do without needing a law degree. There are kids everywhere that need help.

10:51 AM  
Anonymous BBill said...

Hi Waitress,
Found your blog via waiterrant a few weeks ago, really enjoy your writing. I think everyone goes through these crossroads in life, some may not recognize them, but those who do can really struggle with them. I can only offer that after have my twin boys I can not imagine what life would be like with out them. Yes, they are a lot of work but you are rewarded ten fold. The career path you had in mind is definitely noble, and with some modification still attainable to some degree with kids. I wish you clear thoughts on what direction you want your life to go and the strength to go for it, but please do keep writing.

10:52 AM  
Blogger Historical Wit said...

ahh the crossroads of life. Why do people say that they came to the crossroads? Life is a crossroad. Always intertwining with other roads leaving you with your own unique ball of knots. But I digress, I joined the army months out of high school to go to college so by the time I paid for college on my own and working full time to make ends meet, I didn't want to go to grad school. But I can say this, just get involved in a program helping kids. If your lucky enough like me you could get hired to do that job. I was laid off a little over a year later, but damn! what a year can do for you. I worked withkids at risk and the program I was in got its funding cut. But when we were up and running, we were doing really good things. We saw some really bad shit, but its not what you know, its the time you put in. So get involved. Straight up. That job broke my heart and gave me a sense of greatness all at once. Honestly if you want to help programs like that, learn how to write grants. Its all about the funding. Get that masters in social work, it will be the key for a leadership position and to really control the life of a program, the dedicated people need to be in those positions. A masters coupled with keen grant writing skills will get you much farther than a law degree. That comes from a view on the inside.

Boyfriend will work itself out. If it is to be marriage, so be it. I had no ambitions about a wife or family, but I met a woman and bam it was on. we were both in our 30's so we kind of knew where we wanted to go with the sense of family. First and foremost it was about having a good person as your mate. And thats an answer only you know because you live with him and know him better than he knows himself. If you look at my blog, you can tell I am ate up with daddyhood.

look me up if you want to chat more about it. You got time, think it out.

11:18 AM  
Anonymous Tacoma said...

Hi Waitress,
I'm 32 right now and I'm pretty cool knowing I'll have a kid who graduates when I'm fifty. Fifty's the new forty, and 32 is the new 22, I'm practically too young to have children.
Of course allot of the pressure comes from what family and friends are doing, if they're all having kids at a younger age it looks desirable. Just think of those kids as your future kids baby sitters.
Also, when you go into law there will be a community of women in your situation so you'll be able to see how they handle it.
Lastly, the whole kid and lawschool think HAS been done, but it's REALLY hard.

11:24 AM  
Blogger The Home Cook said...

I'm dealing with this right now. I'm not happy with my job (it's very unfulfilling and almost a complete departure from what I've always wanted to do and was doing right out of college). On top of that my husband and I are buying a house in 6 weeks. We want to start a family sooner rather than later (he's 6 years older than me) but I want to find a new job and get settled there before we start trying.

I don't think our lives ever work out the way we planned when we were younger and every possibility was stretched out before us, our's for the taking. It sounds like you have a loving Boyfriend who will support your decisions. Take the time to really sit down and think about what you want to do and what you need to do with your life. Make a list of what is important and discuss your plans with your Boyfriend.

You'll figure it out. I keep telling myself that in order to get through each day. :)

11:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is no wrong decision, because you will never know what would have happened if you had made the other decison. Don't try to analyse life too much. It comes and goes very fast and you have to trust your gut feelings whatever they may be, and however they may change. No matter how much you analyse and plan, you never know when life will through you a giant curve ball and change everything you had planned. I am sure with your determination and energy, whatever you decide will work out.

11:31 AM  
Anonymous Stephen said...

I am a law student that will be 29 when I graduate, so it's pretty refreshing to hear that other people are having the same quandaries. Please know you're not alone.

Best wishes any way you handle it.

11:37 AM  
Blogger INNER VOICES said...

here is something some people may have forgotten about... what was your boyfriends initial attraction to you? why is he still atrracted to you now? if you sacrifice the things you want just to be with him, are you still going to be attracted to each other later? was it that you are hot and great in the sack? or was it that you are smart, goal oriented, etc. and great in the sack?
you said you did not want to resent your choices... if he were to give up his current carrer for you, would you love him more? is that what you want... if you plan on spending the rest of your lives together, why wont he wait for you to live abroad? exp. military people sometimes leave for extended periods of time.years.
peace corps is cool but there are many other organizations out there that dont require so much time and where your skills may be of more use..
i agree with OCTOBER, perhaps there are other avenues of employment that might fit both your needs...
you dont have to sacrifice anything for love!!! it should only help you get to where you both want to go!
youve got a lot on your plate with a huge amount of goals, sit down with the b.f. and compile both of your desires and see where the solution guides you...
if it was easy it wouldnt be life..

11:44 AM  
Anonymous ~Jana said...

So here it is. The ugly truth of it no one wants to face: It makes ABSLUTELY NO DIFFERENCE what decision you make. The Universe is an odd duck... you will end up exactly where you are SUPPOSED to doing exactly what was designed for you no matter what road you choose. Sometimes it just takes longer! One more thing to ponder: not sure you want kids? Do you know for certain that you CAN even though all is right and perfect? Interesting...Go with your gut. The Universe will put you where you belong irrespective of your choice. The Gut Thing just makes the decsions easier to stomach!

11:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nothing wrong with waiting. My parents and my sister had kids late and it worked out better because they were/are more financially secure and more mellow which is better than being a confused 25 yr old parent. My sister is 39 with a 16 month old, try that on for size.

I say do ur career and get married. It'll all fall into place with a few compromises.

11:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can relate...I am 29 and in my 2nd year of law school. After trying to think through a good time to have kids, my husband and I recently decided to just go ahead and start. There is never a good time, so you may as well go after what you want. It will be hard, but I think we can handle it.

As far as law school goes, if what you really want to do is start up a non-profit and work with kids, the combination of an MSW and an MBA is much more helpful.

If you do decide to go to law school, just make sure you remember that your goals are good ones. There is a tremendous amount of pressure in law school to go the big firm route, and it is easy to feel like you're not living up to your potential if you don't do it.

Good luck!

11:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Longtime reader, first time commentor. My folks are 60, I am 34 and my little brother just graduated high school this year. All my friends want to be in my family because they love my parents, they don't act 60 at all. I think having my brother kept them young. They still come out and party with us, mom loves her tequila! So, I'm basically saying, don't let the age thing scare you. Take your time and do what you want, everything will fall into place.

11:59 AM  
Blogger Secret said...

I am a senior in college too and facing a lot of the same problems. I have a boyfriend who isn't sure if he wants to go to grad school or not, and if he does it will mean that he'll only be in the US for a year before going out of the country. His concern is that he doesn't want to leave me behind, so he's considering giving up the grad school idea. Of course, I'm not sure I want him to give his opportunity up, because that seems like it might be a recipe for disaster later on.
Meanwhile, I'm pretty sure I want to go to grad school at some point, after taking a couple of years off, but I don't know what I want to study, and if the boyfriend did stay behind, then how could I justify heading off to grad school myself after a few years?
I keep having panic attacks about how we are probably going to get split up after this year...and we made it through four years of college so well, even after going to different (but close) universities. But I'm taking it one day at a time, and telling myself that because I'm taking a year or two off, I can afford to be flexible.
Just wanted to let you know that I feel your pain (and like your blog), and that worrying is something we all do, but I know that we will both manage to find the best solution for ourselves in the end.

12:07 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

A few years ago (I am 27 now), my dad gave me one of the greatest insights into "adulthood" that I've ever heard. Here's the way he told it to me:

"When I was little, I saw my parents as the grown ups who knew how to do everything and what decisions to make. As I got older, married, and had a child, I kept wondering when I would be that 'grown up' who knew what the right decisions were. The day I realized that we never become the people we thought our parents were, that's the day I felt grown up. It turns out that we're always looking for the right answer, always flying by the seat of our pants, and always hoping that we made the right decisions. It's the best anyone can do."

I think back on that advice often, and it brings me great comfort. I hope it helps you some. Do what feels right in your gut, like some others have said. Everything else WILL work itself out. Eventually.

12:30 PM  
Blogger Alessandra said...

Waitress, I think it really depends on what you call "all". What are your expectations on kids, marriage, career? Because you can do all (my parents did, they worked a lot and I never thought they failed me as parents because of that. Beeing present in a kid's life doesn't mean you have to be phisicaly there), just not everything perfect. It all gives a little. Good luck with making your decisions, wish they make you happy!

12:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sometimes the things that we weren't expecting end up just changing our focus. At the beginning of my twenties I thought I'd be married with kids by 25 and done with college, working as a high school English teacher. Now I'm 29, a newlywed with kids off in the future by 32 or so, I'm a sophomore in college going 3/4 time going for a special ed. degree (mentally ill) and then a MSW to do crisis counseling with teens. And I'm happier than I would have been had I done what I planned.

12:54 PM  
Anonymous Ted Lemon said...

You really can't plot your life like this. You could be hit by a truck next year, in which case most of what you're talking about won't happen. You could live to be a spry 90-year-old, in which case having your kids graduate when you're 50 won't be a problem, in retrospect.

The main thing is to take care of the person you are now. Don't spend your life working on being happy next year. Make sure what you are doing now is the way you would have wanted to spend the last year of your life, in case the truck does hit you. Make sure you don't totally shaft yourself in case you make it to that spry 90-year-old.

But mostly, know that wherever you are at 32, if it's where you were expecting to be, you've probably failed, because you haven't grown. You can't do the peace corps? You don't have to go to Africa to help people in need. There are some in your bar, but there are a lot more outside of it, in your city.

1:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a current Peace Corps volunteer who reads your blog. Trust me, the experience is worth it. I don't recommend giving up that dream. As for the clean water, you get issued a filter, no worries.

1:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My wife graduated from Veterinary school recently at the age of 29. It will be a few more years before we have any kids, and I'm OK with that as long as we can keep ourselves in shape. I knew going into our relationship what she wanted to do with her life, and have supported her all the way. Hopefully Boyfriend has the same attitude.

The Peace Corp may not be a viable option now, but Law School still might be. It seems like there is a Law School on every corner these days, so what about considering one closer to home? It may not be as prestigeous, but at many of the schools the education is just as good. The social work is important anywhere. There are messed-up kids all over the country, not just in NY.

It sounds like you are a very intelligent woman, so I'm sure you will make a good choice. Best of luck to you. Thanks for all the interesting stories, and I look forward to more.

1:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think some people feel that a law degree some how makes you more "legitimate." however, i work in an environment with lots of lawyers and social workers, and i assure you, the social workers have a much better grasp of public policy and how best to help kids than the lawyers. if your ultimate goal is to do outreach for at-risk kids, there's no reason to put that off.

also, if you feel like you need to give back but you aren't ready to move to a third world country, look into americorps. they have all sorts of placements all across the country in high needs areas. it might expose you to the field you're interested in and help you decide your next step.

2:18 PM  
Blogger Cynthia said...

I think it is possible to have it all. Just because you have true love doesn't mean you have to give up ALL your dreams. It is good to compromise, but it sounds like you really want to be a lawyer. If you didn't, it wouldn't be such a struggle. If you really do want kids (and it's not a crime not to), more and more women are waiting until later in life to have babies. Some women don't have their first baby until 35. It's not that uncommon anymore.

2:18 PM  
Blogger Lala said...

Life won't work out how you planned it. Keep to your morals and principles in your decisions and you will end up in a place that works with your dreams.

You can't dream the life you want. Just remember the reasons you wanted to do what you wanted to do...

Assumptions:
1. You want to be with boyfriend
2. You want to help children

Both of those things are important in the fabric of who you are. So look at life and the options you have.

What stays true to those?

Maybe start the out reach program without the law school? Could you get funding? Just an idea.

2:23 PM  
Blogger SkippyMom said...

Wow!
I remember these kind of days and quandries - but I would like to let you in on a little secret regarding having kids - besides the fact the we [personally] think it is great, it is hard to put a time limit on it as "I don't want to be 50 when my kid graduates from HS." I told SKH that I wanted all my kids by the time I was 30 - and we had 4 by that time [2 each] and I thought I was good to go - until I got pregnant and gave birth 12 days before my 31st birthday. Now that makes me 48 when she graduates from HS and it makes Hubby 58 - and? He is at every game, recital, party - he fishes, coaches soccer - and doesn't look a day over 40 - no one mistakes her Daddy for grandpa.

I know it is hard when you are in your mid twenties to look so far ahead and not think of of 50 and 60 as old, but it honestly isn't that bad...seriously - My MIL [and best friend] is 74 and she is the hardest working, on the ball, astute, beautiful person I have ever seen - there is no slowing her or my FIL down....

Okay - I am making a post out of this - but you have an excellent head on your shoulders and a lot going on. You can attempt to plan out the future, but sometimes, as we all know, life throws curves and they completely change what we thought we were going to do.

Definitely use a plan for the future, but if you are serious about marrying the boyfriend then you are going to have to change the plan a bit [which you realize] - but you are well on your way to a great marriage if you are willing to compromise to "keep him around". ;D

Marriage isn't 50/50 - Marriage is when both partners give 100% - and truth, honesty, trust and compromise play just as big a role as love.

I know you will make great decisions, but just remember that not everything should be written in stone....sometimes the best of the unexpected happens when your plans go astray.

Hugs! [sorry this was so long!]

2:46 PM  
Anonymous Rebekah said...

You're very brave to solicit life advice from complete strangers. My heart actually aches for you. I remember feeling very strange and confused prior to my college graduation, and I didn't even have plans like you do. You seem to be a very ambitious woman, Kudos! I've been married almost (next month) four years, and dated my husband for five prior to our marriage. He is absolutely my best friend and I can't imagine my life without him. Several years ago I made a decision to leave the corporate work environment and be one of those "self-employed" types. I sacrificed income, no question. But I really enjoy my life. I still sometimes question my decision and wonder if we'd be better off if I made more money. But more money for what? My husband and I still do not have children (I'm 30, he's 31) and I know people are starting to wonder. (No, we're not taking any measures to prevent a pregnancy.) But I think the older I get, the more I learn and the more capable I feel of raising children. 30 is not old! I still feel (and sometimes party) like I'm 21. And if people wonder, screw 'em! Our belief is that children are gifts and we will be blessed with them when the time is right. I guess my point is that my husband and I are content with our lives. We love each other, where we live, our pets, our lives in general. And anything else that's given to us will be blessings. Having a plan for your life is great. But life is a journey, an experiment, and a teacher. Sometimes you learn a lot by taking that unknown road. And speaking from the daughter of an attorney, I can tell you it's totally possible to get through law school after children. It's not easy, but it can be done. My dad, now at 57, has his own very successful practice and couldn't be happier. But he has also gone through a lot of shit to get where he is, including losing his job for a number of months. Sorry this is so long, your words moved me and I felt compelled to respond. I wish the best for you and you will find clarity in your confusion.

2:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can relate... My wife and I didn't get married until I was almost 31... we waited a year before we tried to have children... We now have two girls, and I just turned 38. So I'm guessing my kids will be graduating high school when I'm over 50.. Would I change anything about it? Nope...

As for law school, I have an uncle who was 40 before he even went to law school.. and was the father of 4 kids.

Life is what happens while you're making plans... go for it!
ciao,
M

3:00 PM  
Blogger WendyKat said...

i always thought i knew what i wanted. then i realized it wasn't what i wanted but more what i thought everyone wanted for me. and now, i know what i want... and oddly it's what i thought i knew i wanted all along, only it's with a different person in a different country.

there is now accounting for life. life plans should simply be guidelines.

i've learned to go where my heart is happy and everything else will work itself out.

good luck.

3:03 PM  
Anonymous D said...

Waitress, I am in my first year of law school. I will be 29 when I graduate, and am the married mother of two (considering another once 1l year is done).

I will make only one advisory comment, never feel as though there are only two paths in life, the two paths set forth by those who have gone before. You can blaze your own pathway, whether it involves children while a student, or beginning anything else. Don't put limitations on yourself!

I never figured I'd get to realize my dream of law school after I got married. But with a strong support system from my husband and our families, it's happening.

It may not be possible to "have it all." I mean, I probably won't be number 1 in my class, and big law won't be interested in my most likely. But I strongly feel you can have ENOUGH, even if it's not ALL.

Live well and be content!

6:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My mom had me and my brother (her first kids!) when she was forty-two, so lesee... she's nearing 60 now, as I near 20. She was an excellent mom, and the age difference is kind of nice; my mom and I don't wear the same clothes, like the same bands, or watch the same dumb TV, and that has definitely helped me have more respect for her than all of my friends with "young" moms. Just a thought!

7:10 PM  
Blogger Semi-Celibate Man said...

Great post! Two thoughts:

1. I'm 46, and chasing around a 2nd grader!

2. I had plans, got thrown a huge curveball, and am doing good things I never would have had any idea I'd be doing. It's okay. The only constant is that I've been with my wife 29 years now. Two adopted kids. It's our life, and it doesn't matter if I would have wanted to change anything or not. Life happens to you no matter what your plans are.

7:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My mom didnt have me until she was 36 and I am the oldest child. So don't worry about being old as a parent. I can tell you I never lacked for anything as a child because of my parents age.

8:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations Waitress! You are reeeallly entering adulthood now. That time you are mature enough to realize the goals you have planned may not be the way you end up going. I am still not mature enough to figure out my future, as it certainly hasn't gone the way I started out and I am 38! :-) Egad, I remember thinking my mother was so old at that age.

You are just starting your life and will learn that what you are feeling right now we all feel very often. "How, exactly, did I end up here?" has been a common discussion with my dh lately.

Best of luck and happy trails...
from an old lady... (who still gets carded, btw)

8:22 PM  
Anonymous Meganann said...

de-lurking to say that I would read Creating a Life: What every woman needs to know about having a baby and a career by Sylvia Ann Hewlett

I know that you are quite young and maybe not thinking of having children right now, but it is helpful to have this perspective (very pro-baby while you are young) as food for thought. Another I liked is called Midlife Crisis at 30 . Which is about how in this generation, all of the "important" choices happen around 30, while in previous generations kids, job, marriage, house etc were a bit more spread out. Now they all happen at once.

P.s. I also really enjoy your writing, so thanks for the blog!

8:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm currently in my 3rd year of law school, and I feel I have to weigh in here. One aspect of this whole puzzle you should consider is the cost of law school. So many people go to law school wanting to get into social work or other pro bono work, but law school costs a tremendous amount. I'm going to owe 60,000 dollars when I graduate, and that's public school in-state rates. I pretty much have to go and get the highest-paid job I can to pay all this back. That rules out social work as a viable career for many years. Are you willing to make the sacrifice of putting your goal off for even longer? I personally recommend Law School Confidential b/c it lays out a lot of things to consider before deciding on law school. Good luck on your decision.

11:41 PM  
Blogger Mercurial Sailor said...

"Is it just me, or does anyone else feel like they are barely hanging on to the kite strings of life, desperately attempting to anticipate the changing wind; and yet falling short every time?"

This is very good writing. I believe that their are two basic approaches to the broader questions of who one is, and what one should do in life:

1. Be complacent about it. Let life come at you as it will. Just don't wake up in 20 years and wonder what would have happened if.....

2. Agressively try to figure out where those winds will blow next. Tear your hair out trying to figure out the next best move. Just don't wake up in 20 years and wonder what would have happened if.....

Most people cycle through these at different times in their lives. Life is certainly too rich an experience to ever have it all!

12:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Waitress, law schools will always be there...trust me, they won't disappear.

And you don't have to be a lawyer to help kids.

I don't know about Peace Corps, but in my country, they make "misiones" or missions, where people go to poor places to help people in need (groups vary from 10 to 40 people)(in my university, Universidad de Monterrey, they do misiones. Last time they went to Africa for about a month.) Usually it's with a religious group, but you could make your own organization of misiones.

Anyhoo, whatever choice you make, thing will be allright.

12:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

DO NOT READ Sylvia Ann Hewitt, it is nothing but the hysterical rantinngs of a lunatic who delibertaely twisted her findings to suit her needs.

3:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know if this will help much, but my mother decided to go to grad school and get her PhD. before even getting married. Afterwards, once she was married, she decided to get herself a stable career before having kids. Consequently, she didn't have me till she was 34 and I am her first child. She was 52 when I graduated high school, but honestly, that was never a problem, either with her raising me or which her making friends among the younger parents. In fact, what it did was let me know that in my own life, I didn't have to make choices, I could have both a family and a career if I wanted. I'm not saying that everything was storybook perfect, although I did really like my childhood. We always had dinner as a family, more often than not cooked by mom, but since she was getting home after a full day of work and then cooking dinner, we usually ate at around 7:30. Not that any of us had a problem with that. I don't know if this helps, but I just wanted to let you know that it is just fine to wait till your 30s to have kids.

5:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Finish school before you have kids. You won't be too old. I just had my first child at 33...

5:38 AM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

Six months ago, I was (almost) right where you are. I finished undergrad in May 2005, did a year of AmeriCorps, and when that was over, had the opportunity to move to Italy to live with a family and teach English. My plan was to finish AmeriCorps, apply to grad school, move to Italy for six months or a year, then return and start grad school. As far as which school to go to, I had the whole country to choose from.

But then I started dating someone in Seattle. Did I want to leave him there and go to Italy? Not really. Did I want to move to another state to go to grad school? Not if it meant leaving him behind. Suddenly my options were more limited. It was amazing what I was willing to give up for a relationship that wasn't even that well established.

Then a funny thing happened. We broke up. I cried for a week. It was so much harder than I ever expected it to be. But between my tears, I realized that I was free to do whatever I wanted, to go wherever I wanted.

I don't want to diminish the importance of relationships or love, but I learned something really important: if you put your dreams on hold for a relationship, you risk resenting that relationship for the rest of your life. Conversly, if the relationship is strong, then you should be able to follow your dreams and still find your boyfriend there at the end, even it it means being apart for awhile, or him having to compromise. You shouldn't be the only one who has to compromise your goals and dreams and adjust your life. For the relationship to work, both parties have to give enough to let the other do the things they're passionate about. And even though it's something nobody wants to think about, what happens if you adjust all your plans for the sake of the relationship, and the relationship ends? Sometimes you have to put yourself first.

It is possible for you to do the peace corps. You can be away from your boyfriend and still be in love. You can visit each other. It's not the same, but do you really want to give up that major life experience?

Grad school in another state? I have a friend in medical school, and she's successfully dating someone who didn't finish undergrad until a year after her and is going to be working in a different city then her. Both have goals, and both are pursuing them. Dating each other doesn't stop them from doing that.

If you give up your dreams now, how will you feel about it in thirty years? Will you resent the person that you now love because of it?

7:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I Had my son at 31 & while it might slow your carrer path it most certainly doesn't end it. & the sheer unadulterate joy I have experienced with my son would have made living in a hovel worth it. Even now after a very nasty divorce I can't regret anything because It gave me my son. The queestion is not can you have both a career & children It's do you really want both and are you willing to do what it takes to make it work

9:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hello waitress! hello from an Italian fan, all the way from Rome! if you want children and want them with BF go for them now. you'll have time for your career later, besides if you want to deal with youth having children of your own gives you a better perspective. only thing, it's your choice so don't blame others if things don't turn out as you expected. good luck!

10:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Waitress,

I don't blog myself, so I guess there is no way for you to respond to me, but I just wanted to pass on some comforting words. I just turned 30 last week (Friday the 13th actually). I have only recently acquired a boyfriend (who is adorable and hopefully a keeper!) Please don't feel rushed. At the ripe age of 30, I don't feel any different physically then I did at 25. I feel just as young, energetic, and in no hurry to surrender my life to children. I don't plan on doing so until I am in my mid 30s... I look at my sister, who did get married too young, decided to forgo her career and have a baby. She is now divorced, and went through a pre-mid life crisis because she didn't feel like she lived enough as a young person. And I look at my mother, who is a very successful business woman at 55, and she certainly doesn't feel her age! Don't sweat that kind of stuff... just do the things in your life that are important to you now, and your path will figure itself out. Don't think it is a bad thing for your kids to leave the house at 50! It is 70 you should be worried about! Love your blog!

10:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Is it just me, or does anyone else feel like they are barely hanging on to the kite strings of life, desperately attempting to anticipate the changing wind; and yet falling short every time?"

I hear you, all too well. Interestingly I'm on the other end of that decision, and I wish I'd stuck to my original plan. I married a nice guy, but there was a spark there rather than a bonfire, and I haven't gotten a whole lot of support for what I'd like to do with myself. There's obviously more to it than that, but if I have any advice for you, it would be to make sure he will support you in what you want to do, no matter what, and ask yourself if you'll be able to do the same for him. Being married should be a partnership rather than one sided either way. I wish you luck. :)

11:01 AM  
Blogger M. said...

I graduated with a PhD from a very presitgious university when I was just a hair under 30. In my field (biochemistry), we do one or two "post-docs" - essentially we are working our asses off in someone else's lab trying to start our own projects before we go on the job market. I am now 32 and starting my 2nd postdoc. I have a boyfriend, but it's long distance. I too struggle daily with what is more important - career or potential family.

I figure you just put your head down and do your work. You live your life to its fullest every day. You make the best decisions you can based on the information you have at hand, and you go from there. So what if you have a baby while in law school or your early years of practice? I knew a woman who had a baby (to go with her other two children) while working on her PhD. She is now a successful scientist. Yeah, it might be hard, but too bad. If it's waht you want, you just do it and deal.

My latest life crisis is more concerned with my lifestyle than with a career versus boyfriend/family thing. And as such - I make the best decisions I can with the information in front of me, and move on from there.

We all struggle with this, and whatever your life's plan is, well... You're sure to get some curve balls in there. The important thing is being able to handle them with grace and accept the fact that maybe your life plan wasn't the best one in the first place...

Good luck to you in everything!

1:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some suggest you follow your dreams and that if boyfriend is the One he'll understand...What I think is that is such a one-sided, shallow point of view. Face it, if it were you on his shoes, just how much are you willing to wait?

Plans always change, you could be in an accident tomorrow and crippled or you could suddenly switch interests and decide to be an accountant...just whatever you do, give it your best.

5:22 PM  
Blogger 00goddess said...

Everyone does have doubts about big life decisions.

Two things I can say to relive your mind is that a)Manhattan is not the only place to live in New York and b)lots of poeple in NYC have dogs, even big dogs. You just have to be willing to have a dog-walking service AND take your dog for lots of walks yourself. It's my understanding that New York is a great city to have a dog- there are lots of things to do with your dog and you can take them anywhere.

Don't have babies. Have a dog instead.

5:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Life is what happens to you when you are busy deciding what to do with yourself. Children will change your life forever, unalterably - and biologically. You WILL actually change in the process of gestating a child. You will not regret having children. And the most important thing in your life when you get older will always be family and friends.

So plan accordingly!! LOL

If you love the law, get the degree. If you love boyfriend get married and have kids. If there are conflicts get creative and work them out.

Three suggestions: first, do NOT get pregnant and go to law school simultaneously (killer stress!!); and second you might plan to have the kids after State U and before law school. The hardest years to manage are the first two, because infants really cannot be dropped off at childcare, nor should they be. And third, have at least two kids and have them close together, because if you just have one it will inevitably end up a spoiled little brat.

Love your blog, and think you'll make a great mom!

Oh yeah, and the sooner you have it the better your odds of a healthy child. Age increases the odds of birth defects and problems.

5:53 PM  
Blogger Savannah said...

I so understand what you're going through. The Peace Corps and working up through universities for English was /my/ idea. Fortunately, I haven't met my 'boyfriend' yet, but I'll be keeping an eye out for him.

Hang in there; everything happens for a reason.

7:22 PM  
Blogger Ryann said...

it's the reality of our generation... we were raised to have a career, be independent, with ambition and focus... and well now what...

I'm struggling with those questions too... how do I have a career I want and love, that is personally fullfilling and still have the family I've always dreamed of??? I don't know.

But you found your Man. You're a long way ahead of me. Don't worry.

7:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seems like you are postponing/reconsidering all of your plans based on other people (your boyfriend) or animals (your pit bull). It's time to grow a set and do what YOU want...if you want to go to the Peace Corps, and if your boyfriend really loves you, he'll still be there when you get out; likewise law school - if you are making a sacrifice to stay where HE has a career, maybe he can do the same for a couple years. You're a tough woman. Act like it. You can't put your life on hold based solely on everyone else's plans. That's paralysis - not living.

11:56 PM  
Blogger Little Miss Domestica said...

Hey Waitress- Seems like you have lots of good advice. I just wanted to say that I was in a similar position (be a weathly high-powered woman in NYC or live another type of wealthy life on the West Coast) and it wasn't easy to decide. It feels like there are so many people you have to please and who rely on you. I'm sure you'll make a good choice. I think that is the biggest thing I learned - there is no right or wrong choices, just good-for-me ones.

Good Luck and much support to you.

And don't forget - the onky time you truly can't change your choices is after you die.

12:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am wondering the same things, since the earliest I would go to law school is at age 27, getting out at 30. And I'm not the type to have ever wanted kids before, but I know that my boyfriend does, and maybe my views on that will change over time. But I don't think I have the same burning drive that you do to enter the law, so maybe I am alright with jettisoning that plan. Then again, our relationship has survived worse things (this is the second year we've lived in different cities, but we've been together for 6 years so far.) Remember that you can do both, as long as you make some minimal compromises about location (like where you go for law school) so that you can go there.

Also it's true that you might not be with him in another year, but you never know until that point. If he is really supportive, he will make compromises for you too. He's moved for me, and I for him, so it evens out. If there are job openings on the other side of the country, he should make the effort, if you feel that giving up Peace Corps is worth it for him. Good luck and stay true to yourself.

12:24 AM  
Blogger Exaggerating Landlord said...

WOW... Lots of comments.

First off, NYU does have dorms where boyfriend can live with you.

Second, if memory serves me correctly, NYU has a better JD/MBA program than Columbia.

Third, if you're going to do all this, go for broke - take out loans out hte tin tang and live off campus.

OR -

Come to the darkside. Don't become a dogooder lawyer.

Work at a firm, put in your time, same your money, and THEN become a dogooder

2:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, I skipped most of the comments, so perhaps someone else has said this - or even several - but I had to chime in.

THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH BEING 50 WHEN YOUR KIDS GET OUT OF HIGH SCHOOL! I'm 47 and will have one graduate in 2 years, and one in 6 years. And its great. And I'm not even close to the oldest parent - I'm probably about the norm.

Still have plenty of time for everything else in my life. Can't wait for more free time to travel with husband - there are lots of wines out there that I have yet to try!

Don't worry about waiting! You'll be glad you did.

10:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't put your career path on hold for a boyfriend. Maybe I'm being harsh, but if Boyfriend is the right guy for you he'll support your dreams. Also I don't see why you can't go to law school if you have a child; my sister is a law student and many of her classmates have families. I'm not saying it's easy but it is doable. However, I wish you luck w/all your decisions. Love the blog, by the way!

8:28 PM  
Blogger legis said...

The following is my unsolicited advice, which you can use as you wish. I'm someone who has come out the other side of the law school mill and has perhaps another perspective on what you are getting yourself into.

First: You are going to have to give certain things up. It's either hotshot NYC career (which will pay like crazy but suck your time and money, from what I have observed - you'll be working ridiculous hours and paying ridiculous rents), or being close to Boyfriend (which also comes with sacrifices). You can have almost everything, but logistically, you can't have everything. You will have to think practically.

Being from NYC and having gone to law school (although not the fancy pants top tier school you're considering), I actually envy your position. First, you have the chance to go to a well ranked school in your area. I wouldn't knock nonNYC. I have an idea that it is probably more reasonable in price range and in work-time requirements. And you can have a nice big space for your family.

Which decision you make depends on how serious your commitment to Boyfriend is. Are you going to be married or engaged? Therefore you must bring him into your consideration. If you are not married or engaged, then frankly he doesn't have as big a claim on you. Don't give things up for him if you haven't or aren't going to marry him. You might indeed begin to resent him.

Second: if and when you go to law school - go with the ultimate aim of being a public interest atty, but first work in a private firm. Best school you can get into, best firm you can get into. Then you can set yourself up by doing pro bono work, and then segue in to a relatively high level public interest position where you will do much good. Besides staying in law school when I knew it wasn't for me, and not getting top LSATs and getting into at least a lower top tier school, and not getting the best possible grades I could, that is another major mistake I made in my career. I was so focused on going into public interest/government, I forgot that I was going to an expensive private school whose loans I'd have to pay back for a long time. I got into public interest right away, and let me tell you that it is easier to go from private to public than it is to go from public to private. Take a cushy job. Pay back your loans and build a nest egg. Then follow up on all those lofty plans.

Law school is demanding, but from the bit I've read of your blog, you sound as if you are ready to handle demanding situations. Of course, law school is mentally demanding and can be a bit of a mindfuck. You should try and have at least a sketch of a plan when you go. Good luck to you. You sound like you will do fine. Great blog, by the way!

7:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1) If you have any inclination to motherhood, you will NEVER regret the experience. It is the best, most amazing thing ever. I remain in awe of it every day.
2) Most of my peers in their mid to late 30s are just now starting their families. I am surrounded by this. Very common these days.
3) Point #2 is enhanced by the fact that this (mid30)generation is physically younger than the last generation. 50 w/ teenagers is no big deal anymore.

11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just got married and completely sympathize with your confusion.

I was career driven, got my Master's degree by 23, promoted to a supervisory position at my job by 24.

Then I met husband, switched jobs & took massive paycut to move to where he was.

It's totally worth it. I love my work, but it doesn't give me the happiness that my husband does.

As far as the age thing & having kids, I gotta say I agree with you. My dad was almost 40 when I came along. He passed away at 62 years old. Now I wish he'd been in his 20's when I was born so I'd have all those extra years with him.

11:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Waitress -

I just found your blog today via Waiterrant, and I really enjoy your writing. I was faced with the same challenges you are currently looking at. I graduated from college two years ago, and was fully prepared to move to New York and persue my writing carreer. However, my boyfriend of 7 years had other ideas...he was already established in his job and doing well for himself.

I had to make a difficult decision which ultimately ended with us breaking up. Suddenly, the greatest job in the world didn't seem appealing to me at all if he wasn't there to share in my joy.

I decided that having the power career wasn't worth it if it meant that I would be without my best friend, so I moved back to my hometown and concentrated on building our relationship back up.

It took awhile, but I'm happy to say that we got back together and are looking to move in together. While I did give up a job in NYC, I did manage to find a gig at a respectable pub in the metro area close to where I live, and I love it there; much less cut-throat than it was in the Big Apple.

So, in the end I was forced to make some compromises, but it ended up working out after all. Hope this helps with your situation.

8:45 AM  
Anonymous E. said...

This 30s crisis has been a theme this week and my co-blogger and I decided to name it WTF Syndrome, which helps. You're not alone in this. We are actually quite lucky to have the opportunity to even be bothered to wonder, if you look at generations of women before us. For the record my mom had me at 40, and at 32 I have to say my mom is the coolest retired, writing class taking, spanish learning, investment clubber, blogger and 72 year old inspiration to me ever. I never thought she was old, I just bragged to my girlfriends of the full life she had before she had me (and knew genetically I had so much time myself). Recently I complained to her of my ennui and anxiety and she had the best advice: "life is long." You'll do what's right for you if you follow your heart and your instinct. I hope to follow my own advice now.

Love your blog.

10:27 PM  
Blogger the Drunken Housewife said...

32 is NOT old to have kids nowadays, particularly for lawyers. I had my first at age 34, when I was ready to take a break from the world of litigation. 32 seems ancient to you now, far too old to procreate, but when you get there, you'll find yerself still spunky and youthful. (Check my blog out, if you wish, to see the life of a lawyer who procreates in her 30s)

11:15 PM  

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