Jump on that train

March 29, 2010

The train lumbers to a stop and lets me out. I don’t even cast a glance back at the tired-looking people in their button-downs and khakis. I sniff the fresh air and step into the open, smiling at my choice of stops. I am home. I am where I belong.

After a while, though, I begin to miss that train. I don’t really want to get back on, but I look at it longingly from time to time. Some good times were had on that train. Things were accomplished there. It was going somewhere. This spot is beginning to feel a bit dull. If that train leaves, I’ll be trapped here forever with no sense of destination.

The whistle blows and the train slowly grinds toward the next destination. Panic. What should I do? Get back on the train or stay here? I like it here. But I’m being left behind. Some of my friends are on that train. They’re going on without me, towards their futures. Where is my future? What does it look like? The train picks up a little speed, and I jog next to it, debating what to do. Don’t leave me behind!

I take a closer look at the cars. Some are filled with smiling moms and laughing babies. Others are filled with men and women in power suits with phones glued to their ears. Some are filled with adventurers and travelers. That one looks cool, I’d like that. The next car I see is one filled with people with a clear sense of purpose on their faces. They all look different–some are in doctors’ clothes, some are in hippie clothes, some are in those god-awful sweaters with apples that teachers sometimes wear, some are in suits, others are not. But they all have found meaning in what they are doing. THAT’s the car I want to ride in. I jump on and hang tight. This train is faster than I thought! Looks like I got on just in time.


Life is like a train, and you’re either on it or you’re not. What that train looks like varies from person to person, but you either feel like you’re on the train or you’ve been left behind.

That’s how I would describe my journey towards law school. Even though I didn’t decide to go for it until a year ago, I’ve been off the train for several years.

I got off the train by choice, because I didn’t like the car I was riding in. And I admit, I enjoyed the rest, the slowing down, the being present. For a time. When I first got off, it was like, “WOW, I needed this!” After a while, though, I got restless. Fidgety. Bored. Unsatisfied. The train was moving out of the station, and I wasn’t on it.

On December 28, 2001, I quit my technical writing job to become a stay-at-home mom. My daughter was almost three and I was pregnant with my second child, and as a young mom, I desperately wanted to do the right thing and be there for my kids, 24/7. To this day, I believe it was the right thing, at the right time, for the right reasons. I have never regretted turning away from a career I didn’t really like in order to raise my kids myself. My daughter had been in day care for nearly three years and I swore I would never put a child in day care again — and I didn’t.

In the following years I began to build relationships with other moms and attend things like MOPS and playgroups. It didn’t take long to realize I didn’t have much in common with the other moms, though. While they seemed to find endless conversations about potty training, sleep habits and birthday parties to be fascinating, I longed for friends I could carry on serious conversations with.

I really hit my stride when my oldest daughter started Kindergarten. I met a lot of different types of moms at that time, many of them through the Girl Scout troop I started to lead. Some of them worked, part- or full-time, some of them didn’t. Most of them were older than me, some by quite a lot. Many had older children or had blended families. And since that time, I’ve been very content with my social life, and I believe that being a SAHM helped me develop my best friendships that I would have missed out on if I’d been working.

But as my kids got older, I felt that train starting to pull out of the station. It was slow at first. I looked for things to do, hobbies to take up, freelance work to fill my time. When my son (my youngest) started preschool, I decided to take a part-time job not only to help pay for the school, but also to get me out of the house. I was going stir-crazy. By that time, I knew that domestic bliss was not for me. I hate cooking and cleaning. I love reading and thinking and analyzing. I was sick of not feeling productive. I have to get out of the house every day or I start to feel trapped and isolated. As my kids were getting older, I knew it was time to get on that train.

The train really started picking up speed about two years ago. It was a difficult time because even though I knew I wanted to get back on the train, I didn’t know which car to pick. I wanted to finish my bachelor’s, but then what? Work or more school? The economy sort of helped with that decision. There are few to no jobs in writing/editing right now anyway, even if I did want to pick that car, which I didn’t. So then, what type of degree to get? One year ago from now, I was in a Brit Lit class and loving every minute of it. I was back on the train, and it really felt good.

As I sifted through my few options for grad school, I really questioned whether I was crazy to even think I could do law school. But it was sort of making sense. I mean, I learned from Bit Lit that I’m a very good reader and good at analyzing. I am very interested in politics and follow it fairly closely and I’ve always been curious about how our laws affect our freedoms. While I hate creative writing, I learned that I can write a good essay and complex writing doesn’t intimidate me like it used to.

And then, I told myself, I am just as smart as those people and smarter than a lot of others, so if they can do it, why couldn’t I? I’m no genius, but I’m smart and I’m a hard worker. Dumber people have done a lot more with a lot less.

I’ve picked my car and I’m back on the train. I’ll be honest, I’m still terrified that I picked the wrong car. But I’m on the train. I’m excited about that, and it feels great!



  1. Awesome story!

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  3. […] My motivations are spelled out here and here and here: […]

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