From Law Practice to Soccer Practice :: One Mom’s Decision to Ditch the Rat Race

Once upon a time, I was a successful attorney. I wore fancy suits, most of them black, and expensive shoes with obnoxiously high heels. I had a secretary and a driver on speed-dial, and I spent much of my time flying back and forth to New York where I closed deals valued at obscene amounts. Driven and ambitious, I gave new shine to the term “obsessive-compulsive” “Type A.”

I held all sorts of opinions about what it means to be a woman and glass ceilings and feminism, not to mention the view that women who sidelined themselves to become mothers just made the road that much more difficult for the rest of us who were actually working. “I mean, ugh, mothers, am I right?”

And then I became one.  And the scales fell from my eyes.

As time wore on and the time I spent at home began to hold more purpose for me than the time I spent at the office, my worldview slowly turned upside down. The endless stacks of paper, conference calls, meetings, and posturing felt increasingly less meaningful as I watched a miracle unfolding right in front of me … the miracle of a little life, a person complete unto himself taking shape before my very eyes. Every day opened a new window into this little creature’s existence, and I felt a strong pull to focus on the “other” job to which I had been assigned, the job of raising this little being.

I constantly felt pulled in two different directions and unsuccessful at both. I could be a driven and talented lawyer, or I could be a loving and ever-present mother, but I could not do both as well as I wanted to. I know there may be women who can be all things to everyone and manage to keep it all together, but that is not me.

So I made a drastic change. I left my firm and became a stay-home mom to my oldest son. I had no idea what I was doing when that decision was made, but I think deep inside, I felt it was the only choice I could make. And I had no idea what I was in for.

In many ways it was exactly what I imagined. We filled our days with trips to the zoo and playground. We read all the books and played with all the toys, and I kissed every single skinned knee myself, in person, at the time it happened.

But there was so much for which I was unprepared, so much I never expected. It took me years {and not just one or two} to get over that decision and to own the choice I made in a way that allowed me to hold my head high. I was doing exactly what I needed to be doing, what was right and good in my mind, and what I wanted to be doing, but that does not in any way mean that it was not a complete overhaul of life as I knew it.

If you are contemplating a similar move, I would like to share a few things with you, so that you will approach it with more information than I had, and maybe the profound identity crisis will pass more smoothly for you. And I hope it does because on the other side and three children deep, I do not have a single doubt that I made the best choice, and I would not trade a day of the last 8 1/2 years for all the accolades and fully-funded retirement accounts one could offer.

You will still have to deal with irrational people all day long.

One of the things I have not had the chance to miss about the legal profession is dealing with self-centered, irrational individuals on a daily basis. When I took the off-ramp on the lawyer fast track, I thought I would get a pass on arguing myself into a brick wall with people who utterly fail to see reason and are completely driven by self-interest, but no … toddlers … and then preschoolers … and then children … and then pre-teens. And that’s where I am now, but I’ve seen little improvement thus far. But…

You will miss dealing with adults.

For a long time I was surrounded by adults all day and then came home to my little one and entered the world of a child. The next morning I left the child and went back to the adults. I had a relatively vibrant social life at the office, as most women do. There have been many days in the past few years where, aside from the occasional brief conversation with my husband, I have not dealt with a single adult the entire day. And that’s hard y’all. The loneliness can be really rough because even though you are never really alone and your kids are always with you, there is that awkward feeling of being alone in a crowd. You’re surrounded by people {the best, snuggly kind}, but there is nobody around who is “like you.” Nobody else can laugh with you about your favorite trashy reality television show or even wipe their own butt.

Your friend circle will profoundly change.

I have a set of friends who have been my BFFs since law school. They are truly my forever friends, and the changes we have all gone through in our lives, our interests, and our focus haven’t really affected our friendship. But for all of my other friends, much of our friendship was based on shared interests, shared background, shared education levels, socio-economic status, and sometimes even just shared space, and as time went by and we had less in less in common, those friendships faded away. But … you will make new friends. Making friends is always so much more difficult later in life, but it does happen. My friendships now are much more diverse {in age, education, background, etc.} than the ones I had when I was working all the time, which has also opened up my world dramatically and changed me for the better. It’s nice to have a few friends who are not lawyers! When I left the legal profession, I was under the horribly mistaken assumption {and I’m profoundly embarrassed to have once held this belief} that women stayed home with their kids because they lacked the education necessary to do otherwise. I was so wrong. Since that time, I have met so many women who chose stay-home motherhood over myriad opportunities because they feel it is the most necessary of all opportunities.

People will treat you differently.

This one is still a bit of a shocker to me, although it seems quite obvious. It’s one of those things that should not happen, but it does … all the time. I am routinely treated differently as a stay-home mom by everyone from my kids’ former school teachers and administrators to the grocery store checker. Maybe it’s the difference in attire {People will always treat you more respectfully when you’re wearing a suit than when you’re wearing the same gym clothes you had on yesterday.}, or maybe it’s that they are making the same horrid assumption I previously held that either you lack an education or you lack a brain because if you had any combination of the aforementioned, you’d be out in the “real world” doing something “productive.” We won’t go into the fact that raising humans is one of the most challenging, not to mention productive {with potential benefits to humanity as a whole, I might add} occupations one could choose. This one is tough because you have no control over it, so just swallow any pride you have and move on. You know what’s in your heart.


All of these things can and will take their toll on a person. And on the rougher days you will probably catch yourself thinking about them or the negative aspects of them more than on the happy days. Or maybe you’re more flexible in your expectations than I was.

But take heart Sister… If you are feeling that pull towards home and your babies, know that the transition may be rough, but you will come out the other side of it. And the rewards you will find there will be endless. Those rewards will be covered in kisses and popsicle drips and sweat from that hike you just finished at the Arboretum, gripping tiny, damp, dirty fingers in yours. Those rewards will come in the shape of your favorite spot at the zoo and mornings of cartoons without a required stopping time. They will come in the sound of first words and overheard songs and whispers in the library. They will last more than a lifetime … in fact, those rewards will last at least two lifetimes and, I’m willing to bet, even more.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here