I’ll never forget what one of the male partners at my law firm told me when I announced my second pregnancy, “I guess this means you’re not coming back.” It wasn’t a question but a statement. After a brief second of shock I defended my career and pregnancy with conviction. Then I went to my office, shut the door, and fought back angry tears. Deep down I felt he was right. How could I practice law with two small children and really find happiness? Many lawyer moms find themselves in similar situations until they one day resign and choose a less demanding career. One that often places them in a situation of underemployed and underpaid. Today I’m sharing a guest post by fellow lawyer mom that ditched the practice of law to pursue happiness. Although this lawyer mom is now happy, her friends and family question her decision. Ever choose happiness over what everyone else thinks you should do? How did you handle it? Share in comments below.
In 2011 I read Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project which set me on the path to conclude that I was professionally unfulfilled. Although I was practicing law at a well- respected firm South of Atlanta, I felt as though I had no control of my career because I was doing something for which I had no passion. In 2012, I decided to leave law practice out of a desire to pursue my interests of becoming an advocate for helping all youth compete to succeed in education and life. I began by volunteering my time knowing that I would create a plan to earn money while doing what I loved. I spent my first year away from work as the President of the PTO of my son’s school which was an amazing experience.
Since that time I have been blessed with extraordinary experiences as a contractor for non-profit organizations that work to effect change in the lives of youth and becoming the managing editor of a great publication, Southern Journal Magazine. One of the greatest benefits of this lifestyle is that I get to spend so much time with my own children (9 year-old son and 4 year-old daughter). Despite eight years in college and three degrees I feel like I am doing what really matters in life- just on a budget.
Everyone does not see it that way and some feel the need to share their unsolicited opinion with me on my career and family choices. Recently I reached out to an old friend to vent my frustrations regarding those who are “concerned”. She too is an attorney that is not practicing law and she listened and provided some sound advice. Despite what it may look like I know in my heart that I am doing the right thing at this time in my life.
Because I have this conversation with professional moms all the time, I know that I am not the only professional that struggles with the idea of being voluntarily underemployed for the sake of raising children or to follow a passion. Now when I say underemployed I mean working in an area where I am educationally or experientially overqualified which consequently comes with a drastic pay cut that does not reflect what my credentials say that I am worth. This situation can be accompanied with feelings of confusion, frustration, underachievement and perhaps a declining self-worth. But what I find is that those feelings only surface when someone “suggests” that I go back to practicing law or that I am too smart to (fill in the blank).
When I am not within earshot of these comments the emotions I feel are typically that of joy, fulfillment, happiness, and purpose. And so three years later, I am at the point now where I realize I have to be okay with my path. I have to trust that I know what is best for me and my family. My type-A personality is forced to give way to the uncertainty that sometimes comes with this life and believe that I am walking out a purpose set for me by God. And most of all I have to know that despite the valleys and peaks of this freelance life I have chosen, my children and family will benefit. At the end of the day I can say that I took the road less traveled and my dreams have not been deferred.
Careshia Moore is a wife and mother of two children (ages 9 and 4). She is a licensed attorney and resides in the South Metro Atlanta area where she is currently the Managing Editor for Southern Journal Magazine. Additionally she is a program administrator for Usher’s New Look Foundation and is active in her community. Educating and exposing youth is her passion and guides her life’s work. Her blog Compete to Succeed is dedicated to her thoughts related to her own parenting experiences, how parents can support youth success and stories of education triumphs.