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Three Paths

My oldest sister Lindsay always knew she wanted to be a doctor. My middle sister Jennifer graduated at the top of her college class but wanted to be a stay-at-home-mom. I want the best of both worlds.

My childhood was filled with demands from my father to "become a professional" in the future. He didn't care whether that meant becoming a doctor or a lawyer, but my two older sisters and I all knew he only wanted us to pursue one of those avenues. My father is a doctor who has practiced family medicine for thirty years. My mother, a brilliant and skilled woman, chose to forego a personal career to assist my father in his office by filing records and handling insurance. As I grew up, I was torn with how I felt about my mother's decision. On one hand, she was always available to drive my sisters and me to our various after-school activities, pick us up from school when we got sick, and help us with our homework at night. On the other hand, she lost practically all of her independence. When I began high school, my mother stopped driving a separate car to my father's office; instead she would go in with him and not leave until he was ready. I found it difficult to comprehend how my father could be so determined to have his children become professionals, yet allow his own wife to become so submissive.

My oldest sister, Lindsay, claimed she always knew she wanted to be a doctor. Although she had a passion for writing, and was extremely involved in her high school's literary magazine, Lindsay shifted gears in college. She focused on her science major and was accepted to a program that afforded her the opportunity to begin medical school a year early. Following medical school, Lindsay decided to specialize in child psychiatry and is currently in the middle of her residency. Her husband, Jared, is also a doctor pursuing a career in psychiatry. Their plan is to open up a practice together and work full time. This concerns me because my four-month-old nephew currently remains in the hands of a twenty-year-old nanny from 7:30 in the morning until 5:30 in the evening. When I visit with them, I see my sister and her husband taking great care of their son. However, I worry that their budding careers may negatively impact either Tyler's personal development or their relationships as a family.

Ironically, my other older sister, Jennifer, seems to have the opposite goal of Lindsay. Although she graduated both high school and college at the top of her class, she became bored with school. When her fiancé, Scott, was in dental school, Jennifer was only taking classes geared toward getting a masters and PhD in marriage and family counseling because she was passing time while waiting for Scott to graduate. However, upon graduation, Scott decided he wanted to pursue a residency in Orthodontics, and he was accepted to a program in New York. At that time, my sister had received her Master's degree, but chose to exit her program and follow Scott to New York without obtaining her PhD. Instead of continuing with school there, or working at a job relating to her field, my sister has chosen to be a nanny/babysitter for four children in Long Island. Jennifer had always expressed to me her desire to simply raise a family and be a stay-at-home-mom. I must admit, she is amazing with children, so this plan doesn't surprise me, and I know she could provide her family with a lot of love and attention. Even though Jennifer has not expressed her plans to my father, he has already been discussing his disappointment with the rest of our family that she is not obtaining her PhD. I know that my father's heart is in the right place, but he can sometimes be overbearing about his desire for us to be able to sustain a lifestyle where we would not have to be dependent on a man for financial support.

As for me, the challenge will be to have the best of both my sisters' worlds. I'm not quite sure what has driven me down the path of becoming an attorney--maybe it is a combination of my father's pressure during my childhood coupled with my own volition and passion for the law. Either way, I know I plan to be successful in my legal profession and also be a good wife and mother to my future family. In my perfect world, I see myself balancing both desires. I believe that today's society is more tolerant of women working as professionals and simultaneously raising families, and I certainly hope that this "tolerance" progresses into normalcy in the near future. As conflicted as I was with my mother's decision, I am comforted in knowing that I can teach my future children that women do not have to choose between having a professional career or having a family. I plan to show them this is possible through my actions, and hopefully my children will not have to be torn in their opinions the way I had been about my mother's lifestyle.

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