The Things We Wait For

Every semester for the last two years I’ve printed the 1L xxxx School of Law course schedule and kept it tucked inside a notebook hidden in my purse. I’ve been carrying it around as if the schedule were my own, praying that one day it would be.

In a life which I’ve devoted the better part of to raising a family, my hopes to pursue a law degree has been a secret desire buried twenty years beneath the daily conundrum of kids’ science projects, football practices, mortgage payments, the ups and downs of my husband’s business, and my own nine to five job. When you spend that much time folding laundry and refereeing sibling rivalry attempting law school seems more like a pipe dream and less than a reality. Perhaps even more restrictive of this law school fantasy of mine was that bachelor’s degree I lacked but required if my aspirations were to become anything more than an unsettled yearning in my chest.

Truth be told, I liked to tell myself I was just waiting – waiting for the kids to grow up, waiting for my husband’s business to be stable, just waiting for a “better time” to concentrate on me and not my kids, or my husband, or my job. Waiting for my turn took me close to two decades.  It took that long before I realized my turn would never come until I actually believed my dreams were just as deserving as those belonging to the people whose needs I always put ahead of my own. Of course, that wasn’t as easy as it sounds.

Halfway into my junior year of high school I gave birth to my first son, a premature milestone in my life that would set the tone for the ten years that followed. By 19 years old I added an ex-husband to my growing list of bad decisions. Not long after I discovered I was pregnant with my second son, months before I could legally buy alcohol, not that that deterred me much. By my 23rd birthday I was a single mom, again.

Eventually I reconciled with my youngest son’s father, now my current husband, but not until after he dragged our family through several years of a crystal meth induced chaos. All of that every bit of the nightmare you can imagine. It’s a wonder any of us made it through those years alive, with only the bad memories to remind us just how close we’d come to losing everything, and each other. I made so many mistakes. Some days I still feel like I’m seeking redemption for half of them. In hindsight, I still marvel at how easy it is for someone to veer off the right path and then, once you’re astray, how hard it is to find your way back.

By the time I came to my senses I was neck deep in family life and a career that was only supposed to be an interim job. Somewhere along the way in my quest to keep my family happy and help my husband’s business thrive I lost sight of who I was and what I wanted, separate from being a mother, a wife, and the big sister with all the answers…but, oh, how I longed to find myself again.

So, in 2009, at 34 I took a deep breath, a leap of faith, and went back to school to finish what I started four kids ago.

Needless to say, it’s been a rough three years since. I have managed to get pretty close to perfecting the ultimate balancing act, one that required juggling my school assignments with checking my children’s, shuttling my daughters to the mall while they quizzed me on macroeconomic terms, and meeting deadlines for that project at work and the research paper due in class five hours later. Early on I learned to carry my study materials with me at all times because you’d be surprised how much you can read on an elevator or while waiting for your sons to wrap up their lacrosse practice.

To say I’ve spent these last few years in a constant state of tired is an understatement. I’m exhausted, but I’ve also never felt more complete. I’ve been told the key to happiness is someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for. I’ve been fortunate to never be short on the first two, but it’s only recently I’ve been blessed to experience the latter of the three. Changing the trajectory of my life’s initial path hasn’t been easy, but with every hurdle I cross I’m filled with an incredible feeling of achievement. Those moments are priceless and proof the rewards are worth all of my efforts.

Maybe the most valuable lesson I learned while working on my undergraduate degree was that where there’s a will there’s a way. My life story thus far is an example of just that.

Now I know, now I finally believe that my value extends well beyond who I am as a mother, a wife, the big sister, and an Executive Assistant. I’m also talented, charming, intelligent and funny. I am an articulate writer and an extraordinary storyteller. There is power in my words and heart in my stories. I am the perpetual student, an eager learner of life experiences and academics alike.

I’m strategic and resourceful; possess a sharp eye for detail and an impressive knack for problem solving. As a CASA of Travis County and a former foster care parent, I am a passionate advocate for disadvantaged children. I am certain that my skill set, strengths, and talents combined with a law degree will help me reach a greater audience, hence, allowing me to help people that need it most.  Time and again I’ve been tested in this life and on each occasion I have summoned the resilience to push through and forward, leaving no one behind. I am a leader.

And contrary to one of my greatest fears, my life is far from over.

I know the path to becoming a lawyer at my age, while working and going to school with a family in tote, is a daunting feat. I dare not think of the barriers too long lest I’m tempted to throw in the towel when I’m only a quarter of the way through. Often the goal line seems so far and the journey to it a slow crawl. At least once a day I find myself reciting a personal mantra, “I need to want my goals enough to endure the hardest parts of my journey to achieve them all.” And I do. I do, I do, I do.

I’m fully aware of the tremendous effort and sacrifices it will take on my part to ensure my success in law school, but rest assured my resolve is strong and my conviction steadfast. I have an amazing support system made up of encouraging family and friends and I have my faith. I’ve come this far and I have no intention of relenting now.

As a woman minority and a former teen mom, it means the world to me to know that I didn’t hit the glass ceiling, that I was more than a statistic, and that I have the opportunity to fully utilize my talents and share them with people who can benefit and learn from them. I’m only asking for what I’ve worked so hard far, what I deserve – just a shot, a chance to prove to myself and to the world that I do have what it takes, that I’m that girl, the woman who, in my boldest moments, I’ve imagined I could be.

I have invested so much time and efforts helping other people pave their roads to success, for once I’d like to walk that road myself.  I don’t know if a law degree will ensure my job security or promise me riches, but I want the education and credentials so I can explore that for myself.  I want my children to know that even when the odds are stacked against them, perseverance and heart will carry them farther than they ever imagined. I want to know I taught them that.  Most of all I want to feel the pride that comes along with knowing you finished what you started, even if it does take twenty years to do it.

They say it’s never too late to be what you might have been.  In my heart I believe it, and it is that belief that gives me the gumption to try.

**Folks, don’t forget I gain a large portion of my readers by word of mouth. If  you like what you read, if I made you laugh, even cry, please do share my blog post. Forward it via email, Tweet it, Like it, Facebook post it, talk about it.** Oh, and please root for me, ’cause I’ll take all the prayers I can get. Much love, MS

  1. November 1, 2012 at 9:27 PM

    You’re all definitely in my prayers. I seriously doubt I could have achieved what you have, had I been in your situation. Your inner strength is amazing and an inspiration. And on top of all that, you tell a great story!

  2. November 1, 2012 at 9:55 PM

    Thank you, friend. The support means a lot to me. This was my law school ap essay. Studying for LSATs was grueling, the school aps took a lot out of you, and now it’s just a waiting game. If I get in next fall I’ll be overjoyed…but if I don’t I’ll get comfort in knowing I gave it all I had…and then I’ll try this again next year until a school does let me in.

  3. cbigness
    November 2, 2012 at 8:50 AM

    I came across this blog entry via a Facebook friend’s re-post. So happy I did!!! You have a true gift for writing. I loved this story. I can relate on so many levels to many experiences of your “journey.” I am a mother, wife, student, employee, daughter, sister and friend. I have been on a smilar academic journey for many years. I obtained my undergraduate degree at around age 30, with a 2 year old in the audience, after returning to school when he was just 6 mos old. I will obtain my MBA within the next 9 months (fingers crossed!) at around age 40, with a 12 year old and 6 year old in the audience. There are days that I want to “relent” and just sleep and sleep and sleep because it is all just too much. But, like you, I press on. I press on through the exhaustion, the piles of laundry, the dishes, the grocery shopping, the kids dance lessons, soccer, baseball, their class projects, my class projects and my husbands overtime schedule – blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Thankfully, like you, I have a great support network, especially my devoted husband! I have been told how “amazing” I am. I quickly retort that I am NOT “amazing” as anyone CAN do this – I am just focused and extremely insane!
    Best of luck to you on your journey! Know that there is another on a smiilar journey in the Bay Area! Keep up the blog entries! I am now on your distribution list!!!! 🙂

    • November 2, 2012 at 9:44 AM

      I really appreciate your comments and you sharing your own story, most especially the part about the being “amazing” compliment. I feel the same way you do. I’m only doing what EVERYONE is capable of doing. Only some people choose to take a route that doesn’t highlight those capablities..and there’s nothing wrong with that. Truth is, we all have brilliance residing in us, we all have choices, we all have opportunities and struggles. It’s just you and I have chosen the “harder” road because for us, the pay off is well worth the pay out. Thank you for your kind and encouraging words. Please keep in touch. I’ve made a lot of friends through social media, and I have found them just as supportive, if not more, as the in-my-face friends. Always feel free to email me or send me a note, if you just want to chat, or vent, or share. I’m here. I will cross my fingers your timeline for the MBA degree is not delayed. Course, from the sounds of it, you’ve got that all under control. *hugs* Maria

      • cbigness
        November 2, 2012 at 2:17 PM

        Thanks for the reply!!! How do I email you directly without “posting”? I can’t locate a “contact me” area on your blog… I am on your distribution list now, so feel free to reply directly to my personal email adderss.

  4. Lor
    November 2, 2012 at 9:37 AM

    I love reading your chronicles. You are an inspiration…truly every woman!

    • November 2, 2012 at 9:50 AM

      I always miss you and am so glad to have you in my life. The fact that you reply to my random late night texts from 1800 miles away and you laugh at my corny jokes are proof how great a friend you are. The other day Taylor said, “We always need to visit that family, every year when we visit California.” Kids miss Ty-Ty most. So din’t be surprised when I call you next year and tell you we’re spending an entire weekend with you..and can you arrange for your brothers to be there, too. *Hugs*

  5. Kelleen
    November 2, 2012 at 3:25 PM

    I have certainly missed your inspirational writings friend. And of course, you and your family are always in my prayers! Oh, by the way, do you need a publisher? : )

    • November 2, 2012 at 3:45 PM

      Kelleeenn!!! *big hug* Hmm, yes, I think I need a publisher.

  6. Carrie Reynolds
    November 3, 2012 at 11:31 PM

    I’m very impressed with your talent as a writer! But, most of all I admire your being a superwoman. Keep aiming high and soon you will hit the mark! Love and prayers.

    • November 20, 2012 at 2:28 PM

      Thanks Aunty. Wish you, Aimee, and the boys were closer so we could hang out more often.

  7. Brian
    November 15, 2012 at 12:53 AM

    You go Marites!!! A brave and committed inspiration for all of us.

  8. January 6, 2013 at 9:54 AM

    I can’t believe I just read this today! It’s been in my “in-box” for a while – perhaps it was because TODAY I needed to hear your inspiring story. You are an amazing woman!

  9. January 6, 2013 at 8:50 PM

    This was the sweetest, kindest comment to wake up to and read this morning. Thank you. If that saying “things happen for a reason” truly applied here, well then, I hope this read gave you just enough of a pick me up and inspiration to get your mojo going! Hugs!

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