From Laurie Gray's letter to the editor on whether women can have it all.
I was raised in rural Indiana where good wives submit and obey and good children are seen and not heard. I went to college with the understanding that an educated good woman is a teacher or a nurse. So I became a high school teacher. Then I met and married a talk, dark and handsome Sikh from Malaysia who told me I should go to law school and get paid to argue all day so that I could come home in the evenings and perhaps be a little nicer. It was the best unsolicited advice I ever received, although it didn’t save the marriage. I went to law school and met my current husband, the senior litigator at the second law firm where I worked. He was 22 years older than I with two adult children. Marrying him would mean working hard, playing hard, and never having any children of my own. That’s what I decided to do. I left the private practice of law and became a deputy prosecuting attorney, working at our local child advocacy center, trying mostly rape and child molest cases along with the occasional aggravated assault and murder. And that’s what I was doing when we most unexpectedly found ourselves expecting. Our daughter was born a month before my 38th birthday, and two months after my husband’s 60th.
I worked right up through the day my water broke and scheduled a four-day child molest trial for eight weeks after her birth. I went back and tried that one case, but it was too crazy. I was operating on no sleep and it wasn’t the life my husband and I wanted for ourselves or our child. So I extended my maternity leave and eventually resigned, only to return when a newly elected prosecutor offered me the opportunity to work just a half day each week, any day, either half. My mom had just retired and agreed to watch our daughter, so I gradually went back to work almost full time. Although I worked 40+ hours a week, I maintained a “part-time” status that gave me more flexibility in scheduling. I left the prosecutor’s office two years ago when my first young adult novel was released. Summer Sanctuary (Luminis Books / 2010) has earned a Moonbeam Gold Medal as was named a 2011 Indiana Best Book Finalist. I have two more young adult novels slated for release in 2013 and 2014. I’ve formed my own writing, speaking and consulting company called Socratic Parenting LLC (www.SocraticParenting.com). I also work as a bilingual forensic interviewer at the Bill Lewis Center for Children and an adjunct professor of criminal sciences at Indiana Tech. I’ve served on the faculty at the National Symposium on Child Abuse every spring since 2009 and am building my platform and cultivating recognition on a national level.
In 2020 my daughter will graduate from high school, my husband will be 79 and I will be 57. At that point, I will be free to work as much as I like doing whatever I like. I could go back to private practice, return to prosecuting crimes, become a full-time professor, or devote myself to writing, speaking and consulting full time. It helps that I established myself as a professional prior to becoming a mom. I doubt I would have the passion, vision or balance I’ve created for myself if I’d not had a daughter of my own. I may never achieve the full earning potential displayed back when I was earning a six-figure salary in the private practice of law, but I’ve enjoyed the same financial security through my marriage. I know that my husband often measures his self-worth through dollars earned, but I can’t allow myself to be defined by dollars. I think of Maslow’s hierarchy: all of my basic needs (food, shelter, clothing) are met and I have the luxury of devoting my energies to self-actualization through creativity and service. I do plan to have it all, but even if I died tomorrow or everything I currently have were lost, I would still feel as though I’ve had it all and I could have it all again — just not all at once.