Derailed by junk mail

There have been lots of changes happening around here in the past few weeks, some of which I will be writing about in the coming days. The majority of them are good, and some of them are even pretty great. But for some reason I have been finding it hard to sit down and type anything into this posting page, even with all the material I have at my disposal, and today I think I figured out at least some of the reason.

I went out to get the mail today, and buried between my student loan repayment bill and some Target coupons was another letter from some misguided source that thinks I am still a medical student.  I get them all the time, solicitations from the AMA and the like. They’ve followed me through a move, even though I never updated any kind of address with them, and out of laziness I’ve never really taken any real action to stop them from coming to my mailbox.  But today I got a letter congratulating me on my upcoming graduation, with offers for fancy frames for my newly minted M.D. degree. Because if I were still in school, I’d be needing one of those in less than a month.

Here is what I know:

I am grateful to have had time with my kids while they are small.
Rosie would not even exist if I had not left med school.
I would not have started writing had I not left med school.
I have learned an unbelievable number of things about myself and who I am in the last three years.

But I also know:

That letter made me sad.
I still wonder all the time about what could have been.
There are times when I feel an overwhelming sense of regret about my decision.

Because no matter how amazing the alternative turns out to be, it’s just really, really hard to give up a dream.


1 Kate { 04.14.10 at 10:48 pm }

Rachel, thanks so much for your honesty. And courage. And willingness to name the tough (and often silent and crappy) reality that making a choice means letting go of lots of others. Too many people try to sugarcoat the difficulty. Much love, sister friend. The world would be better off with more caps lock realism and vulnerability…

2 Lynn Peek { 04.15.10 at 5:45 am }

Decisions are hard. I don’t know what would have been if I had taken “the road less traveled”. But when I look back now 34 years later, there’s NO WAY I’d give up my time with my girls and deprived the world of the women they’ve become. I choose correctly. I hope that helps a little. I just wish I had realized that at the time and enjoyed it more.

3 Anjie { 04.15.10 at 12:38 pm }

What you’re talking about makes me think of this David Wilcox song (and story) I love. Go here and listen to number 6 and number 7…the story part finishes at the end of the song.

It’s more about when you’re about to make one of those life changing decisions than looking back on it. I have a hard time avoiding the thinking that there is one right choice…or one choice that God wants me to make or has in store. But, I’m not sure that’s actually true. Every choice…especially the big ones…have great things in them…and sacrifices. Like Kate said, every choice means saying no to other things. I, for one, find that unbelievably hard. This song always reminds me, though, that what I know to be true of God is that God will be journeying with me down whatever path I take and that God can help it be an amazing journey. (Can you tell I’m standing in one of these spots myself, right now?)

You’d have made a helluva doctor, Rach. You are an absolutely phenomenal mother…and friend. I’m sorry that fully living into one choice meant giving up the other.

4 Katy German { 04.15.10 at 3:22 pm }

Although I’ve yet to have clear dream for the future, I’ve definitely struggled with my decision to leave the (paying) work force for a while. Here’s my what I tell myself on particularly hard days: You are young and full of potential that’s not going anywhere. There will always be another job (or medical school) out there, but you’re kids are only little like this once. Given the chance, you’d make the same choices again, which means that despite fear and sorrow, you are exactly where you are supposed to be.

That being said, it also seems to be very important to acknowledge the negative feelings and work through them. (Who knew!) So you go right ahead and grieve as much as you need to. It is a-ok. In no time you’ll realize what we all know – that the choices you made are not only a blessing to your children, but also to all of us who find strength and comfort in your words. You are just helping and healing in a different way…for now.

5 Kolbi { 04.15.10 at 3:32 pm }

What a hard decision. Well, I can give you the flip side. I have the J.D. and in less than a year I’ll have the LL.M. But I don’t have kids yet, and there are a million times when I wish I’d carved out the space for them. (And I’m older than you, and look what you have!) So, I guess this is the part of harsh reality when we realize we can’t quite have it all. Not YET. Later, though, totally. :)

6 Rebekah { 04.15.10 at 4:05 pm }

My memory of you in medical school was that you were just not yourself. And I never saw you. And when I did your eyes were darting to the clocks to see how much study time you were missing. All I am (selfishly) saying, is that a lot of us would have missed out if you had stayed in medical school–not just the family that lives in your house.

7 Anjie { 04.15.10 at 7:08 pm }

Also, I second Rebekah!

8 AnnaB { 04.15.10 at 7:57 pm }

Rachel thanks for never being afraid to tell the truth about how scary and upsetting and incredible and joyful life can be. my guess is that no one can understand just how you feel, but what i know for sure is that we are all rooting for you- crying with you, laughing with you, yelling with you, smiling with you- along the way, no matter what. you have an army of folks supporting and loving you every day whether you write a prescription or fix a delicious hotdog lunch (i obviously prefer the hotdogs). Prayers are comin your way, sister!!

9 Leeann { 04.15.10 at 8:43 pm }

There was a woman on NPR today who write her first book at 81. EIGHTY ONE. You can always go back to school to be a doctor later. Really, you can. It will seem insurmountable and ridiculous and crazy, but you can. But you can only be a stay at home mom to your babies NOW. Because in a few years, they won’t be babies. Ask me how I know :)

10 ramblin red { 04.15.10 at 11:53 pm }

While I wasn’t going to be a doctor, I did leave the working world at a time when I was an up and coming “star” in our community’s non-profit sector to be at home with my kids. I get notices from people still trying to engage me in various activities, but I just can’t – not and be the mom I need to be too.


It is indeed hard to let a dream die, and stay dead, even if the new dream is amazing.

11 Leigh Ann { 04.16.10 at 8:28 am }

couple things..

1. nothing wrong with “mourning” what could of been if you had stayed in med school. i quit nursing school almost 10 years ago and i still sometimes wonder “what if”

2. i know that part of becoming a doctor for you was the whole helping people thing. well, i think you are still doing that with this blog. i don’t think you realize the impact you make on other people’s lives by putting yourself out there like you do. your writing touches people’s lives and makes them feel connected. i know for me it’s like having my own jumbled thoughts and emotions as a mother and woman put into beautiful words, stories, pictures, videos, and the occasional haiku. :) those times when i feel alone in the world, like no one understands my struggles all i have to do is come here to this blog and i instantly feel…understood. and that would still be true even if i didn’t know you but just read your blog.

3. you are raising 2 of the coolest kids out there :)

12 Ryann { 04.21.10 at 3:49 pm }

I just read this and want to say I love you. That’s all.

13 Allen { 04.21.10 at 3:50 pm }

I meant suck in a good way 😉

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