Monday, March 10, 2008

Any Day in My Life

When people find hear I have three children, the next question is inevitable: How do you do it? I have no idea, really. I just Do It. The same way people with three children go to work. No one ever asks them how do they do it!

I think the inquiry is motivated by the perception that law school is as hard as non-lawyers imagine it. My philosophy has always been that law school is as hard as you make it. If you want to be at the top of your class, then that requires a lot of time and effort. I choose not to devote that much time and effort to law school. Consequently, I have mediocre grades and I do not participate in extracurricular activities, but I'm okay with that.

When pressed as to why I don't care so much about grades, class rank, getting a firm job, or making law review, I answer honestly: I just don't have the time. I see the JD as a means to an end. Having the degree will open doors. 90% of people want what is behind Door #1, but I don't. I choose my own path, which also means I do law school my way. Not the way "they" say I ought to.

I take four classes per semester, or about 12-16 credits per semester. I schedule all my classes on the same days to minimize the time I spend at school; this semester I'm only at school on Mondays and Wednesdays. My school does not normally have class on Fridays, so I have three days free per week (in addition to the weekend) to do homework, housework and parent work. I also fit in 15 hours of work during five non-school days. It's tough, but I manage.

For those of you, who really do want to know How I Do It, I give you Any Day in the Life of LSM:

2:30a: Jarred awake by annoying, yowling, hungry cat. Bury my head under the covers to escape the noise. Drift back into blissful sleep.

4:33a: Think about getting up, but decide it's too damn cold and I am much too tired.

5:00a: Hear the furnace kick on. Roll out of bed, get laptop, get back into bed.

5:10a: Check e-mail. Catch up on blog reading. Read the latest news. Check class assignments. Hit the shower.

5:45a: Listen to iPod while making sack lunches and waiting for the teakettle to boil. "Start Me Up," by The Rolling Stones gets my booty shaking.

5:55a: Search frantically for Lizzie's lunch box. Decide she has left it at school, in her locker, again! Pack her lunch in another one of the gazillion lunch boxes we have (What can I say? We love free schwag).

6:00a: Eat oatmeal out of a baby bowl because I didn't run the dishwasher last night. Drink tea while downloading financial transactions in Quicken and scanning class reading. Write holding and black letter law from High Court Case Summaries in casebook.

6:30a: Lizzie emerges from her room and heads straight to the bathroom. Olie awakes five seconds later, goes to the bathroom door, and bangs on the door until I redirect her to my bathroom.

6:59a: Tell Lizzie to dress Bubba.

7:03a: Olie wanders around aimlessly. I tell her to go make her bed. Breakfast is served!

7:30a: Toss a load of laundry in the washer and start the dishwasher on the way out the door to school(s).

8:10 - 8:15a: Drop the kids off at their respective schools and head to class.

9:00a - 12:10p: Sit in class, bored out of my mind. Play around on e-mail, MySpace, and TMZ.

12:15p: Drive home, fantasize about dropping out of law school and getting my MA Lit. Cringe at the thought of taking more student loans. Consider plundering savings to finance new dream. Feel so miserable about law school that I skip my personal motivational song - "Just Fine" by MJB - when it comes up on the iPod.

12:45p: Read for class while eating a Lean Cuisine quesadilla. Check bloglines (updates!) and MySpace (new comments!). E-mail Madhubby with dinner information. Do more laundry.

2:00p: Prep dinner. Think about going to the gym and decide I don't have time. Go for a brisk walk around the block, instead.

3:00p - 3:45p: Pick the kids up from school.

4:00p - 5:00p: Make the kids a quick snack. Make myself a soy chai to go. Pack bag for my evening class. Think about skipping class. Check e-mail to make sure class isn't cancelled (not this time, dammit!), high-five Madhubby on my way out the door. Call Madhubby from the car to talk about his day.

6:00 - 7:15p: Try to stay awake in class. IM Madhubby to talk about my day and how much I hate law school. He LOL.

8:00p: Finally home for good! Help Madhubby with dinner dishes and bedtime routines. Set out kids' clothes for the next day.

8:30p: Pour a glass of wine, mix Madhubby a cocktail and eat dinner, on the couch, in front of whatever interesting show is already-in-progress.

9:00 - 10:30p: Sex, then sleep. Sometimes the order switches depending on how tired we are.

That's my day in a nutshell. It's not perfect, but it works. The frenetic pace contributes to my class tardiness or, in some cases, absences.

So, the next time you meet a law school mom, don't ask her How She Does It. Tell her you noticed she wasn't in class and you would be happy to send her your notes. Tell her she looks great even if she's got greasy hair and bags under her eyes. Offer to buy her a cup of coffee. But please, whatever you do, don't tell her she's stupid for having children before, or during, law school because that will get you bitch-slapped.


sorel top said...

I felt the same way in law school. I had my daughter as a 2L and my son the first year of practice. What most law students don't realize is that they have way more time in law school than they'll have in private practice. Client and court demands aren't nicely scheduled like classes. Also, the discipline you learn now by juggling it all in law school will serve you and your family well after graduation. More power to you!

Hyphen Mama said...

Kudos to you! Just proves that what moms need to get done, they GET DONE, regardless of what others would think are road blocks. You just do what has to be done.

Anonymous said...

My husband was 30 when he went back to law school. I think that 22 year-old and fresh-out-of-undergrad students have different expectations and experiences.

My husband came home every night to eat dinner. We went to bed at normal times. He got up in the morning, watched TV, had coffee, and went to school. He treated law school a lot more like a job than his classmates did.

And god, going to parties made me feel OLD! I teach 5th grade, pay rent, and clip coupons. Holy cow, that's different than what most students at an expensive, elite law school experience.

It sounds to me that you do the same. I don't wonder how you do it -- I admire that you can make those choices and that it works for you and your family. It's non-traditional but you make it work. Good for you!

Kim said...

Hear, hear!

Sarah said...

I'm a new mom and considering law school but the horror stories of having no time whatsoever completely discouraged me. But if a mother of THREE can do it, so can I!