By Jennis Hemingway • September 01, 2010•Writers in Residence
Balance - really? To attend law school (or have a career), while you are a mom, wife, homeowner, etc., you need a lot of support – hired or donated – to really have “balance.” You need someone to clean, cook, wash clothes, grocery shop, drive children, pay bills, and be home to oversee repair or service callers. Without that help, you have to cut corners, make sacrifices, and accept less. A nanny, stay at home spouse, parent, or other person could and often does provide this support, although that typically requires financial means – often not available to law students. Thus, it is likely many older law students with children like me lack balance in their lives. My husband is (now) supportive, but he has a career and we don’t have a nanny or parents to pick up the slack. I imagine my typical day as an older law student likely differs from the younger student. Here is this OWLS typical day:
My husband’s alarm beeps at 5 a.m. I roll over and try not to hear him shower, shave, and pack his lunch. About an hour later, he brings me coffee and kisses me good-bye. My teenager returns the straightening iron to my bathroom without speaking and later leaves for the bus stop with a short “bye”. I get myself, my books, and my lunch ready, then wake my ten-year old daughter for school. It takes about an hour to make her lunch, do her hair, sign her school papers, and remind her to brush her teeth. Then I drive her and 3 other kids to school. Finally, I set out for law school. During the 40 minute drive, I eat my breakfast and either call my Mom or listen to the news.
About 9 a.m. I arrive at the $720 a year parking garage and squeeze into the only open parking space on the ground level. I wheel my computer and books to the law library. After I set up and deal with email and scheduling, I pull out my 7 lb Criminal Procedure book. Later I attend classes and meetings, exchange books in my locker, and walk in and out of the library. My phone vibrates with a repair person trying to schedule an appointment, my tenant sends an email about a leak in his roof, and my teenager texts a request to have her boyfriend over for dinner. I decide to apply for a job announcement instead of finish my reading for the next class, hoping the professor doesn’t call on me. I eat lunch in the library and get some caffeine for my afternoon class.
Sometime between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m., I pack up and start for home. When I arrive, my teenager’s friend needs a ride home, my younger daughter requires help with her homework, and I see dirty dishes covering the kitchen counters. My husband is exhausted after working all day and making dinner, but he agrees to drive the friend. I cringe at the trail of papers, books, dirty socks, shoes, and crumbs strewn from the computer room, through the living room and into the kitchen. The kids remind me about their school events, doctors’ appointments, practices and invitations. I complain about the disorder and deal with their requests. I tidy up -or demand the kids do it- and grab something to eat. I program the coffee maker for the morning, set out breakfast bowls and vitamins, organize my books, and wash my face.
Now it’s 10 p.m., and I haven’t finished reading for class tomorrow, returned phone messages, or replied to email requests. My husband is trying to sleep, so I move to another room and study until I can’t stay awake. I plan to catch up on the weekend.