A year ago Kim was the full-time student and I was the working girl. It has been that way for the past 6 years. There was a bit of normalcy a routine we were comfortable with.
I’m not complaining. I love ABSOLUTELY LOVE law school. I really do. (more on that in just a minute.) I’m just completely taken aback at how different our roles are of late.
Kim is currently working 6 part-time jobs. She’s got the part-time post-doc in gender studies. She’s an adjunct for an Ethnic studies class. She’s teaching a learning theory class at a local college. She’s doing a documentation project for an afterschool network program. She’s covering a desk for a woman who is out on maternity leave. And she doing the Safe at Schools curriculum for a local non profit. Between all the teaching and grading, I don’t even want to speculate on how many hours a week she is putting in. She’s getting tired already and its only week 3. All that work and we still aren’t covered on health insurance. (oh, and Riley still qualifies for free lunch!)
Today at Riley’s school a community group came and talked about the importance of literacy and how children have to learn to read really well so that career opportunities open up to them. At dinner tonight Riley told us that story and how he “just had to laugh” because both his moms read really well “and we still don’t have any money.”
Anyway, Kim is swamped yet she is still managing to take good care of the house and the kiddos. I’m trying to do what I can but I’m so engrossed in school and I’m learning that there is just no law school short cut. Its just a whole lotta hard work. Last weekend I took them to Roosevelt for the first half of the weekend so Kimmie could finish a chapter she is submitting for publication. Then she set up fun projects for her and the boys to do the last half of the weekend so I could get caught up on reading. What can I say but we’re a great team.
I worry about the long days for all of us. Kim and I get up about 6 and we eat, get ready, and pack lunches. Oh, and I curl up in a ball and rapidly consume as much caffeine as I possibly can in the 10 minutes I’m allowed to do nothing. Those ten minutes are the fastest of my day. In a blink ten minutes… gone. We get the boys up and the rat race begins. Depending on the day one or both of us drop Casey off at his school (7:15), Riley off at his (7:30) and then we have me at the law school by 8. Then, while Kim is running around grading, teaching and reading I do the following. Class. Read. Class. Read. Eat. Class. read. Read. We pick up Riley from after school program about 5:30 and Casey by 5:45. (That’s just too damn long for them…) Then its the routine we know so well of dinner, homework, games, bath, bedtime. Then Kim and I put in another hour before we head to bed ourselves. Some day, I keep thinking I’ll make it to the gym.
For the last 10 years I have read for a few minutes at night to shut my brain off and fall asleep. For the first week of class, every time I picked up a book, my brain thought it could shut itself off and fall asleep. I’m in the brain re-training process. The reading is brutal. The sitting is brutal. The ensuing backaches from lugging my bag everywhere is (you guessed it) brutal. I bought a great rolly bag, but my locker is in the basement so I have to pick it up on the stairs anyway. Yep. I said locker. Law school is a lot like high school. I even got my schedule handed to me on the first day. I like my classmates and my classes. I love the faculty. It doesn’t come particularly easy to me which is somewhat troubling. I’m used to being among the smartest people in a room. But that is not at all the case any more. I know that in order to accomplish the goals I have set for myself, I don’t need to rise to the top of the class. (I don’t want no firm job!) But the truth is that I don’t think I could rise to the top of the class if I wanted to. There doesn’t seem to be a short cut to making it in law school. The key is time. And with our lives as they are, I just don’t have all the time in the world to put into it. I don’t want to turn around in 3 years and realize that I just missed out on the last 3 years of these precious boys’ lives.
But I also don’t want to miss out on the experience of law school either.
We’re getting into a routine. I’m learning to read faster. Brief faster. And retain more information. And yesterday my professor told a cautionary tale just for me. He didn’t even know he was doing it. We read a case about two people who made a contract. Person A told Person B that he’d give her $25 if she would pay him back $2000. Its a little more complicated than that. Add in post WWII Nazi-torn Greece, starvation, inflation, and a little bit of fraud (“in the note where we agree to this, we’re going to put that I gave you $2000 okay.”) and you essentially have the case we were discussing.
The court upheld the agreement and made the woman pay back the loan shark 2K plus interest. AND I TOTALLY UNDERSTAND WHY IT DID SO! And I can even defend it. It may not seem like a huge epiphany, but for me it was. See, I understood and liked the way I thought (the way my brain worked) prior to law school. But I already feel myself changing. And thinking differently. And I think that’s good. Really, I think its necessary. But the cautionary tale to me is that I can’t let these changes impact me, my essence, my moral compass. I want to think differently but feel the same. Does that make sense? I want to feel similarly about self, life, justice but be equipped with the thinking I learned in law school. I don’t even know if its possible but I have to keep myself found in this process. Kim’s advisor told me the other day that I had to learn to be bilingual. I think that sums it up well. And if I ever forget I’ll just have to go read Batsakis v. Demotsis and remind myself all over again why it is I’m in law school. Because even if some guy can loan a woman $25 and get $2000 in return, I can’t let it be on my watch.