I don’t think this is going to turn into a law school blog, but the truth is my writing has always been personally experiential. Narrative is what I do, and when the story of my life shifts, writing is how I process it. Everyone’s story is always shifting—that is literally life. Stasis is illusory. Change is constant.
I’m starting to gather the things I’m going to need this fall. Like any new endeavor, there’s a lot of contradictory advice for people starting law school. Understandably, most of it’s geared towards twenty-three year olds. I’m literally going to be double the age of the majority of my classmates. I’ve chosen a boutique law school with a reputation for non-traditional representation, so I’m not the oldest student ever… but I’m definitely an outlier on the curve. Jon thinks a concerning possibility is my classmates potentially turning to me as a supportive mother-figure, and that I need to watch for that sapping my time/energy, since it’s a role I am know well. It’s highly likely I’ll be the only one currently raising four teenagers while attending law school. Am I crazy? Hang out with me and see!
I’m reading a book on understanding legal terms and vocabulary, and I’m listening to Serial Season 3, about the day-to-day goings-on in one American justice department (highly recommended, even if you’re not interested in lawyer-ing). I’ve got myself a heavy-duty, not-pretty but highly-functional backpack. I’ve got a planner. I’ve got a schedule tentatively worked out with full knowledge it will likely require immediate, on-going revisions to accommodate my family’s needs and the demands school places on my time.
I have a mentor. I have several, as a matter of fact—I’m super lucky to have friends who are lawyers, who are not only cheering me on, but offering support and advice about structure, time management, and stress.
It’s possible my kids are more excited about this than I am. They have spent their lives watching me jump into situations where advocacy and knowledge was a necessary tool. They each seem to have an impression of me that is certainly more fierce than I feel. Maybe all kids think their mom is a hero? They’re prepared, they say, to have me be less accessible than I have been for years. There are two things I believe about going back to school: It will be both harder, and very different than last time.
It’s going to be harder because it’s law school, not my undergrad. Of course it’s going to be harder—the subject matter dictates that it’s necessarily harder. For some reason I cannot quite understand, I feel compelled to do something really hard, at a time in my life when I could just relax and do not much. As my kids grow up and head off to college, I cannot fathom wandering around the slowly emptying house, content with lunches and shopping. I have spent the majority of my life doing what is required under pressure and in crisis; reacting rather than being proactive. Yes, I have done good and accomplished things, but often I have done so out of necessity, rather than exerting influence in a chosen direction. This is different.
It’s also going to be different because I have a present, engaged and highly functional co-parent and partner. Last time, it was all me, all the time. My kids witnessed first-hand what it took for me to graduate cum laude in 3 years. We were also concurrently experiencing ongoing trauma and loss coupled with the pressing drive for me to solely support us. This time, they have a stable home, they are older and moving towards their own lives, they are somewhat independent in some areas, and—God wiling and the creek don’t rise—we most likely won’t have to choose between keeping the heat on and buying food. We’re incredibly fortunate.
In a nutshell, I think this is maybe why I am so compelled to reach forward, to do something difficult but potentially valuable, to contribute to more than just my tiny sphere.
Todays legal word:
Appellate: /əˈpelət/ adjective
1. (especially of a court) concerned with or dealing with applications for decisions to be reversed. Specifically : having the power to review the judgment of another tribunal.