--> divine angst: addendum

Wednesday, August 04, 2004


With all my questions about having kids in law school, it seems I forgot that my own (single) mother not only worked full time while raising my brother and I, but also completed bachelor's and master's degrees. It only took her an extra two or so years than if she'd gone daytime and not worked, which means she never took fewer than 9 hours a semester. And you know what? I never felt neglected. I respect my mother so much for doing what was important and necessary for her happiness, rather than doing what was easy.

So I've been reading lots of discussion boards where non-parents talk about how impossible it must be to have a child while in school, and how anyone who considers it is nuts. There's a sort of blanket denial that having kids while in school is possible, or desireable. When I come across these opinions (and I mean the obstinate, "no way" ones, not the reasonable, "consider the implications" ones) I try to remember my mom and how strong she was. And then I remind myself that there will never be a "right time" to have kids. After all, if we try now, for instance, we'll have a newborn when we start and my 1L year will go down the toilet; if we try while we're in school, well, we'll be in school; if we try after we're both out, we'll have to deal with the implications to my career. None of these options sound great!

I think the reason the middle option seems most desirable is that, at least while we're in school, we'll have more "flexible" time than when we are working. Our scheduled time will be minimal—classtime, essentially. The rest of the day is flexible—we can fit study time into slots between childcare and family time, meals, naps, and errands. We can schedule our classes to be offset, so one of us is always home. Not only will we not have to put our child in daycare as an infant, but also we'll both get to really dive into being new parents. I don't want to be the only parent that experiences all the baby firsts—I want my husband to have that, too.

The woman I had lunch with yesterday had her child right before finals, first semester of 3L. She found out early enough that she took a full course load that summer and only had a few credits to complete in her final semester. She said she felt almost like a stay-at-home mom at times. And then she encouraged me not to close the door on starting a family while in school. It can be done.

I know there are lots of other law students who are or have been in this situation—Harvard even has a student organization for parents and would-be parents. So I want to hear from more people who have done it or know people who have done it, and how it affected their grades and personal life.