You have six kids and you are going to law school? Are you crazy? Why yes I am, and proud of it. Being a full time law student at the J. Reuben Clark Law School at BYU and trying to still be a full time mommy has been the most difficult thing I have ever done. But, it is a gift and a blessing and I am grateful for the opportunity. My children range in age from 2-13 so I am in the throes of motherhood, yet there is more for me to do.
For the typical law student, law school is the equivalent of a full time job. When I started school I vowed that I would do my best academically, but family would come first. I was not comfortable leaving my home for 40+ hours/week. My children need a mommy, especially since my husband is often busy with work and could not take over my role as well as maintaining his job. I study and research whenever I get a chance while doing my mommy duties. I am used to keeping law books in my car, so as I run children around to and from school and activities, I can read a case or two in the car while sitting in parking lots waiting for kids. I keep shopping and other errands to a minimum. My three oldest children do their own laundry and help with meals. To review what I am learning, I discuss the cases I am studying in class with my husband and older children at dinner, in the car or as we do chores. Also, my youngest two children enjoy hopping on my bed with a stack of picture books to look at while I study.
There are some definite disadvantages. No more bargain or coupon shopping for me; I don’t have time. I am not as connected with friends and neighbors as I was before. The biggest challenge is feeling as if there is not enough of me to go around. I could always devote more to school on one hand, and on the other hand there is always more to do at home.
The benefits are becoming more evident as time goes on. Using my brain has been great. I didn’t realize how dormant it had become after being out of school for almost 15 years. I love that I am learning to think and reason at a new level. Most importantly, my children are learning. Having a dad and a mom with graduate degrees is showing them the value we place on education. When I can, I take my children to the law school for classes or other events so they feel part of my education. It is quite rewarding to overhear my son brag to his friends that his mom is going to be a lawyer. My kids are also becoming more independent. They know that I cannot do as much for them as I used to. They have to be more responsible. No running last minute errands for them or helping them with a school project that they put off a bit too long.
BYU’s law school has done a remarkable job at creating a family friendly environment. They provide family support rooms for moms who occasionally need to bring a child to class or need to nurse a baby. The support rooms allow me to keep a sick child with me yet still get credit for attending class. Also, many professors allow for their lectures to be listened to at home over the internet when getting to school isn’t possible. The library has a special reading room with children’s books and toys. It is a great place to bring my kids when I need to be at the school. The kids, young and old, love going to the law school to “study” with mom. The Dean of Students often goes out of her way to check up on me and my family. I am also frequently asked if there is anything the law school can do to help law school moms survive. The school is doing an excellent job in making higher education a real possibility for women with children.
Anything that helps individuals grow and become strong requires leaving our comfort zones to do hard things. It is too easy to sit back and avoid challenges, but it results in limiting our abilities and potential. I am grateful for the challenge that we have chosen. I don’t know what the future will bring after law school. For now, we hold on and enjoy the wild ride that I have chosen.