Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Winter Break—Getting Over “Mom Guilt” and Catching Up with Life Outside Law School

As a working mother in law school, I’m often asked, “How do you do it all?” The truth is, sometimes I think I suck at it.  I’m not going to lie—I experience “mom guilt” and wish I could spend more time with my 5-year-old son.  There is a silver lining, though.

Law school drives home the reality that my son’s childhood years are fleeting, and that his time as my baby is limited and constricted.  If I don’t take advantage of my time with him now, he’ll be off to college before I know it and wincing at the thought of his ole’ mama planting a wet one on his cheek.
Prior to law school, though, this reality seemed so distant.  I would always have tomorrow to do that fun activity with him; there would always be next month to visit Disneyland together.  Law school changed that.  It created a sense of urgency—one that I had not previously felt—and I’m grateful for it.

So, when my winter break rolled around, I meticulously planned each week to accommodate family activities.  Not a day was wasted (although I did fantasize about a day of doing absolutely nothing but watching Netflix in pajamas).  Family activities weren’t the only ones on the agenda, as I was able to catch up with my life outside of law school in general.

Here’s a brief recap of my winter break:

Trimmed the Christmas tree.
Attended work-related holiday parties.
Took my son to Disneyland.

Fostered a former street dog from Romania until she got adopted.

Took my son to Legoland (our first time there).
Caught up with non-law school friends whom I hadn’t seen in quite some time.
My cousin and her kids came to visit me for a week.
Took my family to Costa Rica and we snorkeled, swam, relaxed, zip-lined, and trekked through the rainforest.

Celebrated my 31st birthday with a limo, champagne, and 7 fabulously fun friends in West Hollywood.

It doesn’t look that intimidating in list form, but there is no way I would have been ambitious enough to fit all of those activities within the span of a few weeks had I not felt a distinct sense of urgency to utilize every moment of my break from law school to pop back into the lives of those I care about.  And, boy, were epic memories made!  My son thought I was fun and cool again.  My friends remembered why they were friends with me.  My dogs wondered why I was crazy enough to let a peculiar 3rd dog sleep in my bed (just kidding—they all got along swimmingly).

So, while law school does cause me to take a break from the things I love to do and, at times, to retreat from the people I love to be around, it also teaches me how to do what a fictional English teacher, John Keating, once said:  “Carpe diem, seize the day...make your lives extraordinary.”

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