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Not impressed

April 14, 2010

I try not to broadcast to my friends and family about my decision to go to law school. I’m more of a wallflower than a limelight kind of person. I do not come from a highly educated family, and I don’t know any lawyers, doctors, accountants, or anyone really even rich. We hang with the computer-guys/nurses/teachers kind of crowd. (Which is a GREAT crowd.) So the fact that I’m going to law school is big news to everyone in my circles. It’s not expected from me; it’s quite out of the ordinary. And since too much attention, even positive attention, give me the hives, I try to steer away from the topic in social settings.

But word is getting around* and the typical reaction to the news is “Really?!” accompanied by either raised eyebrows or a blank stare. The people who know me best are very supportive and think it’s great news. In fact, with some people, this is all we talk about anymore. There’s a kind of mysterious fascination regarding that ethereal unknown … laaawwww schooooool. It sounds prestigious, but … what is it exactly? No one really knows.

*Imagine my shock upon going to a BBQ for my hubby’s co-workers and being greeted by people I didn’t even know with, “So, you’re going to law school? That’s fabulous!” (I had not gotten in yet. Hadn’t even applied.)

Among my most personal relationships, it’s more complex. My mother is 100% for it. She graduated college at age 39, so we’re in a similar situation in that regard. She went on to become a jet-setting executive. She can only see positive things coming out of my self-improvement endeavor.

With my husband, it’s very complicated. He’s confessed that, while he is immensely proud, he is also scared. Scared that once I become a fancy-pants lawyer, I’ll become too good for him and leave him for greener pastures. I can thank a friend of his for that, as he graciously related his own personal story of his wife becoming a lawyer and leaving him. Her being “too good” for him is likely his own projection of his feelings of inadequacy rather than something she ever said or implied… however, hubby takes it as fact. It’s actually kind of funny, because I’ll have to work as a lawyer for years to make anywhere near what he makes.

But there are three people in my life who, if not dead against my going to school, are at the very least completely unimpressed: my kids.

The question I get from them most is, “Why do you have to go to law school?” Not in the whiny way, but in the “what in the world do you need to go to any kind of school for? You’re a mom.” way. The two younger ones just don’t have any concept of it, I think. In their minds, being their mom is all I am. Which is true in a sense, but I don’t think they’ve given a moment’s thought to how I may be spending my time while they’re in school, or what I’m going to do when they leave home. They are living on the assumption that tomorrow is the same as today. They are living too much in the present to consider the unknowns of the future. (How awesome is that?)

My 11-year-old, though, is anxious about it. She doesn’t want me to go to law school. She’s worried that she’ll never see me anymore; I’ll be at school all day and I’ll study at school all night. And if I’m being honest, my kids are the one thing that make me wonder if I can do this. Can I do school and be there when they need me? It’s my biggest area of self-doubt. My daughter is very resistent to change of any kind, and I’m sure she feels threatened by this change in our lives and routines.

It’s my hope that one day she’ll be proud of my accomplishment and look at me not just as “mom” but as a role model for her future endeavors. I hope that she appreciates the choice I made, why I made it, and how it impacts our future. I hope she appreciates the hard work and dedication, the sacrifices and rewards. As we go through this experience together, I will not be the only one learning. I will be an example for my daughters, and I hope they take the lessons to heart.

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