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Juggling Law School With a Young Family

Juggling Law School With a Young Family

Law school for anyone is undoubtedly overwhelming and life-consuming, but raising a family on top of all of the reading and studying is not for the faint-of-heart. For one brief semester my 1L year, I was a normal law student. I spent a fair amount of time at the law school, worked an easy part-time job, and was able to have down time with my wife in the evenings and on weekends.

Fast forward to January 5, 2013—birth day. We were so excited to welcome the birth of our son, but looking back, I have to wonder if I had any idea what was to come. For the first week to ten days, I spent time with family, stayed up during the night with the baby, and took a million pictures that were obnoxiously posted on social media in a constant stream. That all came to a screeching halt the day class started for the spring semester.

I bought myself a planner and decided I was going to be very organized so that I could maximize my time at home with my wife and son, but still be sure not to put law school on the back burner. Right away, LRRW assignments started popping up and Criminal Law boggled my mind with the dozens of possible murder charges. This in no way stopped Professor DiSalvo from calling my name, what seemed to be every morning right at 8:30. “Good morning class. How was everyone’s weekend? How about those Cubs? Mr. Lyda, please give me a full recap, with procedural history, factual history, and analysis of International Shoe. Ready? Go!”

By the end of the semester, I was a professional. I was able to keep up with school at a rate that was satisfactory for me. I was able to spend a good amount of time with my son who was rapidly changing by the day. I was able to support my family with my part-time job. Things were looking up, and summer was just around the corner.

The summer went by fairly easily since I did not have to focus so much time on school, but as Fall Semester was approaching, my job offered me more hours and responsibility, and with my wife staying at home with our son, a little more of a financial cushion seemed like the right way to go. It turned out that my intuition was correct.

By October, we found out that we were expecting a second baby. Yes, that is right, we were going to have twice the children, twice the diapers, twice the crying and staying up all night—and only half the time. My daughter was born in July between 2L and 3L years. Of course we were excited, but I’m not so sure about “ready.”

This crazy experience known as law school now looks something like this: Class or work every day from 8am-8pm, except Saturdays when I only work until 4pm, and Sundays when we drive two hours back home to go to church every week. But that’s alright, we have a schedule. At 8pm when I get home from work, we quickly eat dinner, then start bath time, followed by bottles and bedtime. Except for one small problem—bed time doesn’t always come so quickly. Instead, it’s usually dinner, bath, putting babies in their cribs, then taking them back out because they’re screaming, then standing and rocking them for about an hour, then laying them back down only for them to wake back up a half hour later, then climbing in the crib with them until they fall asleep, then waking up in the crib at 2am with a stiff neck and sore back, climbing out of the crib, stumbling back downstairs, and THEN starting homework.

It all sounds fun, right? Well, “fun” I’m not sure about, but for me, in some peculiar way, it works. It’s all about prioritizing and adapting. I have come to the realization that I’m not going to CALI my classes, or be in the top ten. I know I’ll never be a multimillionaire doing corporate law in New York City. I’m not going to have a ton of friends and be able to participate in a lot of student organizations. But at the end of the day—my chaotic, stressful, busy day—I’m so thankful for my family, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

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