Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Rantings of a 39-year-old, 2L, single mother of a teenager.

This weekend I had one of those arguments one has with teenagers. The kind where at the end, you have no idea why you were arguing. The kind that leaves you pondering at what age logical reasoning develops in human beings. These arguments are routine enough that they probably should not warrant a journal entry. However, during this argument, my daughter managed to find the proper button to push to upset me.

She called me “selfish.”

Why? Because, among other things, what I am going to be doing at any particular moment in time depends on the amount of schoolwork I have to do or if it is finals week. Having my daughter call me “selfish” really got me thinking about the amount of things I have given up or sacrificed in order to get my law degree and wondering if it really will be worth it in the end.

Before law school, I knew myself as competent adult. I had a successful career and was at the top of my field. My pay was not enough to be called “good money” as a single income earner, but was at the high end of the pay scale for the work I did. People relied on me. Now, I worry about turning in anything before at least two friends of mine read it, lest I have a typographical error that will reveal the depths of my stupidity.

In addition to my job, before law school, I owned two properties: a condominium in Kirkland and a duplex in Des Moines. Now, I sleep on a hide-a-bed sofa in the “living room” of a one-bedroom mother-in-law apartment that I share with my teenager. Every night, I unfold my bed and every morning, I fold it back up. Sleep is uncomfortable at best. Privacy is non-existent.

On the other hand, lack of a comfortable bed is probably a good thing because it makes it easier to climb out of bed at 6:30 a.m. to drive Marlo to cheer practice on Saturday mornings or at 8:00 a.m. on Sundays to drive her to her job. This, of course, would be the situation with or without law school. However, it does make me wonder how she has the gall to call me “selfish.”

Of course, in Marlo’s view, if I would let her get her drivers’ license, she could drive herself to cheer and work. However, her getting her license is just about the last bargaining tool I have as a parent. You see, Marlo consistently gets A’s and B+’s in all but one class, which she will be failing. This is because she has figured out that it is the one thing simultaneously makes me crazy and will get my attention away from my own studies.

I came to law school, in all honesty, for three reasons: to be able to do human rights work; to be able to live a comfortable life without scraping by; and to be able to pay for Marlo’s college education.

At this point, with Marlo’s grade point average hovering around a 3.0, with my profits from the sale of my properties long spent to subsidize living on a single-student financial aid budget with a teenager, and the possibility of doing human rights work supplanted by $130,000 in debt, I wonder if it will be worth it in the end.

The one thing I thought I’d at least have out of this experience was a daughter who was proud of me. And I do not even have that.

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