I’m sort of obsessed with “How to Get Away With Murder” right now (isn’t everyone?). First of all, it’s a Shonda Rhimes show, so that means I’m automatically going to love it. But there’s something else that keeps me watching week after week—and it’s not the flashbacks to my own law school experience. It’s dawned on me that the first-year law student experience is exactly like the first-year parent experience.
Let me explain:
1. Sleep? What sleep?
As a first year law student, there’s constant studying, constant reading and little to no sleep. In the first year of parenting, there’s constant feeding, constant diaper changes and little to no sleep. As a college student/kid-free single person, you might have enjoyed sleeping in on Sunday mornings. But once you enter law school or become a mom, those lazy Sundays are a thing of the past. There’s work to do and diapers to be changed.
2. Kiss that social life goodbye!
My best friend Shawn refers to my first year of law school as “the year I dropped off the map.” And she’s not completely wrong. My first year was dedicated to the sole act of doing well in law school. And my first year of parenting wasn’t all that different. After all, in law school you’re only responsible for getting good grades. As a mommy, you’re responsible for a tiny human being.
In the first year of law school, students are introduced to the Socratic method, in which law professors grill you for an hour in class until you cry (or was that just me?). As a first-time mommy, you will be subjected to an adorable baby, who will scream and poop and cry until you … well … cry (or was that just me?). [Ed. note: Not just you.]
After your first year of law school is up, you start to figure things out. You study smarter, not longer, and the sleep comes.
4. So! Much! Reading!
I thought I read a lot, until I became a first-year law student. Hundreds of pages each week, and you’re responsible for retaining the information on each and every one. When I became a mom, suddenly a million different books were thrust upon me: "What to Expect When You're Expecting," "The Blessing of a Skinned Knee," "The Kidfixer Baby Book." And I felt responsible for mastering each and every one. If I didn’t read every mommy book, would that make me a bad mommy? (Answer: No, but these books have all been invaluable resources.)
5. Eventually, though, you figure it all out (sort of)
After your first year of law school is up, you start to figure things out. You study smarter, not longer, and the sleep comes. You may even have time to see a friend or two. You realize that the professors are there to push you to do better, not just to terrorize you. And you might even start to enjoy yourself.
Same goes with parenting. That first year is brutal. You’re exhausted, you’re scared, you really don’t have a clue. But after a while, you start to get the hang of things. You get your baby onto a schedule, you meet other mommies to help you navigate the day-to-day questions, and you start to see that you might actually get to have a life again.