Contributed by: Natalie Lynn Fears
What exactly does it mean to be a wife, and eventually a mother, while also trying to finish first in the game of law school? At first, for me, it meant takeout, piles of dirty laundry, and an unmade bed five days a week. As a newlywed, and a second year law student, it is no doubt that balancing the role of a loving wife with being a diligent student is exhausting. Many sleep deprived nights, and five extra pounds later, I began to find a balance.
The thing about being a law student that is so gripping is the sense of purpose received after pushing through intellectual challenges. The only problem with having my head in a book hours on end daily is the nudging feeling that there may be something outside the text books that's missing. One Friday afternoon, and three baby shower invitations later, I found myself wondering if my husband and I would ever have time for children of our own. While the newly married couples around us were settling into new homes and expanding their families, my husband and I found ourselves climbing the professional ladder.
As a recent business graduate from Georgia Southern University, my husband was working two jobs and desperately trying to find a break in this unforgiving economy. Finding a minute to ourselves, without one of us falling asleep before 9 p.m., had become more challenging than the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. When finals and my second appellate brief were completed, I embarked on the coveted Christmas break. This meant four weeks of rest and relaxation. My biggest worry was finding a Christmas gift for my new in-laws. This hiatus gave me time to reflect on things in life outside law school. After being trained for almost two years to think and write in I.R.A.C. formation, this hypothetical consumed my brain: How could an over achieving law student, married to a double major business whiz, find time to start and raise a family. And then, I had the greatest epiphany of all: I. Issue: What if my husband could be a stay at home dad? And for that matter, how many female attorneys had husbands playing the role of Mr. Mom? R. Rule:
a. Traditional, Common Law Rule: Women should be confined to the home.
b. Proposed Rule for Adoption: Men can elect to stay at home with the children while women fulfill themselves professionally.
A. Analysis: I wondered how many career driven females, especially in the legal field, existed. Were there others like me who had a strong desire to fulfill themselves professionally, but still longed for a family of their own? And then it happened. A fellow peer of mine had a cesarean section the day after our fall semester finals were complete. She shared with me that when she returned to school, her husband would take care of the baby, all day, by himself. She expressed her concern over someone other than a biological parent being her baby's caretaker during those crucial first months. That day I realized that I had a committed partner, whom I considered my equal too. And, if after 3 years of intense legal training, I wanted to climb my way to partner of a private firm, there could still be a parent at home to raise our children. I wondered if I would feel selfish for sacrificing that precious time that so many stay at home moms covet. And then I realized this: Being a working mom gives you the ability to provide for your family in invaluable ways. And the best part is, when you tell your child, especially your little girl that she can be whatever she wants to be, you can say it with a vindication. C. Conclusion: The truth is some men are secure in their role as stay at home dads, and some never will be. My fellow law student was fortunate enough to marry a man that would put his career on the back-burner while she pursued hers. Many men still prefer to be the bread winner of the family, but fortunately there is a growing trend of men who will stay home with the kids for us women who want to pursue a fulfilling legal career.