On setting and keeping (and letting go of) priorities

The last few days have gotten away from me.

Actually, if I’m being honest with myself, the last month has been a whirlwind of battling commitments. Even writing this post (one day late and hurried as Remy is sleeping) is evidence of my continuing battle to keep things in line.

During 1L year, I heard over and over “first year they’ll scare you to death, second year they’ll work you to death, third year they’ll bore you to death.” I would just like to say that I would welcome boredom. I would throw boredom a party and make ice cream and caramels from scratch if only it would drop in for a day or two.

I gather from my parent friends that balance is a constant struggle but these past weeks have been especially trying.  If you are reading this and you have figured it out, please contact me. I will make you ice cream and caramels from scratch in exchange for your secrets.

baby explores classroom

I even brought Remy to school one day this week – he made fast friends with the heating register

This month I have taken on: a project in our school’s tech policy clinic, three other classes, a new experiment in community-building, new duties in a law journal, and working part time. I have maintained my “normal” duties of, you know, providing sustenance for another human being and sometimes making dinner for my fabulous and over-worked partner.

This month I have let go of: several young clients that I worked with last year, my student membership in the IP Inn of Court, a second job working with amazing people in Technology Transfer, and (supposedly) any new projects, period. Writing them down, these things seem small. But the letting go was tremendously difficult. And there is nothing else that I can let go of. There is so little give.

I remember feeling overwhelmed before becoming a parent, and the stakes seemed just as high then. Somehow, things worked out then, and things will work out again. There is a moment every day when I have to pause to remember to give myself a little extra grace. I have to remember that it is okay to ask for help.

Hardest of all, I have to give myself permission to back out of projects that were important to me. Tom is always telling me that people will understand that I have a baby and a tendency to overcommit. I am always not really believing him. But truly, one of the nicest things that happened to me this month was the response I got after resigning from the IP Inn: so gracious, so understanding, and recognizing the terribly difficult choice that I had to make in letting go of one thing to maintain balance in others.

I suppose what I really want to say in this post is that I realize I am not the only person who is faced with a difficult balancing act complicated by children or parents or partners or friends. I suppose what I want to do is encourage you to make the hard choices and to trust that the difficulty of your situation will be recognized and that you will be admired for giving yourself more fully to the priorities that you are able to keep.

mom and baby sitting on grass

Remy and I celebrated keeping it together this week by sitting on the grass for twenty minutes and eating leaves

I suppose what I mean is that we are all doing the best we can, and we should each throw ourselves a little party with ice cream and caramels, or a good book, or a moment to watch the sunset and just appreciate what a marvel it is that we’ve kept it together this far.

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