Today Sister C sits for the first day of the New York Bar Exam. And I am nauseous. Not nauseous because I am worried she won't pass. I think she will. Nauseous because I remember that exam all too well. Nauseous because those were two of the most torturous days of my youngish life.
And she hasn't passed yet, but I am already so proud. I am proud because C has been studying hard, pulling late nights, and she has a young baby. Baby Bulldog is just six months old and C has been logging endless hours learning the bland intricacies of New York law (blech) when she could have been tickling tiny toes. I am proud because I know this hasn't been easy.
So, yes. She got pregnant in law school. And gave birth a few months after graduation. Many would say that she should have graduated and taken the bar exam with her peers this past July. Many would say that she should have gotten the career rolling before popping out a delectably cute son. Many would say she did things out of order. That it should have been Bar before Baby and not the reverse.
But I disagree.
And not just because she is my sister and I love her to tiny pieces. I disagree on more objective, principled grounds. I think this society of ours is far too obsessed with its schedule of shoulds. Who says it is always better to firm up a career before starting a family? Who says we shouldn't sometimes do things at the same time? Who says it is always better to wait?
Many people would say that Sister C should have waited. But you know what? She had the courage not to. When Dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer two weeks before Sister C's wedding, things changed. Our Donnelley world shifted. I think, I know, Sister C realized like I did that life has cruel limits, that days are unpredictably numbered. I think, I know, she realized that family is it. And so, she went for it. She battled morning sickness while studying at school. She donned a polyester cap and gown in her final trimester. She spent several weeks at a law firm before welcoming her little guy.
And today. Today, she will kiss her little boy goodbye and go sit at a desk somewhere in this fine city and fill in tiny bubbles and take a big step toward a big future that is blindingly bright, but unknown. And when the long day is over, she will go home. To her man. To her baby. To her family.
And then tomorrow, she will do it again. And then it will be over, mercifully over, and I will take her out. And we will celebrate. We will go to the right kind of bar and sip a tall glass of wine. We will talk about babies. About family. About futures. We will talk about life. How, like the bar exam, it is multiple choice. But how in life, there is more than one right answer.
We will clink glasses and smile.
Two lawyers. One past. One future.
Two sisters. Always.
Two moms. Forever.
And I will say then what I write now. That I am deeply proud of her. For being exquisitely brave. For doing things in her own way. In her own order. For blazing her own trail. For having a baby, an impossibly sweet baby, before taking that exam.
For not waiting.
Leave a comment and wish Sister C good luck! Do you agree that there is no such thing as out of order when it comes to life? That there is no objective schedule of achievement we should heed? Do you think that having a child before cultivating a career is brave or foolish? What are you waiting for?
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* Are pictures enough? Becca from Drama for Mama serves up a timely reminder that blogging isn't such an empty endeavor and easy catharsis after all. Maybe there is a profound purpose in memorializing moments that might otherwise fade.