I was getting really tired of people asking me if I had the “summer off.” Over a year ago, I ranted about academia and vacation time. Spoiler alert: there is none.
It’s not that there is no vacation time. During the school year, I feel pulled in many different directions. And considering I have prepped something new every semester for the last four years, I have not had the headspace to establish a good balancing act.
And in the last four years, I’ve also had two little girls under the age of four. The fact that I made it to class with anything intelligible to say while clothed (and caffeinated) with any more than four hours of sleep is a small miracle.
So when summer approaches and my grades are posted and suddenly the dust clears, I am slightly in heaven. I might actually be able to tie up loose ends, to get started on new projects and to think with my head screwed on correctly over coffee at Hartford Baking Company.
I have always been touchy about summer. Beginning two summers ago, we juggled childcare for the girls when I was not being paid so that I could complete my dissertation analysis, write up my project, and prep for my second year teaching. As a family we decided to continue the part-time parenting schedule after I finished grad school. In those first days of the summer schedule, I was jittery and nervous–was I missing something not sitting in my “office” all day? I learned, slowly but surely, that I was missing nothing.
This is the first year that I am employed continuously over the calendar year, where I am fully paid all summer, and when I technically have plenty of work to do. Except, I am staring down my third and final year at my current institution. And though I have research in progress, two papers to send out, and some syllabi to tweak, when anyone asks me if I have the “summer off,” instead of groaning in frustration and lecturing about how I never have “time off,” I will simply reply, “yes, I do” because this summer, it’s true.
Am I working? Yes. Am I parenting? Also, yes. I am toggling between full-time parent, full-time work and it will simply have to do.
So, I have trashed the self-righteous posts about the importance of summer work, and I am easing into this amazing vista over the shoulder of our girls. Because it’s time to pick berries and stop feeling guilty.