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.
If you need me, I’ll be baking strawberry shortcakes (and writing)….