I was fortunate to grow up in a home with an amazing mother who also happened to be an amazing teacher. As a child, this meant, generally speaking, when I was home so was my mom. My memories of summer are glorious – trips to the park, museum, zoo, my grandmother’s pool, camps (if and when I wanted to attend). The icing on the proverbial cake was that many of these memories were also made with my best friends. Their parents worked through summer so they spent time with us on our adventures. At the time I never truly processed all of this. I mean, I knew their moms were at work, but never really considered how fortunate I was to spend my entire summer with mine. This was all I ever knew. When I was in elementary school and decided I was going to become a doctor when I grew up, it never occurred to me that someday I would have children of my own who would have summer breaks of their own. In my profession of choice, as with many working moms, I would not have a summer vacation to spend with my future children.
It wasn’t until many years later, when I was well into my medical training that it all clicked. I started to mourn this “lost” time with children that didn’t even exist yet. I temporarily regretted my decision to choose a job that would require me to work year-round. I was convinced my future children would be ruined because their summer experience would be different than mine was as a child.
Then one day I had a child of my own. We made the decision for her to go to daycare (another experience different than my own). I was terrified, but we adjusted. Turns out, she has thrived. This month, she will age out of her daycare and start pre-k at a new school in the Fall. And so, I’m met with my first taste of the thing I have feared. I’m joining the ranks of the summer working moms.
I’ve always worked summers, so what’s the big deal? I suspect any year-round working mom understands the stress that the school calendar can bring. My daughter is still young enough to not realize her situation is different from that of anyone else, but my mommy guilt and the stress of figuring it all out is rising.
But here’s to you, my fellow summer working moms.
I see you’ve been planning months in advance to get the schedule just right. Figuring out a safe and fulfilling environment for their care. Planned, but maybe not too regimented. We want them to be free to be kids after all.
I see you stressing over keeping up with the day-to-day and week-to-week inconsistencies – Where do we need to be today? And at what time? When is the nanny going on vacation? And what if someone is sick?
I see you avoiding social media – trying to steer clear of the comparison trap as your feed fills with the daytime summer adventures of others.
But I know there are things you love about summer too.
I’m sure you appreciate the longer days – still plenty of sunshine to play outdoors once you return home.
I know how hard you’re working to get home quickly so you too can share in the summer fun. Staying up later than usual for bike rides, ice cream, quick park trips, splash pads, and movies in the backyard.
I sense the ease it can bring to your family evenings. Coming back together after they’ve had a day full of fun and imagination – in contrast to a long-scheduled day of trying to follow rules at school and homework still left to complete at night.
I see the joy and relief it brings when you hear about what a great time they are having, knowing all your hard work and planning has paid off.
I see you, mama. And you’re doing great! Your kid is lucky to have a mom who cares as much as you do. Mine will be too.
As a summer working mom, I may not be there for all the moments, but I’ll do everything I can to make our moments count.