For Working Parents, Summer is Anything But “Carefree”
The countdown to summer has begun. My children are giddy. Ten weeks glimmer ahead of them, weeks that will entail generous doses of sand and chlorine and popsicles. Evenings that linger. Bare feet and the crackle of campfires.
When I was a child, my parents shared in the giddiness, too. They were both teachers. For them, summer also meant a well-deserved break, a change in rhythm, a chance to recuperate from nine intensive months of corralling, comforting, confronting, and coaching dozens upon dozens of children while also attending to their snot, blood, and tears.
It never occurred to me that when I grew up, I might lose summer. Not that summer would disappear altogether, but that it would merely present itself with the same lack of fanfare as any other season. Maybe I could coax out a weeklong vacation or a weekend trip, but my daily routine would remain more or less the same. So would my weekday wardrobe, as office buildings, I would soon learn, are typically chilled to temperatures that require winter sweaters.
Fresh out of college, as the realities of the working world were dawning on me, I was determined to claim my last summer. My sister and I embarked on a five-week journey to South America, and as we jostled in the backs of buses over dirt roads, I vaguely wondered if these were the last five consecutive weeks of freedom I’d enjoy for the foreseeable future.
They were. A year later, I experienced my first summer-not-summer. Work and more work. In between bartending shifts, I spent most of my weekend hours on roads choked with traffic, trying to get to the beach so I could feel the sand between my toes. Come Monday morning, it was back to work.
Still though, summer came with small freedoms. On weekends, I could let my breasts jiggle braless in tank tops and sundresses. I could let my toes wiggle outside the confines of socks and winter boots. I could let my limbs, so used to tensing against the cold, settle and stretch during morning jogs and afternoon walks and evening drinks on stoops and porches.
In my young adult years, summer still had a carefree way about it, even if my day-to-day…