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    Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.

Back From Vacation
July 18, 2011 - 8:19pm

My family is just back from a two-week vacation — the first we can remember taking. My husband and I will have been married 24 years this fall, and our previous longest vacation was our ten-day honeymoon. So I think we were due.

It was, by all accounts, a terrific vacation. My daughter, who is pursuing independent research this summer, was able to join us (bringing her computer and her books). My son didn’t have too many camps or other things scheduled this summer so he was happy to come along — and happier, once we decided it would not be a road trip vacation. (We figured that would actually take three weeks, so flew out to California instead.)

Although I did bring my iPad on vacation, I didn’t bring my computer, figuring (rightly) that if I had it along I’d be tempted to use it. With the iPad I could check email and keep on top of things that needed my immediate attention, but I couldn’t really do much sustained work. (I couldn’t play word games, either, a minor vice that I could probably stand to break.)

Instead, we visited friends and family, ate well, saw the glorious coast of California (getting in and out before Carmageddon, which appears not to have been a big issue), and spent time together. We went to the beach in both southern California — where it was bathing suit weather — and San Francisco, where we shivered under long sleeves and long pants. Both were refreshing, and reminded us of how much we love the ocean — even when we can’t get in it.

We actually got back several days ago, but it always takes a little time to readjust. Over the weekend my husband went kayaking, my son and I took in the last Harry Potter movie, and my daughter got back to work in Boston, where she’s spending the summer. This week I’m back in the office, rested and ready to get back to work. I’ve already crossed a couple of things off my to-do list that had been hanging on there for more than a week before we left — somehow whatever had kept me from doing them in June has magically vanished, lost perhaps somewhere along the California coast.

I’m reminded as I type this of all the other “what do I do with my time” posts that several of us Mama, PhDs have written of late. I’m aware that many working folks don’t have two weeks to take off from work, and many others aren’t working and are finding their enforced “vacations” neither relaxing nor rejuvenating. I’ve been there. But I’ve also, too often, taken brief “working” vacations, trying to fit in some sightseeing along with a conference, or taking a computer along on a family visit. Inevitably I come home from those trips stressed and anxious — either at how little I accomplished, or how much I missed of family time while trying to work. Sometimes, I think, it’s important to draw a line and take a real break. I just hope I remember that next summer.

 

 

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