• Mama PhD

    Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.


Summer Plans

I enjoyed reading about Aeron's "vacation" activities and thought I would continue the thread.

June 19, 2011

I enjoyed reading about Aeron's "vacation" activities and thought I would continue the thread.

Because I work for myself, I don't get an official vacation -- I just take days off here and there, without pay. Last summer, my friend Beth invited our four-woman singing/support group to her family's camp in Maine for a week, to prepare for a performance. We had a raucously good time, and so we're planning a return visit even though we don't have any upcoming club dates. We might visit my brother for a few days, as well. Other than that, it will be work and classes, but at a more leisurely pace since clients and supervisees will be away more often.

Ben, though, is preparing to embark on Summer-with-a-capital-S. With any luck (fingers crossed for that neuroscience project!) by the next time I write, he will have completed the eleventh grade. He has arranged to feed our neighbors' cats while they travel. Other than that, his summer will be spent playing music and hanging out with his friends.

When I was his age (not to go all fogey, but really) I was working multiple jobs for spending money: I had regular babysitting jobs, plus, I spent my seventeenth summer decorating cakes at our local Baskin-Robbins and sewing name labels into other kids' camp clothes in the basement of a neighborhood clothing store.

I applied for my working papers the day after my sixteenth birthday, and I have never actually stopped working.

Ben and his band are making more money per gig than I ever dreamed of. There is no reason why he should get a regular job. In fact, a regular summer job would impinge on his rehearsal time, and probably on his health, as well, since his band sometimes doesn't go on until 10 or later, and he needs to sleep in the next day.

And he is not a materialistic kid, except where music and sports equipment are concerned. He buys cheap, non-designer jeans and wears them down to a thread. He owns one pair of sneakers, which he wears every day until the soles become holey and separate from the fabric, and then he orders an identical pair online. On the rare occasion when he has to dress up, he wears his one and only suit and borrows a shirt and shoes from his dad. He's not that interested in food, certainly not in fine dining. The activities he enjoys most are playing music, hanging out with his girlfriend and his other friends, and playing any sport that involves a ball and running around. Except for "needing" to upgrade his guitar or amp, and outgrowing or wearing out cleats and gloves, he's very low-maintenance. So it's not as if he needs a regular paycheck to offset all of his expenses.

Yet there is a part of me that doesn't feel right about this -- that feels he "should" be bagging groceries or chasing after campers; that he is missing out on a rite of passage into the adult world.

But what rite would that be? Doing boring stuff eight hours a day? He already suffers through school. Dealing with demanding bosses and difficult co-workers? He is in two bands and is the captain of his school's varsity baseball team.

Maybe. I'm just channeling my father (an IRS agent) and my father-in-law (a butcher) who never believed I had a real job because first I just sat in an office all day and wrote things, and now I just listen to other people's problems. Ben does have a real job, and he performs it responsibly -- it's just hard for his parents to take in.


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