A Different Spin on Spring Break — by Jamie
I have many wonderful memories of past Spring Breaks, ranging from a carefree trip I took to the Bahamas with my parents and my good friend at the end of high school, to an alcohol-infused vacation I had in Acapulco with a bunch of college pals, to my solo adventure in New Zealand on a singles tour while I was studying for a semester in Sydney, Australia. Good times. Really good times.
And now, for the first time in almost twenty years, I’m on Spring Break again: A ten-day hiatus from my classes at Queens College, where I’m working on my degree to become a Speech Language Pathologist. As I finished my final test last week, and completed an important Statistics lab assignment over the weekend, I felt a huge swell of relief…but it’s far from party-time for me.
My first day of “vacation” was spent working on a freelance project (which, thankfully I didn’t have to do at night, which is when I generally complete my paid work during the semester), doing several loads of laundry, and scrubbing the bathroom clean—before I raced out to pick up Jayda from daycare and headed to a play date. While chatting on the phone that night with a good friend, who asked me what I was going to do with my time off (alluding to lots of potential R&R for me, and perhaps some great social activities), I rattled off a list of things I needed to get done. Most importantly, I need to renegotiate a lease for my car (as it’s up in 6 weeks), and figure out health insurance plans for me and Jayda (since my Cobra expires at the end of May). Also on that list is figuring out my Fall class schedule (I have to register after Spring Break, and it’s crucial that I secure four important classes in order to apply to Grad school in the winter), reorganizing my parents’ garage (where I’ve stored boxes of things from my former apartment for the past three years, and have finally been asked to remove them), and running a myriad of long-overdue errands. In sum, this Spring Break will be a far cry from drinking Margaritas on the beach and hooking up with hot guys.
And yet it’s still a big relief. Ever since Jayda was born, my life has been non-stop; when new responsibilities unfold, I take them on, because there is no alternative. I’m a mom—and a pretty good one, I think—and it’s my job to do whatever I must to make a good life for myself and my daughter. At one time, that meant commuting to the city every day for work, and still managing to cook, clean, shop, and spend quality time with my daughter during the week. Now, it means taking on as much freelance work as I can, excelling in my college classes, and still accomplishing those aforementioned chores and taking care of my daughter (and enjoying her!) as well as I can. When more is required of me, I dig deeply and do more—because that’s what a single mother does. And I manage; I juggle, I organize, and I make it through every day just fine. But losing one layer of responsibility does make a difference: It’s like removing just a bit of pressure that’s been holding me down, and allowing myself to take an extra deep breath. And that much-needed breath is a very nice thing. It means I can go to the gym a few extra days this week, snuggle with my daughter a little bit longer on mornings when I’d normally fly out of bed to get ready for my long drive to school, and, mentally, have a bit more space in my brain to focus on what’s most important in my life: Jayda.
I won’t be completely carefree this week, and I certainly won’t be without responsibilities, but I can still enjoy my break. I can even make myself a mean Margarita. But as for the hot guy on the beach, he’ll have to wait. First, I have a second degree to earn, money to make, and an amazing little girl who needs my attention right now—and is much more worthy of my time.