I’m aware that the phrase “college spring break” probably makes it sound like I’m living it up on a crowded and barely clothed beach somewhere, but I can totally assure you, I’m not. In fact, it’s nearly the opposite — it’s still pretty cold here, so everyone around is wearing plenty of clothes, and it’s not very crowded, either.
I know, a sparsely populated and heavily clothed spring break doesn’t sound ideal to most people, but I can explain.
For one wonderful week in March, I get a glimpse of what it’s like to be a “real” stay-at-home mom who doesn’t have an embarrassingly organized and highlighted school assignment notebook (yes, I know what computers are), who doesn’t have to forego fun activities because she has a long-winded paper due, and who goes to bed at a reasonable hour instead of cramming all night for exams that are worth a disproportionate amount of her final grade.
Getting a little taste of the life of a stay-at-home mom who isn’t enrolled in college full-time spoils me a bit. I start to relax and enjoy the little things in life. I have more time to do household chores, and while I never thought that would be a highlight in my life, I really treasure it for the week or two that it happens. I’m suddenly interested in making meals that aren’t done in 30 minutes or less when I don’t have school assignments and reading to worry about, and I don’t have to feel guilty when I’m watching a movie, going somewhere or using my time to sleep in or play “girls” (dolls) with my daughter, Molly.
Each time I get a break from school, it makes it very difficult to go back. How exactly am I supposed to slip back into the groove of higher education after I’ve been exposed to an entire week of freedom and happiness? After I’ve seen the weather take a turn for the better and noticed buttercup shoots poking up through the ground? After I’ve reminded my daughter that I’m not a homework robot and given her glimpses of the fun mom she misses?
Once this break is over, I’m sure I’ll manage the transition back into school just fine. The dishes will pile up once again, dinner will be hastily prepared with whatever ingredients I happen to have on hand, and I can resume feeling guilty any time I do an activity for enjoyment instead of a grade. But don’t worry. I’m not too sad about it. I’m just milking every second of freedom I can while it’s still possible. After all, I still have one more upcoming summer break to get me through this college nightmare — I mean, to look forward to.
After all this university nonsense I’ve been through for about five years now, it better end up having some sort of positive effect on Molly, like inspiring her to stick with college no matter what obstacles get thrown in her way. Encouraging her to become a highly paid executive would be an acceptable effect, too.
(Editor’s Note: Debra Carpenter is a novice mother, wife and college student. She writes a weekly column on the comedy of motherhood and blogs for The Huffington Post. She’s online at MotherInterrupted.com and Twitter @interrupted_ma.)