I have a love-hate relationship with summer. Every year as the school year screeches to a halt, I get the same bittersweet feeling. The kids lose their structured schedules, and I lose my mind. I become envious of the moms who can plan whatever they want June through August. I begin to imagine what it would be like to have summers to do nothing but enjoy them. Translation: No client meetings. No deadlines. No conference calls. No long days in New York City in 95-degree heat.
Furthermore, I would have time to cook balanced meals, rather than rely on the local pizza place to improperly nourish my kids. Maybe, just maybe, I would stop feeling guilty for not being the one who is re-applying sunscreen to my kids’ porcelain skin after three hours in the pool every day. Perhaps I would also stop comparing myself to the moms who seem to have their entire vacation-hopping summer schedules mapped out long before Easter Sunday.
In truth, I actually can’t even fathom what it would be like to take more than two weeks a year off, let alone a summer. I have worked since I was 13-years-old and from then on, have had a job and earned a paycheck. So it’s understandable that my envy meter can’t go any higher right around June 15th when I want to throw in the towel at work and throw my phone in a bottomless body of water where it can’t be retrieved and I can’t be reached. In other words, I want to feel free.
I don’t necessarily envy the moms home with little kids who need round-the-clock attention or have to abide by strict nap schedules. Rather, I think of all the moms I know that have school-age kids like mine who are independent and really don’t require a whole lot minus being fed, directed and carpooled. I wonder what it would be like to take the kids away for weeks at a time without one passing thought of a job responsibility. I could join the masses of moms who post perfect, unfiltered Instagram photos of their kids frolicking on the beaches of Nantucket, Amagansett or the South of France. I could be one of the moms who leisurely drops off her kids at camp and then proceeds to the courts for games of round-robin. Rather, I am the one kissing my kids goodbye on the fly as I simultaneously check the Metro-North train schedule or rush to my car to take a 9:00 a.m. conference call with a client in Europe.
As quickly as summer comes though, it goes. September sneaks up and my mindset begins to shift. Every year. Guaranteed. This happens. I start to genuinely appreciate my job, the example I am setting for my kids and that my husband treats me as his equal. I am thankful for guilt-free spending and that clients keep coming back. I feel a sense of accomplishment and ponder all the things I still want to achieve in my work life. Do I really want to give this up? No way. The reality is I am a better parent, wife and a more balanced person because I have a career that I love … well, nine months out of the year anyway.
This article originally appeared on WorkingMother.com.