My department’s equivalent of “opening” happens on Friday with the return of our Orientation staff. I’m feeling the typical range of excitement, gratitude for the approaching fall weather, cursing myself for making the summer project list too long…and utter terror at the thought of the to-do list. How am I spending this week?
You read this right. Student affairs martyrs of America, I know you are freaking out and probably are getting ready to e-mail my supervisor to find out how this is possible.
There is a three and a half week gap between the closing of my son’s preschool on campus and the start of his next step in the journey, kindergarten. With such a long period of time to schedule, we needed to wait until this point in the summer to take a week of vacation as a family and there wasn’t a darned thing I could do about it.
I distinctly remember life before I became a parent and hearing this same explanation from those with children thinking “sure, your kid’s April vacation on the same week as our Spring Week and you’re not coming in? Must be nice to have that option.” I really didn’t know it, but there was no option for many of these people as they, like our family, may not have had the “go-to” relative nearby to help save the day.
I will confess that it’s taken me about two months to make peace with the fact that I was going to be off for the week before opening. I was having a bit of a crisis of guilt mixed with a bit of student affairs martyrdom in thinking that if all of my colleagues across the country were in their offices going nutty then I needed to be too. I am ashamed to even type these words, as someone who preaches the “hire great people and stay out of their way” approach to supervision.
Reality check came next. Guess what?! I did hire great people and they do their best when I stay out of their way and let them shine. Truth be told, the illusion that summer is a ‘break” just isn’t real and we’ve been preparing for this all along. They are going to be crazy busy this week, but it would be that way whether I was there or not because our department is hosting some giant programs coming up in the next two weeks.
I’ve spent all summer patiently waiting for time off with both my husband and son, a quick trip to visit my parents, and the great feeling of more than five sequential days of casual dress. I’ll admit that I’m going to be reading e-mail as it just causes less stress to me to know there are no e-mail surprises. Rest assured though, there won’t be much replying but to a very short list of possible senders. (if your position title has the word “president” anywhere in it, congrats! You’ve made the cut!)
I honestly have no idea how someone can be a “micro manager” and also be a parent. This small redheaded person has taught me so much about loving life while he dictates my vacation schedule, forces seriously inconvenient exits from work due to sicknesses, and has destroyed most every hope I have of ever sleeping late again. I value blow-drying my hair in the morning as my only minutes of solitude each day and the last ten movies I’ve seen in theaters have all been animated.
I wouldn’t have it any other way.