So What Are You Doing Over Summer Vacation….?

I watched my youngest graduate from high school and, while I was extremely proud of her, it was a bittersweet moment for me. Proud, because of her many accomplishments and the four years of hard work she has been committed to so completely. She ends high school with a 4.0 G.P.A., and will be attending our local University with a double major of media studies and political science. At the same time, though, her graduation signaled the end of many things, some of which I didn’t even realize that I’d cherished until I was confronted with their loss: such as staying up late helping her with last-minute assignments; holding her when some ridiculous boy has broken her heart; the end of running up to the local department store because she was just invited to some banquet or other and needed something appropriate to wear; and acting as her advocate with teachers and administrators when her passionate dedication to fairness was not considered by those in authority.

Last year, when her sister graduated, I knew that the era of my being primarily their mother was nearly over. Sitting in the bleachers next to sobbing parents and cheering underclassmen, I realized that the time was now. How often do we face that critical moment of our life changing and realize that that is exactly what it is? In my Death and Dying class we actually spend a large portion of the class discussing exactly these types of cultural rituals and how they affect not just the individuals, but also the community. Is it a blessing to be faced so squarely by the transitional moment, by our role change?

Sometimes the changing moment is much less clearly defined and we spend hours, even days and weeks, trying to sort through the details of our lives and make some sense of the changes. I am speaking here of the end of my spring semester.

Transitions means life is changing, whether we’re ready or not!

To me, that means that now I must acknowledge that the long days of summer stretch out in front of me for the next 2 ½ months and it will be my job to fill them, or risk growing rusty and dull.  After the crazy running around I’ve been doing all school year, the idea of so much time is delicious and a bit terrifying – at the same time.

So what are you doing for your summer vacation? As they turned in their finals, many of my students asked me this. I wish I could say that I will be sleeping in, eating wonderful family meals full of philosophical conversations with friends and family, and watching countless fun movies. Instead, I honestly told them I would be writing as the bulk of my lazy and long days. I have a PhD dissertation to finish, after all. I’ve longed for the chance to dedicate 6, 7, even 8 hours of uninterrupted writing. As a working student myself, I face many of the same schedule and time challenges that my students face. so that won’t, sadly, be all that I’m doing!

As the weeks pass, here in my blog I’ll be writing about the less frenetic but still rather complicated juggling I’m doing over the long, hot, slow days of summer. Whether it’s finding time for my writing, planning for my upcoming classes, adjusting future curriculum, getting my summer unemployment insurance set up, job hunting for Fall 2010, reacquainting myself with friends sadly neglected, or spending time with my quickly-leaving-me-behind family it’s still all a juggling act. I hope you’ll stay with me over the summer months.

I close this week’s blog with a question for you: What did you do over your summer vacation?

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