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.
Jennifer Bickerton is the mother of three (7, 9 and 10) and the founder of JJB PR. She has 20+ years experience in public relations, and has developed and executed communication strategies for some of the most recognizable names in beauty, including Shiseido, Guerlain, NARS, Fresh, MAC, Frederic Fekkai, ZIIP Beauty and many others. She resides in a suburb of NYC.