In the English language, there are two words that, when used together, can foster unity, joy, and a spirit of togetherness between parents, teachers and children. These two words describe an event that almost everyone can agree is fantastic, well-timed and much-needed. These two words, synonymous with happiness, are “Fall Break.” Unless you're me, of course. I sort of hate fall break. Not because I'm some sort of school-loving break-hater, but because I love these breaks a little too much.
I'm halfway through the first semester of my senior year at MTSU. Since my sophomore year of college, when I became a mom, I've been taking my classes full-time online. Without professors there to remind you of deadlines and exam dates, it’s tough to keep up with it all. Add to that the stresses of working two part-time jobs and raising a child, and I’m quickly approaching basket-case status (scratch that—I’m there). However, the fact that I can (and do) wear pajamas while taking a Nursing Informatics exam totally makes up for it.
Once I get going each semester, I'm pretty good at managing my time and getting everything done on schedule. I get used to the stress level of meeting every deadline and it becomes the normal way for me to operate. Then fall break comes along, looking fabulous with its entire week (or more!) of free days and the delightful lack of deadlines and 12 page research papers.
The leaves are changing, pumpkin patches are operating full swing, the air is crisp, something smells like apple cider, and I almost want to love fall break. Maybe I do love it. The problem: it completely saps my productivity. Two or three days into the week long break, and I can’t remember what it felt like to crank out 1200 word literature analyses in 5 hours, or why I’d ever want to do that. I can’t remember why I’m even in college to begin with. The fall break is so nice, I’d be willing to give up my educational dreams if I could carve pumpkins and bake Halloween sugar cookies forever.
During the weeklong break, my productivity level dips dangerously low and my brain starts gathering dust. The only things I read during this time are the backs of cereal boxes and children’s books (with Molly, of course). Things are great until I consider the fact that in a few short days, school will be back in session (with a complete lack of pumpkin carving and sugar cookies). Thanks for that, Fall Break.
I don’t have many real Fall Breaks left—if I finish school on time, I will have one more. Even though it’s a love/hate relationship, I’ll try to milk every minute of fall-time free time while I still can. After all, part of becoming a real grown up is giving up the breaks our lives revolved around as children: summer, spring and fall break, and naptime. To be honest, I think I miss naptime the most (said every parent ever).
Debra Carpenter is a novice mother, wife and college student. She writes about the parts of parenthood you didn’t expect when you were expecting. Like the fan page at facebook.com/motherinterrupted or visit the website at motherinterrupted.com.