By the end of next week, school will be out for summer vacation (feel free to cue Alice Cooper here). There will be no more school pick-ups and drop offs. No more field trips, conferences, and school related errands or events. Not for two and a half months anyway. Two and a half months of pure summer goodness. So much summer goodness that I can’t help but breathe deeply at the mere thought of it.
You see, since the age of 15, I have worked. Pizza places, a half-dozen offices, a radio station, etc. I’ve worked a few blocks from home and commuted all the way to the Central Valley. Then after I had my second child, I decided I didn’t want to deal with office politics or sending my kids to daycare anymore. So I became a family daycare provider out of my home.
Now there was a lot of great things about working from home, but doing daycare didn’t change the fact that I was still answering to other people all the time. The days were long and there was no break for holidays or summer vacation — except for the occasional day here and there, which I would have to clear with all my families way ahead of time. And even then would have to hear about it from them when they had to find other care for their kids that day.
So even though I was home, I was still chained to my house as much as I ever was chained to my desk when I worked in an office.
But then last September as the crop of kids I had been watching moved on, instead of filling my spots I closed my doors. I had been freelance writing for about two years at that point and felt it was time to give writing a shot as my main source of income.
Now, nine months later, we are struggling. Though I have a handful of writing and new media jobs (ahem, you are reading one), none of them equal what I was making while running daycare, which wasn’t all that much as it was. I’m still hustling looking for the one gig that will allow us to breathe a little easier each month. And there is always the ever looming possibility I’ll have to give up the writing and go back to find an office job of some sort somewhere. Or maybe teach preschool part time, something I’ve done in a fill-in capacity through out the latter half of this school year.
But this summer, I’m just a writer. A writer who gets to make her own schedule and work early in the morning or late at night so that she can spend the rest of the summer days with her kids. A writer who can pack up her laptop and write creek side while her kids play in the water or at the park.
This summer, I get a summer vacation. This first one I’ve had in almost 20 years. And it just might be another 20 years before I get another. And I’ll tell you what; I am going to make the most of it.