Is It Over Yet?Lisa Quinones-Fontanez
There was a time in my life when Spring Break meant sun bathing in Miami, dancing till dawn and tequila shots at Wet Willie’s. (Sorry, you will not be seeing slide show of those days. Those Spring Breaks days were a long time ago…)
This week my seven year-old son, Norrin, is on Spring Break. (Needless to say, there’s no sunbathing, dancing or tequila.) And being a mom who works outside of the home, Spring Break is more of a curse than a blessing.
Let me explain.
I am lucky to have a job that provides generous vacation time. But between the NYC school bus strike and all the snow days, I’ve used a considerable amount of vacation time – and we’re not even in April yet. And I don’t have the kind of job where working from home is an option.
I’m also a mom in her last semester of graduate school, trying to finish a 120 page thesis by the first week of May.
My husband, Joseph, who also works outside of the home, has the same amount of vacation time as me but with much less flexibility – so it’s rare when we can take time off together.
And having a child with autism, makes child care so much more challenging – especially all day child care. We’ve tried day cares in the past, but the care we can afford can’t handle or doesn’t want a kid with autism. And the ones appropriate for kids with autism are crazy expensive or with a waiting list years long. As for babysitters – we just can’t afford to pay someone to come to our home to watch Norrin all day long – in addition to the 10 – 15 hours per week of special education/ABA service providers.
FYI: Being a special needs parents is expensive. No, no. Whatever number you’re thinking of –
double quadruple it.
So when there are week long breaks, we juggle and scramble to make things work. I’ll take a vacation day or two and stay home with Norrin. The ABA therapist will come to our apartment and work with Norrin for a few hours while I catch up on schoolwork or laundry. Some days I’ll take the train with Norrin to my mother’s and then go to work. Joseph will get out of work, drive to my mother’s to get Norrin and then pick me up from work. Other days, I’ll bring Norrin into work with me, have my mother come and get him – she’ll walk him around the city for a few hours and then bring him back to me. Then Norrin and I will take the train home together.
Sometimes, when I’m really lucky, I’ll score a spot at our office emergency day care – which I also need to mindful of because if the group of kids is too large – Norrin can’t handle it and he can’t stay there the whole day. (I’m exhausted just writing this.)
No two days of our breaks are ever the same. And it takes working mom guilt to a whole other level. There is no rhyme, reason or routine when it comes to Norrin’s breaks from school. We just go with the flow and do whatever works. And at the end of the break, none of us are really rested.
What about you? Is Spring Break stressful or relaxing?
Read more of Lisa’s writing at AutismWonderland.
Catch up on some of Lisa’s other Babble articles: