Saturday, March 12, 2011

March Broke

Today marks the first day in a week long 'break' for students and teachers in the school system in much of our province.  It goes by many names:  March Break, Winter Break, Spring Break.

Since becoming a parent, I have found that this week is a mixed blessing.  As both a parent and teacher, the change of routine is welcome.  However, this particular holiday is loaded with expectations that one will go somewhere or do something of consequence.  I have been on the receiving end of a great deal of pressure this year from my two youngest children to head down south.  In their minds, they are amongst the very few of their contemporaries not heading to a sunny southern clime.  Thus, I did the requisite searches, quickly coming to the conclusion that it would cost $6,000 - $8,000 for four of us to fly south and be housed and fed for this one prime travel week.  Unfortunately for all concerned, it is not in the budget.  The level of disappointment in our household remains high - which is decidedly unpleasant.  As a joint custodial parent, it is "my" March Break year.  This opportunity rolls round every second year and I am left feeling as if I have dropped the ball - especially since one child heads off to university in the fall.

This is one of those times when I do not enjoy being a mother.  Personally, I feel no compulsion to travel south.  It is not in my budget, it doesn't sit well with my global philosophy and environmental sensibilities, it opens up the issue and cost of pet care for my aging canines, I have skin that should be protected from the sun for the rest of my days and a body that is certainly not primed for parading in a bathing suit.  (Note to self:  stop eating corn chips every day!)  I could extend my list but it is clear that I have almost zero need to head south for a week.   However, the real issue is that I am the reason my children are not having the March Break that they so desire.  I actively avoid burdening myself with 'mother guilt' in my life and am usually quite successful.  Not so this time.  We have put a few local plans in place but will have a lot of free time and budget limitations before school resumes.

Beyond all of the pettiness of our modern middle class travel expectations and sense of entitlements, there are currently so many real 'breaks' in our world.  What about Libya, Egypt, Christchurch, Japan, Haiti, the warming trend of our northern hemisphere, the state of violence in our National Hockey League?  The daily stream of media coverage and commentary of events around the globe leaves one sensing that much is broken and is in urgent need of repair.  Any one of us can look beyond these macro world events and reflect upon the micro events of our personal lives and relationships.  There are broken relationships, loved ones coping with broken bodies that are diseased and injured, broken promises that have left a sorry trail in their wake, broken appliances, broken cell phones that need replacing, broken this, broken that.

And so, what to do?  How to be?  What to think?  This week presents many of us with challenges, rather than escapes.  As we sit one week away from the official arrival of spring, I do think that we can be elevated by taking the time to serve where we might, repair what we can, and appreciate all that is right and good.  Personally, the oft-quoted Marcel Proust is most helpful to me as I head into the week:

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”

The challenge will be to impart some of this wisdom to my family members!

Enjoy the Break!

Wondering Woman