Mid-Life Spring Break Crisis

Wanna feel 100 years old?

Go on Spring Break in Cabo, Mexico!

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They flock like moths to a flame.  Boys and girls in the sweet spot of youth, anywhere between 18 – 24 years old.  Outside this narrow margin, you are ancient.

The Cabo airport was packed beyond capacity with a seemingly endless line zig-zagging through countless switchbacks en route to Customs. Restless as they waited, swarms of sorority girls in matching sweatshirts emblazoned with Greek symbols flipped their highlighted hair while gangly boys with a day-old stubble and college baseball caps askew on their heads dragged their duffels.  The poorly air-conditioned room reeked of hairspray, bubblegum, beer breath, sun lotion, and sweat…all laced with a healthy dose of overactive hormones.

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I was clearly out of my element.  Chaperoning fifteen 18 year olds put me in the strange position of being constantly on guard.  I felt watchful and protective, like an old St. Bernard dog.  I had been thrown in the kennel with a bunch of puppies!

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For perspective, I was the same age as these girls exactly THIRTY YEARS AGO!

My youth is a somewhat distant memory:  I remember getting ready at 11:00 pm to go out for the night when I lived in NYC after college.  I remember dancing till dawn, literally.  I remember falling off a bar stool after too many lemon-drop shots.  I remember thinking there weren’t really any consequences that were so terrible.  I remember that there are things I DON’T remember.  I was young, invincible, and the world was my playground.

And so, I should not have been surprised when the girls were ready to go out every single night and wanted to push their curfew later and later.  While I was fretting about all sorts of potential problems, they were completely and blissfully worry free.  Thanks to the vigilance of some wonderful security staff at the hotel, they were safely chaperoned as they made the rounds at the popular spring break meccas, Nowhere Bar and Squid Roe.

Honestly, there is not enough tequila in the world to drown my middle-aged sea of worry.  Though, a good tamarind margarita does help buoy one’s spirits!

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Thankfully, I was not alone.  One other brave mom agreed to accompany me on the trip.  As you can imagine, we became somewhat famous (infamous?) for being the moms “with all the girls”.  Several people looked at me with saucer-sized eyes and proclaimed in dead seriousness, “You are crazy“.   Locals addressed me as Señora Cathy, and I’m pretty sure muttered under their breath, “¿estás loco“?  Probably.

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But then again, how wonderful to spend a week in a sunny paradise sharing time with Katie and getting to know her friends, a privilege I do not have because she is at boarding school.

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I have often thought I should have been an English teacher, shaping young minds and studying the texts I so love.  I created an idyllic vision of living on a bucolic campus, raising my children in an inspired environment, and keeping curiosity alive.  Now I know better.  The main part of that job is corralling teenagers, monitoring “parietals” (the boy-girl visitations), and policing potential problems.  It isn’t so idyllic.

If I had to describe the dynamic, I would say I was politely tolerated by the group. Don’t get me wrong, the girls were lovely and respectful but also incredibly independent.  I watched the toddlers screaming in the pool, begging their parents to catch them…splash them..watch them…”Look at me!  Look at me!”  The passage of time was painfully obvious when my daughter mostly tried to avoid eye contact as she slipped away with friends during the day, leaving me behind…”Don’t look at me“.  It was like I was there but not there at the same time.

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As our last day drew to a close with an outrageously beautiful sunset, I was relieved that we had all made it through the week unscathed.  I feel like I need a vacation from my vacation.

Hasta la vista Cabo…Adios Señora Cathy!

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