It’s the first morning of my one-week vacation from work and I started it with an ant in my armpit. After a night of completely uncomfortable sleep, my body aching absolutely everywhere, I finally got into a comfortable position for a last bit of rest before getting up for the day with my daughter and suddenly felt this weird itch moving across my armpit. I swatted, looked down, and shrieked. One of my worst nightmares is having insects in my bed, though I guess if there had to be one, thank goodness it was an ant even if it was as gigantic as a spider. I just hope this isn’t a foreshadowing of my vacation to come.
This is supposed to be my refuge from the three most stressful years of my life. I always thought high school was the most anxiety-filled time of my life because I was so hopelessly unpopular and ridiculed by probably 75 percent of the school population, but welcome surprise-motherhood and wedding planning and house hunting and home renovations. Let’s not take this the wrong way either…I love being a mother, always thought I was meant to be one, and wouldn’t give up my daughter for a single thing in the world, but I’m not going to pretend that it didn’t give me incredible stress to find myself pregnant before I’d even gotten married or gone back to school to find my way to a real career; we couldn’t even afford a safer car than my 10-year-old Mustang! And I’d always dreamed of how exciting it would be to plan my wedding, but insert two full-time jobs (one at an office, one as a mother at home), budget problems, and conflict over other people’s expectations of your wedding and you have an event that’s not so happy to plan. No surprise that after hiring a photographer because of his amazing outdoor photos it was pouring rain all day for my wedding……
Anyway, after the wedding was over (which I did absolutely love, so don’t get distracted by my above honesty) and we took a not-so-relaxing “honeymoon” at home with our one-year-old, I thought life would finally even out and we’d be able to just live and be happy. Sure, there was still school to plan for, but that’s something that was going to take time anyway; it didn’t have a deadline and other people to please. But insert house hunting…Wow. When the market is finally starting to rise after a recession, you do not want to be the person trying to find a house. Several months later, here we are in the new house, half painted with an apocalyptic yard and, until last week, having only one working bathroom and a quarter of a working kitchen (no countertops, no cooktop, no dishwasher, no sink). Oh, and did I mention the bugs that keep appearing out of nowhere…? 🙂
It’s safe to say I’ve desperately needed to get away. And sure, I’ve had “vacations” (from work) here and there, but they never really felt like as much. I mean, is Christmas week really a vacation when your husband is still at work and you have to cook for two different family events (not to mention prepare your house for and then clean up after them), not to mention find a place for all your kid’s new toys? Not so much. Honestly, the last time I felt at all relaxed for any extended period of time was maternity leave. I had three blissful months away from work and even though I never got more than an hour or two’s very light sleep at a time, which were often spent with an infant in my arms, I never cared because I didn’t have anywhere to be. It was amazing. Of course, I was very lucky to have such an easy baby; G. never really cried and was easy to please. It really was just eat, sleep, poop. I’d stay in my pajamas all day (until feeling like a scrub got the best of me) and just sit on the couch watching syndicated sitcoms (I still miss Fresh Prince of Bel Air…). I even had time to cook and clean!
I mean, there’s something to be said about stay-at-home parents. I will never understand how a person can snub their nose at a woman who spends her days taking care of her children (to me, the most important job in the world with the most hats one could ever possibly wear) while cleaning the house and cooking for her family, not to mention any extension of those duties like running errands or chauffeuring her kids to and from play dates or extracurricular activities. Sure, you are superwoman if you do all of those things and work a full-time job, but get over yourself. Honestly, what happened to the importance of stress-relief and relaxation? Why is America so obsessed with “hard work” that we look down on people for wanting to feel good? Not that I’m saying stay-at-home moms get a lot of relaxation. My point is that when one parent is at home, there’s a wider opening in the door for getting some refuge from day-to-day stresses. When one parent has spent part of each day cleaning, cooking, running errands, etc, then those things are done before the other parent gets home or, at the least, more of it is done. And, in that case, there’s room on days off for both of them to actually enjoy themselves. Whereas when you have two full-time working parents, nothing gets done at home while they’re at work, in which case they’re left to exhaust themselves trying to take care of their kids and clean the house and cook for the entire family after they’ve just gotten home from eight or more hours at a paid job. Weekends aren’t for relaxation anymore, they’re for more work. And I just want to know when we started turning our noses up at people who think that time is important. Our bodies need it. Our minds need it. We weren’t made to toil and toil until our bones disintegrate and I don’t know why anybody would want to do that, as if you’re pathetic for wanting anything else.
With that said, I’m looking forward to the rest of this week. It’s my time to let my mind and body regain their strength after constant work and I hope beyond hope that I’m able to let this happen. There are still things to do around the house; after all, we’re staying at home in the disarray of moving boxes and still don’t have the budget to go out. But I can forget about renovating, waking up at 5 am, making meals to prepare for tomorrow, wondering whether I’ll be starving or wanting to fall asleep at my desk, worrying about whether there are anymore work-appropriate clothes for the week that actually fit me, trying to prepare and cook dinner alone with my daughter while waiting for my husband to get home…Even though there’s laundry to wash, groceries to buy, a mess to organize, there’s nothing to clutter my mind like the everyday of a full-time paid job, full-time mom job, full-time wife job, and part-time home contractor job. Plus, I’ve noticed that the one time my mind feels at ease is when I’m at home with my daughter, so there’s something to keep my thoughts up 🙂