Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Vacation - What the Hell is That?

Do you remember how much fun vacations were as a kid?  How much you looked forward to Christmas vacation and summer vacation?  Sleep until 11 a.m., play until mama called you home by screaming your name through a pitch dark neighborhood. I rode my bike for hours on end.  I made dirt pies.  I practiced cartwheels in the grass. 

As adults, do we really ever take vacation?  I can speak for myself and say without hesitation - a big fat NO.  It is almost impossible for most of us to let go and escape the outside world.  Internet access is everywhere (even on airplanes, which is actually where I am at this very moment), email follows us on our cell phones.  And we SWEAR we will turn it off, walk away.  But do we really?  Again, I sure as hell don't.  And I very much don't like this fact about myself.

Just once a few years ago I took a two week vacation with my husband (pre L-bomb arrival) to his family's lake cottage in northern Michigan.  I did not turn on my laptop.  I unsynced my cell phone so that it would not receive email.  And I came home to over 500 messages, NOT including spam.  3 days and 5 panic attacks later, I was finally caught up.  Was it worth it?  I'm not so sure. 

Now when I take vacation, I check in on email once or twice a day.  Usually first thing in the morning and again at the end of the business day.  But I keep my cell phone with me at all times should I need to be reached.  And maybe to take a quick peek.  Or twelve.  I want to know WHY I do this.  Perfectionism?  Devotion to career?

First, it really is not worth it to me to come home to hundreds of emails b/c the post vacation bliss is immediately erased.  I prefer to clean out the ol' inbox a couple of times a day, delete what is crap, and save (and yes sometimes respond to) the important stuff.  It makes me feel better.  But it comes at the price of never being 100% relaxed and disconnected from the shit that I am trying to get away from in the first place.  My husband does it.  I have co-workers that do it.  I am in awe.  I ENVY them. 

Second, when you throw a child into the mix (and especially a 'spirited' toddler like my sweet baby Lucy), vacations are no longer fun.  They are WORK.  They are stressful.  You spend your time watching and chasing and trying to entertain a child with the attention span of a gnat.  You have to pray upon the kindness of friends and in-laws to watch your demon spawn while you go for a bike ride with your husband.  During which you hold the handlebars with one hand and check email on your cell phone with the other.  And so the vicious cycle continues.  Email actually becomes a welcome distraction from the repeated sound of 'mommy! mommy! mommy!'.  And you know I adore my child.  But damn.  I practically skip when I drop her off at daycare after we return from vacation. 

So I throw out this dilemma to the universe.  How do you turn it off when you take time off?  Is there such a thing as taking vacation anymore? 

Don't even get me started on how I spent my maternity leave...

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