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On Being Weird, Part 2

alec vanderboom

I found being  on a relaxing vacation very stressful. Weird, no? There was a moment at 3 PM on Saturday, after a full 24 hours of being off "Mom Duty" that I begged my husband to take me home. We were sitting on this old fashion Titanic Like wicker chaise lounges waiting to be called for afternoon tea. I saw a young family eating in the courtyard in front of us. Suddenly this longing came up in me. It wasn't so much missing a specific kid. I missed having something to do.

I'm usually complaining about that part of motherhood. There is always something to do. Someone needs a sippy cup or a diaper change or urgently needs help spelling the word nemesis. It's impossible for me to have a conversation on the phone with a friend, or write a blog post, or kiss my husband without some urgent call for help. I spend most of my day lightly aggravated that I don't get to self-determine my day.

Yet in that peaceful hotel last weekend, it suddenly felt oppressive to not have anything to do. I sort of panicked. Who am I if I don't have somebody's lunch meat to cut up?

After I babbled about my strange feelings, my husband gently grabbed my hand and said "you need this vacation as much as I do."

Now that I'm back home, I'm trying the radical concept of "downtime." I realize that there was an adage "nap when the baby naps." Now that I have multiple kids, I don't nap with the teething baby naps. I do the things that are hard to do while the active baby is awake. I homeschool. I catch up on laundry. I make bread. I'm up during the night with the baby and I'm up during the day with the rest of the kids.

Moreover, sleeping doesn't really count as "downtime" anyway. If I go to sleep stressed, then chances are I wake up stressed. What I realized in that unfamiliar time over vacation is that downtime is more about sitting still and doing nothing. This book I'm reading advocates downtime for "one hour a day, one day a week, one week every 16 weeks." That seems a very ambitious goal for me. Yet, I'm game for it.