Good morning! I’m writing this from way up in the air, en route from Austin back to New York. I bought a wifi pass to get some work done on the 3+ hour flight and I was going to write a column for this morning, but I didn’t have any letters in my in-box I felt inspired to answer. So, I thought I’d use this time to check in and say hi.
We had a fun, whirlwind weekend in Austin, arriving Saturday around noon and leaving early this morning. If you follow my Instagram stories, you already saw the highlights of the weekend — lots of tacos, drinks, wandering around, and hanging out. One of the best things about having a couple days away from one’s kids/ responsibilities is simply being able to hang out, specifically without plans or an agenda. Wanna stay in bed ’til 10? Go for it! Wanna go to a bar at 1 pm? Sure! Change your mind halfway there and decide to see a movie instead? Great! Freedom — to feel truly liberated with your time, when it’s usually maxed out with responsibilities and obligations to others — is such a sweet, sweet thing.
So, Drew and I had a good time, and now we’re looking forward to seeing the kids. It’s amazing how just two days away can fill your heart with a longing for these little people you love so much. I mean, don’t get me wrong — if I’d had another day or two to hang out, I’d happily take it. But missing my kids is a nice feeling, too — one I don’t get to experience very often.
While I was away, I received an email from a regular DW reader who said she thought of me the other evening when she realized she needed a break — from the daily grind of work and the pressures of motherhood (she’s a first-time mom to baby), so she met up with a friend for some happy hour drinks and, just as she was beginning to feel guilty for taking some time for herself, leaving her husband to deal with the baby and home, she thought about how I preach the importance of taking regular breaks. So, just in case you’re new here or for some reason haven’t gotten that message yet: it’s important to take regular breaks! This goes for everyone, but especially women, who not only often carry more burden of obligations and care-giving, but who generally feel more guilt when they step away from their various roles for a minute. It’s not only ok to step away, it’s necessary. Giving yourself time, a change of scenery, the chance to reconnect to: your partner; friends; nature; the activities and things you love, keeps you sane and gives you the strength to keep being a great: employee; wife; mom; friend; daughter; engaged citizen (which is now more important than ever).
I’ll be home in a few hours and I’ll have two kids and two cats who will want/need/demand my attention. I’ll need to quickly plan dinner, maybe grocery shop, unpack and do laundry, tidy up, go through mail, and deal with various loose ends that will need some tying. But getting away for a couple days temporarily changed the progression of emotional and physical fatigue. While I don’t exactly feel refreshed (I was up at 5 am twice in 48 hours to catch early flights), I do feel renewed, and reconnected to Drew and to my core self. I feel better ready to give my attention to all that requires it when I get back home, and any hint of resentment that may have been gnawing at me for the demands of my time and attention has been tempered again. Regular breaks in whatever forms you can swing — happy hours with friends, a solo trip to the movies, a night out with your partner, a weekend getaway, a vacation from your reality — are essential. So, that’s my advice for this morning. And also this: If you are a parent who has kids you usually pack punches for in the mornings, do yourself a favor and start packing them the night before. It might even change your life. Or at least give you an extra five minutes in the morning to catch your breath.