My Destination Vacation

© Dushenina | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

© Dushenina | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

While most of Santa Barbara was schussing down the slopes at Mammoth or slathering on the sunscreen in Hawaii, I spent my spring break on a guilt trip, once again. I’m a creature of habit and guilt trips are definitely my vacation destination of choice.

Well, not exactly “choice.”

I’d rather be drinking upside down margaritas in Mexico, or yachting in Europe without a care in the world, but given my current bank account, that wasn’t going to be happening this year–again. Like most other creative types who feel incredibly lucky just to be able to eke out a living without selling their souls, when there’s work to be had, I have to work.

Last week just happened to be one of those weeks. It also just happened to be the first week of Koss’s spring break. Yes, that wasn’t a typo. The FIRST week of his spring break. Apparently the families in our school district worked so hard for the three months after our three-week winter break that they need a two-week spring break to oh, say, ski in Mammoth or sun in Hawaii.

Not that I’m bitter or anything. If I could afford to take FIVE weeks off in the middle of the school year and go somewhere glamorous, I’d do it in a heartbeat. I’m sure if I left out enough bowls of cereal, the kid would be fine.

Instead, I sent my son to camp, where he golfed, bowled, fished, hiked, learned a few swear words, and had a marvelous time. I, of course, felt incredibly guilty.

Despite the fact that I take my son to school every day, spend a ridiculous amount of time volunteering at his school when I should be working, then pick my son up from that same school every single day, have a semi-nutritious snack waiting for him in the car, and am always there after school to help him with his homework, schedule play dates, play handball, and take him to soccer/basketball/baseball/whatever else is in season practice–if I spend even a small part of his school breaks working, I feel guilty. If I spend a large part of those breaks working, I feel really guilty.

And if, as was the case last week, I spend a part of those school breaks actually taking a break for myself, say by putting him in camp all day while I do some writing and then go to the movies, I feel really, really guilty. Especially when my husband surprises me and says he wants to go to the movies one night during the week. Do I admit that I’ve actually already seen everything worth seeing? Then I’ll feel really guilty since he’s the one who’s been working full time while I’m doing full time chauffer/ part time career thing from home, which is actually harder, I know, because I’ve worked full time before when he stayed at home, but I feel guilty saying that because I know he’d switch positions with me in a heartbeat if I’d let him.

It’s a vicious cycle. But I’m comforted to know that I’m not the only woman who was raised on a diet of guilt (though mine was well seasoned with plenty of humor, I should add, so that I won’t feel too guilty when my mother reads this). A recent article in the Washington Post told the story of a woman in Virginia who felt so guilty about leaving her family in the evening that she almost missed out on an interesting lecture–titled “Mommy Guilt.”

Honey, I feel your pain, but I’ve decided to play through it anyway.

Rather than guilt tripping about my need to have a little bit of time to myself–and taking it anyway–I’m going to make friends with my guilt and take it on a few more outings this week. You won’t see us on the slopes, unfortunately, but maybe you’ll see us at the movies.

Originally appeared in the Santa Barbara Daily Sound April 6, 2007