Pushing Past Guilt to Take a Break


It started with a choice: should I stay or should I go?*

*(Cue the Clash)

My husband is on the brink of beginning his ordination process into the Presbyterian U.S.A. church. This entails multiple rounds of tests and interviews over the course of the year. 

One round of tests begins in Richmond, Virginia in late July on a random Thursday and Friday. Since he's the primary caretaker of our one-year-old son, my mom graciously offered to watch our little boy for the duration.

Meaning: If I worked, I'd be without my kid or husband from Wednesday evening to Saturday afternoon. I had a decision. I could stay in town, work through the rest of the week and be alone in the house for a few days, or take a few days of work off and travel with the whole gang to my hometown and push the pause button on routine, traffic and little loads of little person laundry.

I didn't really need a break. Not really. Summers are infinite. They're long and lazy, like a cat stretching on the carpet by your feet. They twist and curl right along with its twitching tail. It's easy, in the twilight that looks like fire, to be content in the rest.

To need a break in the midst of all of this slow, catty wilderness? That would just be weak.

Or would it?

It shouldn't have been such a big decision. It should've been easy. Of course I go to spend a few extra days with my family. Of course I take the time to bask in the summer to feel close to the ground, to smell the rain, to have a cup of tea in the afternoon because I want it, not because I need it to help me get through another afternoon of sorting emails and staring at a computer screen.

So, I went.

What made me come to this deep and profound realization, you ask? 

First of all: there should be nothing deep and profound about taking a break. I mean, really. Eye-roll to the max. 

I wish I could say it had to do with sage wisdom I've gained over my nearly 30 years on this planet. The truth of the matter is, I have 22 vacation days banked. And while our company lets a few carry over into the new year, for the most part if I don't use them, I'll lose them. And I really, really don't want to lose them.

The guilt was keeping me here. How would that look? I'd already taken a whole week off this summer.  I didn't really need a break. I didn't really deserve one. 

But there should be nothing deep and profound about taking time away.

Heck, even deities take a day when they're creating the universe. So, why not us?

Often I'm so consumed with the thought of how others will perceive my actions that I'm scared or disenchanted from taking action in the first place. 

We can either have a schedule or let our schedules have us. And, for certain, I'm thankful to look back on these last few days. To push my little boy around in a red wagon, to hug my husband, to drink coffee at the kitchen table with my mom.

And to rest. 

The guilt might always be there. I don't know.

Maybe we'll all get to a place where we can let ourselves off the hook for a moment long enough to put the "joy" in "enjoy." 



Brett Tubbs