I’m going on vacation! I can’t believe it. I’m going on vacation, by MYSELF! With much encouragement from Aya, I’ve decided to take a much needed self-care soul-retreat vacation. Look out California, here I come!
I tend to be the martyr in my family. Always putting everyone’s needs first while leaving my own neglected or forgotten. This has been a painful realization for me. It’s a harmful trap to get yourself in sometimes. It’s noble to take care of everyone else first though, right?
I have a lot of guilt when I reward myself. I have a constant battle between acknowledging I have hit my limit and need a break, and feeling like I’m not working hard enough and don’t deserve one. It’s all in my head, too. That’s the complicated part. I know I work hard, I know I’m good at what I do, but it’s extremely difficult to own it. But they say if you can’t take care of yourself, how can you take care of anybody else?
So between Aya’s encouragement and me pumping myself up, I decided “I’m going to take a break, because I deserve it!”
But it was when I got to my seat on the plane and saw that I was sitting next to a mother and her two children (9 and 2 years old) one of which puked next to me did I question, “I deserve this?”
What a way to start a vacation. Nothing says vacation like a wiggly 2 year old throwing suckers at you, and a puking 9 year old. Luckily, I am filled with empathy and understanding so I didn’t let it bother me. I mean, it wasn’t that long ago that I was on a plane with my screaming child (she didn’t puke, but with her ear splitting screaming, I wanted to) who had strangers offering to pray for me. What could I do at 30,000 miles up in the air? I just offered the girl a stick of gum and continued to watch my movie. I did try not to breathe through my nose for the rest of the flight though. Puke stinks.
With the rough start out of the way, things could only get better from there, and they did.
I went to California to visit a friend from college and his family. He is a sound engineer and after I flew in, I got to spend the rest of the day at Paramount Pictures. You know, that place where they make movies and TV shows. No big deal. I even got to ride in a golf cart around the back lot, and it wasn’t part of an organized tour either! I was pretending I was waiting to record my ADR. You know, Additional Dialogue Recording. ADR, that’s what we call it in the biz. You can probably tell I quickly got into annoying tourist mode, but I loved every minute of it.
For the rest of the trip I got to reconnect with old friends from high school, college, and work, all while taking in the sights and eating really well. It was when I got a call from Aya that I remembered, “oh yeah, I have a family, I wonder how they are doing?”
Aya said, “If your goal was for the kids to miss you, it’s working,” and handed the phone to a whimpering Ellie. “Daddy, (sniff sniff) we (sniff) misssss yooouuuu (waaah).”
I don’t get to step away from the house or my role as caregiver very much. To be able to acknowledge that I was an individual before kids, had my own life, friends, likes and dislikes. It’s rare that my kids see me as anything other than their dad who cooks and organizes their life. So as heartbreaking as it was to hear her sobbing through the phone, I couldn’t help but feel validated and gratified.
I needed them to miss me. And I needed to miss them. I needed a pause from the monotony of our everyday life. I needed to take a step back to gain some perspective. To appreciate the life I have and to energize me to be the best that I can be not only for my family, but for myself too.
This trip did just that. I felt excited in a way that I haven’t felt in a long time. I had never been to California before so I experienced many new things. First time on a California beach, first time eating Korean BBQ, first time eating In-N-Out burger, first time using Lyft, first time having a huckleberry donut, and the first time I had a quiet mind all to myself in quite a while.
It was a great trip. I didn’t get “discovered” at Paramount Pictures, but I also didn’t get eaten by a shark while at the beach either, so I think it all balanced out. Balance. Yeah, that’s a good word. I definitely came home feeling more balanced, and lighter. I was really excited to come home and see my family and tell them all about it. Being greeted with homemade cards and tons of hugs and kisses wasn’t bad either.
It’s okay for me to take time for myself. It’s okay for me to put my needs first. I don’t owe anybody explanations on why or what I did to earn or deserve this. That’s the whole point. And that’s the biggest validation that came from this trip. And it had to come from me.