Vacation Unplugged


I know I only started my job less than three months ago, but I’m already in dire need of a vacation.

Maybe it’s because I went “soft” over the past few years, becoming dependent on cruise control at easier gigs with less insane intense expectations. Lately I’ve been putting in longer hours than I have since before kids, and it’s the kind of work that requires a high degree of serious brain power mixed with the people skills of a veteran politician.

Let’s just say, “Leaning In” can really take its toll.

I’ve been exhausted (nothing new there) and, worse, desperately missing my family. There were days last week when I left the house just as they were waking up, rubbing their sleepy eyes as I grabbed my coffee traveler and ran out the door. And then I came home from work at 10 p.m. to see two my little sweeties slumped over on the couch, failing in their noble attempt to stay awake “till Mom gets home.” (Feeling in my heart: WORST. MOM. EVER.)

Not to mention — the house is a disaster, laundry is in that vicious straight-from-machine to worn wrinkly to dirty-again cycle, refrigerator contents are woeful, and the Hubs is just barely keeping it all together while I’m away. Bless his heart.

OK, so enough of my bitching. Back to VACATION.

Knowing how badly I needed this retreat from my intense work situation, I did everything I could to set things up so I could really, truly “unplug.” Delegated what had to get done, pushed off the rest, turned on my “out of office” email message (though I’m not quite bold enough to declare “Email Bankruptcy,” tempting as it sounds.)

Once we got on the road, I realized I also had to turn off my work emails that buzzed on my iPhone every 2 minutes. Because even the loveliest vacation experiences can be soured by a few messages (and my own runaway thoughts and fears) about things gone wrong at the office.


So we’re about halfway through this blissful week away from it all, cozied up as a family (even the dog is here!) in a cabin nestled deep in the woods and farmland of northwest Indiana/southwest Michigan.

I’ve been going to bed early, sleeping late (or as late as my kids will let me) and napping with total abandon. Exhaustion: Gone. It’s amazing what sleep will do to restore your mind, body and spirit.

Time with the fam…

Oh, how glorious it is to sip coffee with the Hubs while sitting on the wide, covered front porch, overlooking ponds and fields, talking like … you know, like we used to. Before the madness of work and family overlapped. Enjoying leisurely, comfortable conversation that expands beyond “Did you take out the trash?” and “How did the kids eat tonight?”

I don’t believe my kids have ever hugged and kissed me so much, either. They each grab and hold my hands spontaneously (I die!) as we walk down the path from the cabin to a great pile of boulders just aching to be climbed.

I push them on the tree swing for as long as they want, watch them eat their favorite ice cream with great delight, and listen intently to their long, run-on sentences about what they’re wondering about or a ghost story they just made up or what they’d like to do tomorrow. I give them 100% of my love and attention, and soak up every bit I get from them, too.


Part of me thinks, This is what I should be doing every day, every moment.

I can’t just wait for one or two weeks of vacation each year to be the best mom I can be–and at the same time, to relish the role of “mother” as much as I do my new job at an exciting, crazy, chaotic tech startup. But work matters to me, and I’ve made the conscious, willing choice to be a mom with a job outside the home.

Unplugging for this week gives me a chance to refresh myself and reconnect with the people who matter most to me in the world. I hope I can take the joy I’m overflowing with right now and use it as an incentive to be as efficient with my work time as possible — so I can squeeze in more moments of holding hands, pushing swings and getting hugs from my very favorite people at home.

6 thoughts on “Vacation Unplugged

  1. Sara Bennett Wealer says:

    Enjoy it, Susan. You’ve earned it!

  2. Pingback: Vacation With Kids

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