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Sunday, February 27, 2005

A vacation from parenting

In the Newsweek issue that featured Oscar Confidential on the cover, there were interviews with a handful of actors that are up for Academy Awards. In that piece Kate Winslet (at least I think it was Winslet) said, "When you're a parent, going to work is like being on vacation."

I think that is a really interesting comment. As a writer, when I flex my fingers on the keyboard, it's like being on vacation from my regular job as a parent too. Writing is my escape, just as acting is Winslet's escape. It's not a bad thing to enjoy it, or look forward to it, and it doesn't make us bad or uncaring parents. Who doesn't like a vacation, even if it's just a mini, 20-minute vacation every now and again? Winset added that in her vacation "someone does your hair and makeup."

As a writer no one does my hair or makeup, not even me on most days. And perhaps a manicure would be a more appropriate way to pamper or prepare someone for a day in the life of this finger-frenzied profession.

Her comment just got me thinking about what things are treats when we are parents. There's no doubt that watching your child marvel at the world is a treat. But for parents, those moments of pure parental bliss are typically peppered between tantrums, and poopy diapers, and food wars. It sure isn't bliss all of the time. So needing an escape seems like a normal and healthy desire. And I guess that brings me full circle to why I'm here in the first place. Working and contributing feels good.

It's a healthy and constructive way to stay sane as an individual. When we have babies, that line between individual and extension of tiny new creature becomes blurred, especially if we're nursing.

When I think back to when I was working full-time, a vacation was a vacation from work. Sleeping in late, long walks at the beach with the dogs, dessert with every meal. That was a vacation. But now that I'm home, working is a little treat. It's a little glimpse into my former life. And I'm hanging on with all my might.

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