Allowing myself to just be deserves accolades, not guilt

I am always telling myself to not be one of those bloggers who gives a play by play of his or her day. I prefer to blog about fun things or things from which I derive meaning and I hardly think that anyone gives a rat’s ass about what I did and when so fair warning:


I woke up even earlier that I do when I feigning to be morning exercise person to get my daughter to a 6:30am arrival for a field hockey tournament 70 miles away. 4am is brutal for mom, for the tween player who now routinely sleeps until 10 or 11am on weekends, and for the sad sap of an 8 year old brother who needs to tag along since dad is away on a much needed and well deserved guys’ weekend. Of course I am chronically fatigued and it’s nice now that the kids are older that I can use the weekends to catch up on sleep. So to have this privilege stolen from me for a sporting event deeply hurt me but parenting wins so there I was driving 1 hour and 20 minutes each way. The kids both slept in the car both ways. I jacked myself up with caffeine hoping not to become a statistic we trauma surgeons like to study on driving and fatigue.

When we got finally got home at midday I was exhausted. Despite the caffeine coursing through my veins I could not keep my eyes open so I stumbled into a sleep on our ever so cozy sectional. But it was a broken sleep. I refused to simply go up to the bedroom and just give in completely to the tiredness. Nope, I kept hoping that I would soon rise and have a productive day. You see, after several years of working on work-life integration, I am still having a hard time with simply relaxing. I am so trained to think of it as lazy and unproductive that when I do nothing in particular (or choose to sleep rather than doing) I feel an enormous sense of guilt and failure.

In between my fits and spurts of sleep I was thinking:

The house is a mess. (I should be tidying up!)

There are multiple loads of laundry to be done. (I should be washing and folding!)

The kids are somewhere in this house fighting boredom. (I should be playing with them!)

The work to-do list is out of control. (I should be tackling whatever I can remotely!)

There are thank you cards to write. (I should be putting pen to Crane’s paper!)

The Kindle is filled with newly downloaded e-books. (I should be reading!)

My ass is getting fatter as I lay here and the sun is shining. (I should go out for a run!)

I woke up at dusk. I felt like kicking myself for these myriad failed opportunities to get stuff done, to be a better wife (who helps around the house every so often), to be a more engaged mother, to utilize any one of the 7 habits of highly effective people, to take care of myself.

Argh! The self-loathing was quick and sharp.

Later on, once the kids had made sure I ate and stayed hydrated (their dad has trained them well) and had headed to bed (after showering and reading to themselves)* I took the dog for a nice long walk feeling the need to pad the mere 1k steps I had accumulated up to that point since my daily target is 10k. It was a serene and beautiful night. There were no cars zipping by. No sound of Lifeflight that is frequently overhead. No other dog walkers even. Most lights in the neighborhood were off on the eve of returning to school after winter break.

As I was retelling myself all the failures of my day and tryinng to forgive myself, the peace and calm of the night got to me. It occurred to me that I surely deserved some peace and calm with all that I do day in and day out, at home and at work (okay, fine mostly at work!). It turns out that a perfectly calm and peaceful night was a fitting ending to a day of rest that I unintentionally engineered for myself despite all of my intentions (including with this blog) to take better care of myself. I deserved accolades and not self-flagellation. And so I tacked on 4k steps dropping a little more guilt with each stride, congratulating myself on a job well done, not for being lazy but for successfully allowing myself to just be. 

Today, I can see that it helped recharge me for the household chores, unending work obligations, needy family, and self-care that are still there today waiting for type A, get-the-job-done, me.

[*NB: It gets better as they age, I promise. I miss the cooing and burps and smiles of my babies but I sure do appreciate their self-sufficiency on these lazy, ummmmm restful, days.]


5 thoughts on “Allowing myself to just be deserves accolades, not guilt

  1. Just a suggestion: here is how my parents got rid of child boredom: 1) homework & 2) house chores. Sorry, but at the age of your daughter/son, we could wash dishes, put up dishes, clean the floor, pick up toys, dust and separate clothes (and at your sons’ age, wash). My cousin was given a weed wacker at your sons’ age. He went out earning some $$$. Busy hands will not have time to bicker & they learn family duties and responsibilities to helping parents. 😉 🙂

    Just an aside, I realize that surgeons in general have an obesity problem from the last stats I saw on obesity & specialties. Can you get more salads? Its not like you aren’t on your feet moving all day?

    Can your husband write the thank you cards and then you sign?

    • Vic, for the sake of keeping it short I did not mention that the kids did clean up the kitchen area and made their own meals yesterday. They have been taught to do their own laundry and clean the home even though we have some help with that–we want them to learn to be self-sufficient and have a neat place to live. I have not outsourced my delicates to them, however; and sometimes it’s just nice to feel like I actually get household stuff done. It was Sunday–their homework was done on Friday afternoon 9if they had any) and they spent the day playing with each other (board games/legos) and reading in addition to watching a movie. They cook including stove top and oven (not just microwave) and have gotten much more use out of our kitchen appliances and sewing machine than my husband and I (some in use after more than a decade hibernating!) This post was more about me, really, allowing myself to not be doing and not

      Regarding the weight problems of surgeons, I will admit I am not up to date on that data but anecdotally we are all over the map. I have some surgeon friends who are as fit as professional athletes and others who are morbidly obese. I am somewhere in the middle and trying my best. I eat a salad every day at work. Gave up sandwiches after going paleo in 2011. My husband is always cooking healthy meals for us and recently got us onto the purple carrot.

      Note: My inner monologue as shared in this post often does not match the reality of my life.

      Thanks as always for the readership and the feedback.


      • That is good to hear. I think that women nowadays need to be realistic. I wouldn’t see a trauma surgeon with small children doing much of anything around the house. You feeling guilty is part of the Type A personality. Why put more stress on yourself?

        I will say this, all of us kids had to learn to do our parents’ “unmentionables”. I’ll say it out loud, no I didn’t care for touching some of them. No disrespect intended. However, I learned a bit better about how to handle myself in delicate situations, shall we say? Sometimes a lesson learned well when young.


        Btw, we did have extra assignments. I’m not talking about just homework from school. Getting kids to learn other things can be useful. I did history, Russian biographies, jewelry, DIY, sports, practical things that would help in and out side the house. There is more stuff to life than just what you get in school. There is a lot they can learn about other cultures, languages, all sorts of things, that can broaden their outlook and teach them new skills.

        I do NOT mean TV. We were very limited in the TV we watched and it was mostly together too.

        I’m sure there are life skills you can teach to your kids that you learn every day. Maybe not how to cut out an appendix, but how you dealt with stress, how you talk to people, interacting with coworkers, paperwork, all these things have practical skills that schools & employers like.

  2. I always enjoy your posts. I too, like you, try not to just blog about “the day” but rather about events or projects or “big picture concepts”. I also struggle, like you, to let myself just relax and be. My dogs are my best friends in that — almost every day I walk them and that rebalances my brain from my busy life as an Operating Room Ortho Trauma Resource Nurse. I’m very Type A and a bit OCD so I always feel that my house has to be so perfect and probably spent way too much time when my kids were little picking up. Interestingly enough neither of our children have the clean gene and their houses almost drive me crazy when I am there. There really is no such thing as balance in life; perhaps we just need to strive for some moderation.
    Now we both just need to give ourselves a break!

  3. Pingback: Running on Empty…. – equipoise life

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