I’m away for the weekend and it’s something I decided on the spurt of the moment. Remember when I wrote about how important it is for me to have my alone time, even for just a few minutes everyday? Sometimes, a few minutes isn’t enough. I hit a snag somewhere, I was on a constant state of lethargy, I couldn’t write and couldn’t think straight… I was just drifting through the days and nights. I don’t know if you can understand it but the best way I can describe the feeling is getting trapped inside my head.
The truth is, I haven’t gone on a vacation without my family for almost 18 years. Ever since Speedy and I got married, and we had Sam less than a year after that and Alex less than a year and a half later, I’ve never gone anywhere without them. I never went on vacation without them. I travelled everywhere with the girls. The only trips I took were family trips. Except for work. The out-of-town and out-of-the-country trips I ever took without them in almost 18 years were work related so they don’t really count as leisure. It’s different with Speedy who has had his share of company-paid leisure trips in and out of the country. But me? Nada. Even Speedy and I? We’re never gone anywhere by ourselves in all these years. Unless you count the times we saw movies after office in those years when we were both still working.
It’s not that I resent having to be with them every time I go on vacation. I love travelling with Speedy and the girls. All the trips we took had been fun. At least, for the most part. I can’t remember one where we didn’t have a good time. Well, okay, the Bicol trip was something of a disaster but we still managed to have a good time. And even that time we drove home from Baguio and got stranded for six hours in flashfloods in Tarlac, we managed not to lose our sense of humor.
But family trips and vacations are a series of decisions to make sure that everyone else is comfortable and having a good time. Where you stay, where you eat, where you go, what you do… everyone has to have his say in all these things. And, sometimes, there’s that feeling that you just want to burst out and do something that does not require you to consider anyone else but you.
Two months ago, when a friend asked if I wanted to join them on a Southeast Asian cruise, I never hesitated. I said yes. It’s not cheap but, hell, I’ve worked so hard for so long. I deserve it. I’ve earned it. The girls aren’t babies nor toddlers anymore. And it’s only for nine days. So, I’ll be away for nine days in November. I thought I could wait until then to have all that time of not having to think about anyone else but me. But I couldn’t. I need a break. Now. I’ll admit that something triggered the decision but I’m not going to feel guilty about wanting to be on my own for a weekend. It’s either I have MY weekend or I might make some horrible judgment calls that we’ll all be sorry for later.
Still, you know, there’s that nagging feeling that not everyone’s happy that I’m having my weekend off. Not that anyone’s really said anything. At least, not in so many words. Just a text message here and there. And I started wondering if what I’m doing is, in fact, not not an act of selfishness. But it’s something that should NOT even enter my head. The rational side of me knows it isn’t true. I’m not being selfish — I’m just being nice to myself and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
But the irrational side of me makes me feel uncomfortable. And I need to articulate exactly why. Because that’s how I resolve issues. Because that’s how I think things through. I write.
See, I’m now wondering whether I grew up with the subconscious thought that being nice to myself is being selfish. I was raised a Catholic. I’ve gone agnostic as an adult but things you grow up with are not that easy to shake off. In a culture where sacrifice and martyrdom are considered the most noble of values, I wonder if I wasn’t raised to believe — although probably in ways that were never directly said — that a mother who does nice things for herself is a selfish mother.
I think of all the comments I’ve ever heard about “good” mothers. From friends. From relatives. In literature. In pop entertainment. And it just seems to me that what is referred to as the ideal mother — ang ulirang ina — is a stereotype of a woman whose every act is a sacrifice. No, sacrifice is not ever accurate. It’s a stereotype of a woman whose every act is a voluntary infliction of suffering on herself, a deprivation, in order to do a good deed for her family. Why?
WHY? Why this sense of masochism? Shades of our Catholic culture that tells us that because we’re made in God’s image, we should all lead a life of sacrifice the way Jesus did? That we should exult with the suffering? Glory in the pain?
Well, not me. NOT ME. I’m away for the weekend, I’ve resolved the issue inside my head and I’m going to enjoy the rest of my alone time.