It was relatively easy to go on a 7-day cruise shortly when I still had that new car smell at my job. My workload, in retrospect, was pretty  (honeymoon period) light.  Preparations were made so that while I was gone, no projects needed my attention. I was off with my family, sunning in the tropics, rolling 14 deep, without a care–smart phones used only for taking pictures and keeping track of the days.

Fast-forward a few months and I am up to my hips in alligators. The major deadline for my industry looms around Turkeygeddon while I plot a few days off to entertain my parents who are visiting from out of town. The first two days of their visit, I spent running back and forth to my computer, checking emails and putting out small fires at work. I mellowed out and it became less and less. The final two days, I soaked up the time with my parents. I figured I had work whipped.

For the luxury of two days incommunicado, I was smacked in the face by emails of things unattended to or worse, poorly done. Yikes!

I realized that I can’t reeeeaaally go on vacation. Not really. Like a lot of folks, the nature of my job has that “hamster-on-a-wheel” feel. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do. But, what I do is what I do. It is not who I am.

I have been on the other side. I went from being an at-home mom to unemployed in a single thought. Translation: when sales started to slump at my husband’s job, the at-home position was eliminated and I was to actively pursue a new gig. Having been out of the market for a nice chunk of time (10 years!), it was exceedingly hard to find something–anything that would help pay the bills.

After much discussion and financial trauma, we packed up and headed to parts unknown to start a new life. And so we did. It’s been mostly very nice with a few challenges thrown in. Having a job is most appreciated. Having a gig I like is even better.

Even the most diligent of us long for moments of repose. I find myself fantasizing about being from Europe, where long lunches and napping are not luxuries, but essential. It is a place where the pleasure of being a human enjoying the family they created is never tinged with moments of guilt.

Work is honor here in America. We have lots and lots of honor and our families break rather than our backs.

What do you think? Can you ever really go on vacation?