A while back, my husband took our kids away for the weekend, and I was home alone. When anyone asked, "Are you enjoying your time alone?" I was physically incapable of saying simply, "Yes."
Why? It's certainly not because I wasn't enjoying myself. I love time alone!
It's because I learned, like many of us, that it was more important to be a human doing than a human being. And the frustrating fact is that, like many of us, I don't know how to have value as a person if I'm not always getting things done.
The father of my college boyfriend made a good amount of money. So much so that he was able to retire before he was 50. He bought a boat, and chillaxed on that boat, never having to work again. I thought that was lame. (I know, please don't judge me for judging people.) I thought, "What's his purpose now? What a bum." But now, many years later, I understand that being busy is not a virtue. I understand that lulling around on your boat for the rest of your life is a sign of what the French call "joie de vivre," not a sign of laziness.
(Disclaimer: I understand that being busy is not a virtue, but I have a hard time actually putting that understanding into practice.)
Of course, I'm not condoning apathy and leaving the civilized world so you can put hundred-dollar bills into your egg croissant and eat it for breakfast. Instead I'm encouraging the enjoyment of living.
I know some mothers who don't have careers. They spend their time raising the children and taking care of the house. This is a noble profession. But when I first met these various moms, and asked what they "do" or if they "work," they always seemed embarrassed and apologetic for not having careers. They'd say things like, "I was doing XYZ before the kids came, and now I'm looking to getting back into it." It's as though it wasn't okay to simply be a stay-at-home mom. And that by being a stay-at-home mom, it was like you weren't doing something, or at least something "worthwhile." And if a mom, working or stay-at-home, were to ever have a weekend at a spa, it would be normal for her to say something like, "I've never gotten to do anything like this before," as though she feels guilty for not deserving the time away.
Men, I feel, are much better at this. That is, they're better at saying, "I got to relax, and it was great." I rarely hear women say this, regardless of whether or not they actually did get to relax. When my husband took my kids for the weekend, other moms would say, "Is it so relaxing?" And I couldn't stop myself from responding, "Yes, but I'm working a lot." or "Yes, but I'm spending all day decluttering the kids' rooms." Why is it not okay for me to just relax and enjoy myself?
My value as a human being doesn't derive from my ability to work, work, work. My value comes from my ability to enjoy life. Because when I take the time to enjoy life, I fill my own spiritual gas tank... and my inspired human being makes whatever I need to be doing more fruitful and more fun.