Every year, my college best friends and I get together for a girls' weekend. We kiss our kids and husbands goodbye, some of us leave written schedules and directions, and spend at least one night together away in a hotel, usually in New York City. New York City is the most convenient location for the four of us moms who all have young kids and are spread out among the East Coast. One night is usually more realistic for all parties involved because you know--husbands--motherhood--kids--life. I look forward to this weekend every year. As it approaches, I start counting the minutes. The excitement builds. The number of group texts increases. What are we wearing? How many Soul Cycle classes are we taking? Who is booking the spa treatments? Where are we going for dinner? Definitely somewhere we can dress up in the clothes we own but never have any place to wear them to.
I can't wait for the reminiscing, the laughter, the catching up, the deep conversations, the getting ready all together in the same room like it was during college, and the staying up late and sleeping in (if you count 8:30 am as sleeping in). While we're on the subject of sleeping, I can't wait to not have to wake up to anyone asking me for anything. To not have to fight with anyone about what's for lunch. To not have to enter into any negotiations or diffuse any meltdowns. To not have to share my ice cream! And to enjoy a glass of wine without interruption! Go to the bathroom alone! And most importantly, to not feel guilty about any of it!
This year the four of us somehow managed to pull off a full weekend in Boston, the city where we all met back in 1999! We coordinated schedules with our husbands', prayed none of our kids got sick, travelled from three different cities, and got ourselves there in time for the 7pm showing of Fifty Shades Darker to kick off the weekend...because who else would you want to watch a soft-core porn love story with? We crowded into our hotel room with two beds and two cots and ordered too much room service. We sweat it out at Soul Cycle, visited Tufts University and the sorority house that brought us all together. We hired a glam squad to do our hair and makeup before Saturday night dinner, dressed up for dinner in the stuff moms never get to wear, and had grand visions of drinking too much and staying out too late before brunching and saying our goodbyes on Sunday morning.
And then what really happened is this: while drinking our two drinks each at dinner, we realized we spent more time getting ready for dinner than we actually spent at dinner, which culminated in us heading back to our hotel, changing into pajamas, and having ice cream delivered so we could eat it in bed, and keep laughing and telling the stories we could remember from "the good old days." Of course it was magical!
There are a few reasons why I think we were finally able to pull off a true weekend away together. Our kids are getting older and therefore, easier. Our husbands are all hands on and wonderful, but that probably makes them more willing and excited about 48 hours alone with the kids. The kids don't need as much. They are more self-sufficient. They have activities, birthday parties, and weekend schedules that keep them busy and tire them out for bedtime. Also, perhaps each of us feel less guilty leaving our babies for a longer period of time because they aren't really babies anymore. Finally, we are all exhausted, need a break, and crave some care-free girl time that lasts longer than a few hours and reminds us of who are in addition to "being mommy."
I stopped feeling guilty about leaving my husband and son for a weekend away a long time ago. Maybe it was going through postpartum depression, but I learned the importance of self-care and taking time for myself very early on. For me, taking time away with the girls and without guilt, like I did this past weekend allows me to recharge and just be me. I'm not responsible for anything or anyone except my own relaxation. Maybe some parents would label this behavior as selfish, but I would argue the opposite.
Every mom needs to get away once in a while with their girlfriends. Time to relax. Time to catch up on sleep. Time to pee alone. Time to play. Time to laugh. Time to dress up and go out to a meal where you can actually eat your food. Time to commiserate about the stresses of motherhood. Time to forget about the stresses of motherhood. There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking this time for yourself. You need it. You should never have to apologize for it. It's important for your kids to see you caring for yourself and making your happiness and sanity a priority. Wanting to escape for a little while doesn't make you a bad mom.
I can't even begin to describe how this past weekend made me feel. It wasn't guilt about leaving my family. It was happiness and gratitude to be able to spend time with some of the people who know me best. They knew I was going to do something before I did it. They joked about the "not-so fitted" clothing I always pack. They made fun of the things I still do that I did almost twenty years ago when we went to school together. They reminded me that while some things change, some things never do and there is something so comforting about that. That when being a mom, wife, sister, daughter, and all the other roles I'm responsible for feel like too much, I'm still also that girl from years ago who just likes to have dance parties and drink wine with her girlfriends, tell stories, be silly, and laugh.
I've had these friends for almost twenty years. We lived together. We've been with each other through some tough shit. We knew each other before motherhood. They stuck with me through postpartum depression. They know my insides and love me anyway. They are never afraid to tell me the truth. They are strong women and amazing mothers and my best friends. And we need our best friends. They are our lifelines in a different way than our partners, which is why sometimes we need a friendly reminder that it's more than okay to tell them they will be in charge of the kids for a few days while you go recharge and have fun with the girls.