At the end of May, I flew to Nashville with my five closest friends for our annual girls’ getaway. We have been officially taking these trips for 7 years, since my oldest daughter was 4 months old. As we have gotten older, these trips have become more difficult to plan as we have had to schedule around weddings, babies, school, work, recitals, etc. But we have continued to make them a priority. It has never gotten easier to leave my daughters but I can honestly say that I cherish these weekends away and I don’t believe that I have ever needed one more than this particular trip.
Four weeks prior to this year’s annual girls’ getaway, I found out that I would be losing my job. Not just me, but the entire company that I had poured the last 10 years of my life into would be undergoing a full liquidation. I was devastated to see my career blowup in my face. And I was heartbroken to be forced to leave the job and the coworkers that had become such a huge part of my life. I was anxious about what this meant for my future and what I would do next.
It also made me seriously question whether I should be going away for a long weekend amidst all of this unknown. (Enter: Mom Guilt)
After all, added to my normal routine of mothering my three girls, cooking, cleaning and trying to stay on top of laundry, I would also be updating my resume, searching for a new job and doing interviews.
Was I being selfish for taking time for me? Could I really justify spending money and time away from my daughters and husband? Shouldn’t I use this weekend to be looking for a new job? How could I have a good time when I felt so awful?
In the end, with some major encouragement from my amazing and supportive husband, I decided that the best thing that I could do was to go on my annual getaway. And instead of spending the weekend worrying about my future, I spent it relaxing with friends who have become like a second family to me. Women who knew me before I was married, before I was a mom, and who have watched me grow into my adult life. Women who I trust and respect.
We laughed. We cried. We reminisced. We spent most of our time talking too fast and too loudly and over one another. We acted like tourists. We got dressed up. We ate and drank our way through the weekend. We swapped stories and fears. We confided in one another.
And when the weekend was over, I honestly could not wait to fly home to my husband and daughters. I missed them so much. But I also felt refreshed, encouraged and ready to take on the change that was in front of me.
Moms, let’s stop basing our worth as mothers on who is the most busy, tired or stressed. Let’s stop judging each other on those things as well. Life is going to keep throwing obstacles and situations our way. I fully believe that the best way to prepare for the ups and downs of life is to practice self-care. To take the time for you. To love yourself. It is ok to put yourself first occasionally and you are still a great mom when you do.
It’s like the line that any flight attendant says before takeoff, “if you are traveling with a child, put your oxygen mask on first and then assist the other person”.
Let’s use that idea outside of the plane, throughout our life. Go on the trip. Plan the date night. Read the book. Get a massage. Grab coffee with a friend. Work out. Whatever it is that helps you de-stress. Our kids are going to be all right. They will understand. They will learn that mom is a real person and has real needs and real friendships too. She’s not just the family chef, cleaner, chauffeur. In the end, I believe that this will make us better, stronger moms. And on that note, I’m off to plan my next girls’ getaway!