This was it. #MomsWeekend2017. We came from eight states and the District of Columbia. We got on planes. Alone. We carried handbags that contained no diapers, no wipes, no Cheerios (ok, well maybe some remnants down there in the bottom). We drank wine. Maybe read a magazine, watched a grown up movie. Not one person demanded we accompany them to the bathroom. We landed, one by one, in Austin, TX.
It all began with a post my friend Jordi and I put on our neighborhood listserv five years ago. It was a little hopeful. It was a little desperate. It was, if I’m being honest, a cry for help.
“Any soon-to-be new mommies out there? Want to get together? My friend and I are both due in a few months and we thought it might be nice to reach out and see who else is going through all the same things. You know, first trips to Buy Buy Baby, figuring out the best stroller for neighborhood sidewalks, learning how to swaddle, etc. We are thinking about heading over to SOVA this Sunday morning at 10:30am. Anybody want to join us?”
As Jordi and I met on the sidewalk that Sunday morning, we were nervous. Maybe no one would show up. Maybe people would show up and we wouldn’t like them. Maybe we would take one look at them and bail, like a bad blind date.
I think something like 30 women came to that first meeting. It was pretty hilarious to watch one pregnant woman after another stream through those doors. We took over the second floor. We were legion and we were large. 30 preggos take up a lot of space. We definitely scared some other patrons away that morning.
We talked about everything. Hormones and sleeping, nursery decor, baby showers. Diapers and doulas, drugs or no drugs. Hold up, no drugs?? I started to get nervous. One woman after another said they were going to have natural childbirth with no drugs. I gulped. I had a pretty short birth plan. Short and sweet. To the point. It said, “Drugs, please” in the middle of a giant white piece of paper. Actually, it said DRUGS PLEASE!, because I had strong feelings about this. In the words of my wise mother-in-law, “You don’t get a better baby for doing it that way. They give you the same baby. They don’t throw you a parade or anything.”
I looked over at Jordi on the other side of the room. Her eyes were big. She gulped too, then she raised her hand and said, “That’s cool you guys, but I’m pretty sure I want the drugs.” My hand shot up in solidarity, “Me too.” And it was fine. The record didn’t skip, 28 pairs of eyes didn’t whip around and silently judge us. Everyone was cool. We were in this together, but doing it our own way. I think we were on to something.
Our group ebbed and flowed, but over time it crystalized into a smaller group of regulars. We had more coffee dates, we talked, we listened, we found comfort in staring down the unknown together.
We had our babies. One by one we all became mothers. We survived. We are still surviving. We have a higher rate of survival due to each other. I mean, I cannot tell you how crucial it is to have a friend you can call at 11pm and ask what you’re supposed to do about mastitis. (Don’t know what that is yet? You will.) Mom tip: Find your tribe. Its a wild ride, you need people on that roller coaster with you. Or at least people who have ridden it that will be honest.
Here’s where I quote the 1994 movie Speed to you. The part where Keanu Reeves tells Sandra Bullock, “I have to warn you, I’ve heard relationships based on intense experiences never work.” And here’s the part where I tell you that he’s wrong. Five years later, we are still friends. Fifty years from now, we are still going to be friends. (If we are alive! Having kids seriously accelerates the aging process in a way no one warned me about.) Having children is the hardest, funniest, most frustratingly wonderful thing you will do.
And thus comes the part where you need to get away. Kiss your precious lovies on the head and tell them Mama will be back Monday. (Or just sneak out the back door when they are not looking like I did. Don’t judge-my younger son has serious separation anxiety). This is #MomsWeekend2017.
Over the past few years many of us left DC and scattered all over the country. We were overdue for a reunion. It’s pretty amazing that we got 13 women (with 23 children between us) to leave their families for a long weekend. What this goes to show you is that Mamas need a break. Mom Tip: Take time for you. The easiest thing is to put yourself last when you have (a) tiny beast(s) with very immediate needs. But you can’t pour from an empty cup, so remember to look out for yourself. You deserve it.
I was pretty stoked for a weekend with no one calling (or crying), “Mama, mama, mama,” to me for three days. It is amazing to be loved and needed. It totally is. It is also so mentally and physically exhausting. Some mornings when both kids are clamoring for breakfast and the dogs are dancing around my feet wanting to be fed, I become almost paralyzed by the sheer need everyone has of me. They need food, they need comfort, they need drinks, and napkins, and help putting on shoes. (I need coffee. But no one asked me what I want, so that is why I will drink cold coffee 28 minutes later). I was also pretty stoked about a weekend where I didn’t have to wash a single sippy cup. I mean, am I alone here? I feel like 85% of my day is spent washing sippy cups.
This was not a girls gone wild adventure. Don’t get me wrong, we hit the bars and drank some margaritas and did some dancing. But as most of our history together has been, it was a lot of talking and listening. (And wine. Definitely wine). We might have left our babies behind but we did a lot of talking about those littles. Moments of pride, stories of frustration, feelings of guilt.
Of our group, I was the last to to leave D.C., relocating to Houston about 7 months ago. I’m still working on finding a support system here. After four days surrounded by these amazing women, goodbyes were tough for me. I got in my car and pulled on the highway for my 3 hour drive home. In a bit of a real-life movie moment Peter Gabriel’s “Don’t Give Up” came on the radio as I blinked away tears.
Don’t give up
’cause you have friends
Don’t give up
You’re not beaten yet
Don’t give up
I know you can make it good
I will make it good – I’ll find a new tribe here. But this group can’t be replaced. And we will see each other next year at #MomsWeekend2018. We deserve it.