When I was a new mom, I was knee-deep in post-partum depression, I was exclusively pumping and managing a severe rheumatoid arthritis flare. I took a long weekend and went away with some friends to California. I was riddled with self-inflicted mom guilt, but taking a break gave me space to process a particularly difficult few months, and I returned ready to take on the next season of life.
As my children have grown a little older, I’ve gained some perspective. I’ve discovered that time away actually makes me a better wife and mom. When you’re in the thick of it all, parenthood can be demanding and even suffocating. It’s something I personally felt a lot of shame over. With space and time, I’ve come to understand that it’s normal to feel disconnected and overwhelmed.
Last year, I was invited to a women’s weekend away with a group of ladies I didn’t know. The connections within this community of women ran deep. I received the invitation from a friend I’d met in an online mom’s group. We’d grown close, but I didn’t live in close proximity to her and we hadn’t spent a lot of time together. I didn’t grow up in Portland or go to college here so my list of local friends was short.
I drove up to Sequim, WA with a bit of trepidation that felt like going on a blind date with one friend and 5 women I didn’t know. To say I was nervous was an understatement. I’d spent my teens and early 20’s navigating tumultuous female relationships and my 30’s feeling lonely and self-conscious as a result.
I walked in the room in Sequim tentative but openminded and immediately felt a sense of connection and belonging. I was welcomed in a room of women who shared a long history, but who were also willing to be vulnerable and genuine with a newcomer. There were no walls, agendas, or judgements.
I didn’t know I needed this group of women or this time away until the opportunity presented itself. It felt like a lifeline.
The conversation wasn’t shallow or fabricated. It was deep, painful, honest. We were vulnerable and shared raw emotion. We bonded with stories of triumph and struggle. We filled the room with laughter, love and solidarity. I never knew I need my tribe until I experienced our weekend retreat.
Time away as a mom is important.
Time away with a group of honest, openly transparent women is imperative.
As middle-aged women, we have several decades of perspective and difficult life experiences we’ve all individually walked through. We have unexpected medical diagnoses, challenging relationships, and overwhelming emotions we’ve all navigated. When we parted ways, the honesty, support and connectedness we all felt was palpable. We immediately booked the same house and for our 2nd annual women’s weekend.
The theme this year: Girls compete. Women empower.
It’s vital and crucial to find your tribe. To feel connected. We’re all in this together, regardless of proximity or history. Connection is everything.