This past weekend was jam-packed for me…and I loved every minute of it.
You see, it was a different type of “full” for me. I didn’t take Kayla, my 6 year old, to swim lessons (yep, she missed a class and she will still be a great swimmer!) I didn’t take Kayla to dance or a play group or a birthday party.
Nope, I had a one day retreat at my church’s women’s conference…and it was glorious and wonderful and I feel much better because of it.
If you’re like me, you sometimes feel guilty when you have to be away from home for any amount of time. But, I know how much I enjoy this retreat—and last year I couldn’t go because my daughter’s school had a spring production (and I sacrificed to be able to support and attend…a decision I gladly and willingly made as she and her class strutted to the Chicken Dance and we captured the cutest pictures and videos…ask me, I’ll show you! :-).
But this year, my weekend was clear and I blocked it off as soon as I realized I could attend the conference. Kayla was at home with her daddy from Friday around 5 p.m. until Saturday at 5 p.m. (I didn’t arrange for a sitter; I let daddy and daughter take care of themselves). They ate cereal together; they watched Disney Jr. together. Somehow, my husband even got her to take a nap (really?…she hasn’t taken a nap with me since she was 3). They both were fine. They both had quality time with each other…without me.
And as for me, just prior to the conference, I had lunch with my mentor, friend and editor—a time to just sit and talk. She recently lost her mother so it was good to just be with her during this time. Then I went to the lovely Renaissance hotel—a place I say I’m going to get back to just to sit in the hotel lobby (it smells like orchids!) And though the Friday afternoon Chicago traffic was a mess and the rain began to fall, I pressed my way there because I was meeting my best friend. We were going to have close to 24 hours together along with 800 other women—some I have seen in passing for the 21 years I’ve attended my church—and others I didn’t know but who had beautiful spirits and all wanted a retreat too.
So, my best friend and I ate dinner together—unrushed, not focused on getting back to work or to the kids or husbands or anything. I got to ask her about her aunts and cousins and others I didn’t get to inquire about during our drive-by conversations. I got to worship late Friday night (and even ducked out early because my best friend and I are morning people and we just couldn’t stay awake…we had no guilt). We went to bed immediately—no slumber party for us, but we woke up and chatted around 5. We chatted at 5 a.m. Bliss.
Then I got to go to Zumba (I was late, but I didn’t care) and dance and take care of my physical body. I returned to the room, chatted more with my girlfriend and then had breakfast with a church member I see in passing (but had had breakfast with her two years ago at the conference). I met a few new women too and we sauntered off to two sessions of workshops.
I got to sit and talk about raising children in 2016 from a Christian perspective—we may not discipline our kids from the old school model anymore (much more on that later), but we do need boundaries. We chatted and communed and I enjoyed listening to the perspective of a former minister from my church who is now retired!
Then I was treated to a session led by another woman I consider a mentor—a woman I got to share with my mother at this conference many years ago. I’ve written about her liberating message and gotten to communicate with her via email and chats (see Chapter 10 of Successful Moms of the Bible for her take on the Proverbs 31 woman). She, of course, was on point…and I got to share her with my best friend, who I know needed to hear some of the things she was teaching about. I got to reflect on the models I had learned about in my Black History and Literature classes in college. I got to reflect on what it meant to be a woman. I got to just be….and I enjoyed every glorious moment of it.
The conference had so many other wonderful components too. I did lunch with some new women and heard a great testimony of a woman entrepreneur…and I sat next to another good friend and I got to introduce her to my bestie. They knew of each other, but I don’t think they had ever spoken or talked. Just for a minute, two of my dearest friends—two women who know my journey and some really personal stuff about me—got to be in the same space. Awww, bliss.
I made my way home to my family. I missed them during that 24-hour period. They missed me too. But I returned renewed and revived. I was more patient with Kayla. We ventured out to the store and had a few good laughs. When she went to bed, I needed a “nap” because I was exhausted…but I managed to wake up and enjoy a few great quality hours with Derrick. I listened. We talked and laughed. It was great.
I returned home a new woman—ready to continue to serve as mom, wife, finder of all things lost!
We need time away, moms and caretakers!
What keeps you from getting time away?