Before babies, women typically invest much more time into their friendships so that they flourish wildly. It's easy to go out to dinner on a whim or grab a cup of coffee. And while we value these relationships even more after the children come along, we simply can't put the same kind of time and energy into them. Balancing the kids, job, house, and spouse becomes paramount. The girls' trips, fun nights out, and even casual dinners become sparse - just like the sleep we get.
When mums do go away for the first time, that night can be rough. We check our phones every five minutes. We rapidly text, "Did she take the bottle?," "Did she poo yet?," and "How long did she nap?" to our partner or babysitter. The stress in our necks doesn't leave us while we're away. We're anxious that our little bundle misses us, and the guilt sits heavy in our guts like a boulder. But despite all this, it's important - no, vital - to make time for friends. They feed our souls and bring a richness to our lives that nobody else can.
Planning a girls' trip with a group full of busy mothers is like solving the Rubik's Cube: it's daunting, but possible. You can even take it upon yourself to be the planner of the group. Make it happen. It'll be worth it. I know it was for me.
Last year, a group of friends and I finally did it - we planned an entire weekend away. To organise, it took way too many "dings" in our group text, but we found a way to schedule a wine weekend. As the leaves turned orange, burgundy, and yellow, we crammed into a minivan and drove north. We rented a secluded cottage away from it all - just like we wanted. The crisp air paired perfectly with the cracking of our microbrews the second our bags hit the hardwood floor.
With our slouchy sweaters, we huddled around the bonfire, drinking beer after beer. Although we were gone from the kids, we, of course, ended up talking about them anyway. From nappy blowouts to admittance of parenting failures, we shared it all. And it was more than that. We also dove into our heartaches: IVF, miscarriage, aging parents, lost jobs, and more. Yes, our spouses listen to us, but there is something about the ear of another mother who has been through it, too. Mothers are adhered together through pregnancy, birth, tantrums, and disappointments. That night our relationships sparked like the fire in the pit.
That next day, we woke up with our mascara smudged under our eyes in no condition to digest any more alcohol. But we pounded our coffee and Tylenol, redid our hair and makeup, and covered our stretch marks with flowy dresses, venting to each other the whole time. We climbed onto that bus ready for the wine tour. This day would be dedicated to acting as 20-somethings again. After each winery stop, the music got louder and our language became less mum-like. By the time the moon crept up, the night became foggy. One of us forgot our pumped bag of milk on the bus. It wasn't any good anyway after all the wine. But waking up with hangovers both mornings was worth it.
In the midst of all of the laughter, drinks, and shared sorrows, we forgot about our phones. We didn't need to text our spouses to make sure the kids were following the schedules we worked so hard to attain. We knew they were fine. And we were too caught up in each other. The value of our female camaraderie was refilled. As we returned to our families, we promised to plan our trip for next year. Because cultivating our female friendships in the form of a weekend gig is even more important now that we're mothers.