I am writing this on the train as I return home from a weekend away with girlfriends. Nine of us left our children and partners for two nights and took a train ride to another town. There, we shopped, exercised, ate, drank, slept and didn't sleep, laughed and talked about lighter and weightier things than we usually have time for.
There is a shared knowledge that we are mothers but the experience is different for each of us because we are at different stages of parenting. One of us has two teenagers and an elder daughter who just got engaged to be married. Another has three children under 5 years old. Some of us work part time, some not at all outside the home (inside the home the workload is more than ample!). There are those with only sons, those with only daughters and a few with a mixture.
Even the mix of cultures is varied. Some have partners from the same culture while others are bi-cultural families living within a third culture. For this group, these things bring us together rather than segregate us.
Additionally, it is very rare for any of us to leave our families behind and run away for a weekend. For some, it was the first time ever. For others it has happened a few times but those times can be counted on one hand.
A weekend away to reconnect to Self – outside the role of partner/wife and mother is a trip to another time. I heard the words 'before kids' frequently. “that was in another life” was met with nods of recognition. We know that our Self has been in there somewhere - under the roles we play in our day-to-day lives. Perhaps some of us have, at times, almost lost hope of ever seeing our Self again.
At first, we need practice to reconnect. We try-on that old Self and see if we recognise it in the mirror. We realise how much we have changed … and how little we have changed. We acknowledge the rich stories around us and are liberated by the differences and the similarities, the whispers and shouts of 'me too'. We let our vulnerabilities show more and more as the weekend goes on and we get tired of holding up the curtain to avoid being seen in our discomfort with ourselves without the protection of our roles.
We get glimpses of the life we know we must return to at the end of the weekend. Most of us are ready to 'go home' as we call it. We are ready to once again resume our lives as we know them.
Yet we do so a little differently. A little changed for the chance to have stepped outside the box a moment and see what it all looks like from the outside.
The re-entry is not always easy. It requires letting go … again. We had to let go to come here, we have to let go to return. None of it happens without a change, however imperceptible to the naked eye. Things are different for having let go, for the perspective created by a different view. A glimpse of ourselves, as we were, as we are … when no longer wrapped exclusively in the role of Mother and partner.
When did you last visit your Self?