I have a colleague, Joanne Minaker, who is a visionary when it comes to women’s issues. Her philosophy is that we have to take care of ourselves before we can take care of others. And I know y’all are nodding and saying, yes, yes, we know that. But 21 years into motherhood, I can unequivocally say that this is absolutely true. And while we might nod, how many of us actually take action on self-care? We’ve got loads of excuses: no time, no money, too many other people to look after. But don’t forget: a happy mom is a happy family.
Joanne hosted a Be Bold with Care Retreat two weeks ago. One our Bird Associates Tara Hogue Harris, attended and wrote about her experience on our company blog here.
I could not go because I went to Los Angeles and New Orleans instead. I went to LA to see my long lost eldest son, who is living the life in Koreatown with his lovely girlfriend, while drumming and touring across America. It did his mama’s heart good to see him. I was happy to see the whites of his eyes, go for Korean hot pot for dinner, walk around central LA with him, and then drag my pink suitcase up to a Mexican burrito place to meet up the next morning. I saw where he lived, I saw he was in love, I saw he is happy. All is well.
Then I boarded another plane and met my husband in the airport in New Orleans for what I (half) jokingly called Our Marriage Saver. Every two years, we make very complex child care arrangements to go on adult trip together. (Yes, I realized how privileged we are to do this. It costs a lot of money). Since Aaron has been born, we’ve been to San Francisco (twice), Italy, New York and now New Orleans. These have all been very adult vacations. We eat hard, dance hard and go to bed really late and sleep in even later. We eat food that isn’t kid friendly, go on big hikes, take leisurely shopping expeditions (Sue), go to pubs (Mike) and sail through airports, unencumbered by children.
It is frankly awesome. Our cups get empty when we are neck deep into parenting. The geographical cure does work to refill it, even if that cure takes you as far as your local bookstore or bathtub.
After six days away, I have the luxury of having an overfilled cup to draw upon. My husband and I giggled together, and walked wide-eyed down Bourbon Street, drinks in hand and beads around our necks. We jumped up and down to 80’s music, hung out in local pubs, ate po’boys, gator gumbo, jambalaya, muffaletas, shrimp and grits and pralines and drank a substantial amount of Hurricanes (me) and Old Fashioneds (him). We went on a food tour, a bus tour and a swamp tour.
I’m still detoxing – drinking a lot of water and eating vegetables while I recover. Want to go on an adult trip and not into Vegas gambling? New Orleans is where it is at. As Joanne says, caring for ourselves isn’t just about going for a pedicure (although that can help), and care is really about human sustenance.
When I got back home, I was hit by a tornado of problems: crappy work emails in my inbox, scheduling medical appointments for Aaron, trying to find him private behavioural supports, being told the school speech pathologist won’t see him, and bearing witness to injustices in our educational system. This is frankly exhausting. Plus, it had snowed when we were gone. Winter has begun in earnest. And it’s going to be a long one.
So go ahead. I invite you to take a break from the grocery shopping, the laundry, the advocacy, the outrage, the therapies for your kids, the school phone calls, the early mornings. Treat yourself, even if it is for one afternoon. Disappear to a movie. Go for that pedicure. Browse in the bookstore. Have a long hot bath. You deserve it, my friends. And I believe that you are well worth it.
Ps: thanks to Corrie, Ella, Eisech and Helga who held down the fort back at home to make this happen for us. And to my parents, who generously provided childcare for our previous trips. xo