Exactly one week ago, I was sitting on a large rock in the Mediterranean, feeling the wind whip my hair into a humid frenzy and the hot sun blast my face, more than a bit concerned that two older French gentlemen were waving and wading my way. 24 hours later, I found myself on a sofa in flooding, rainy, dreary Dublin holding a puke bowl for the wee lad who hadn't kept down a single thing for over two days.
These are the polar opposites of motherhood, which, for me go hand in hand. The long years of all-consuming love and insanity leading one to pursue a women's retreat as if you'll absolutely die on the spot if you have to make another ham sandwich. And the womb-based yearning to get home as fast as possible when the husband reluctantly texts of vomit-tastrophes and skinned knees in the school yard.
It wasn't so long ago (like three months ago, if I'm honest) when I thought moms like me didn't deserve breaks like this.
A retreat, I asked Matt. A retreat from what?!
After all, I punch no time cards, earn no income, and the one who does the literal AND metaphorical heavy lifting would bear all the parental weight for a few motherless days. It seemed overly luxurious, a bit too feminine (I had nightmarish visions of flower arranging and hand-holding), maybe not the best time, and definitely not in the budget.
If Matt hadn't lovingly pushed me out the door or if I hadn't a friend to come with or if the boy had gotten sick a week earlier, I would not have gone. Yet in the end, I (uncharacteristically) submitted and finagled my way into Spain.
I have to tell you: I don't regret it one bit. The organization we work for offers a few retreats like this, particularly for women (singles, mums, wives), to shore themselves up spiritually and relationally so they can go back to their homes, families and ministries rested and healthy. We worshipped together, journaled in solitude, walked the stony beach, fell asleep to the sound of waves, drank a fair share of wine and laughed like crazy people.
And we dealt with some internal junk, hearing one another's stories and making one-small-step action plans for when we returned home. I met with a member care counselor, wondering what I could come up with to talk about, and then All The Words just came out of me.
And ok, we made some jewelry, too. You'd be amazed at how good it feels to do something with your hands after a few days of soul-sifting.
Did I mention the king prawn (shrimp) with whiskers and eyes? No?
So after the near run-in with the Frenchmen, after an Italian lunch under a winter Catalonian sun (for shame!), after all the goodbyes and the keep-in-touches, we parted ways and I returned to the place I belong. And even though I've experienced some re-entry shock (vomit and laundry and a return to my ham-sandwich-making ways), I have come back to them healthier, feeling more awake and alive than I have in months -- apparently, a few good nights' sleep in a row will do that to you!
I feel shored up, in more ways than one, well aware that I may not have another opportunity to drop everything and JUST GO, just this once.