I no longer find Matchbox cars in my pockets during Girls’ Getaway Weekends. The last time that happened, my visit with my college soccer teammates was as important to me as the rare chance to sleep through the night without a toddler awaking me at 0-dark hundred to tell me, “I’m tired.” I spent much of that weekend simply unwinding while marveling at my new-found ability to remain seated for long stretches at a time without refilling sippy cups.
But my kids aren’t little anymore, and I generally get plenty of sleep these days. So this past weekend’s Girls’ Getaway with a group of writer friends had an entirely different feel to it, even if I did sleep in my friend’s daughter’s iCarly sheets (BFF!) and reminded myself at 2 a.m. that the creepy head in the bathroom belonged to Barbie. (We simply don’t have any Barbie Styling Heads here in the frat house for fourth graders.)
In previous Girls’ Getaways, it was about, well, getting away. It was the rare chance to turn off my internal mommy monitor and learn how to focus on just me rather than just my kids and the step one of them is about to fall off and the mysterious sticky stuff on the coffee table and the toy one of them needs from the bottom of the toy box and the stinky diaper that needs changing and the step one of my kids is about to fall UP this time and all that used to happen by, oh, 7:14 a.m. on an average morning.
Now that my kids are older and able to dress, feed, entertain and toilet themselves, I don’t need to get away so much as I need to “get to.” (Mostly. I am currently listening to a heated argument about the rules of the club my kids have created with their friends.) But with tweens in the house, my Girls’ Getaways aren’t about escaping, but about reclaiming.
While away with girlfriends this weekend, I realized that I’d managed to make it through the light-up sneaker and temper tantrum years without completely losing myself in the process (and the pee.) I’d picked up where I’d left off after I’d hauled my first jumbo package of diapers home from BJ’s Warehouse, only with a deeper sense of meaning for my life.
In other words, it went from being all about me to being all about them to being all about us. And it took a weekend away with girlfriends to recognize the difference. Also, sleeping under a poster of Hannah Montana.
At least that’s what I’ll tell myself while I listen to my 12-year-old sweep up a broken (“It’s not my fault!”) plate from the kitchen floor.