Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Moms Gone Wild

"By and large, mothers and housewives are the only workers who do not have regular time off. They are the great vacation-less class."
Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Yes, I am a mother, to four fine children. For over 26 years now, my maternal instincts have been in overdrive and there is no foreseeable finality to that. It never gets old, this motherhood gig, but it does - on occasion - make me weary. And that is when the mom becomes the woman becomes the girl. And she goes wild.

Every year for the last decade, my college roommates and I get together for a long weekend. We have convened in such locales as Martha's Vineyard, Jackson Hole, Chicago, New York City and Las Vegas (twice). We doff our mommy hats and become 20-something college kids, sans work, husband, offspring (okay, we do check in a few times; we're not completely irresponsible!). Still. For four days we do what we want, when we want. Nobody whines "Mom!" or "Honey!" We smile at the handsome men we pass, and in Vegas we squeal at nearly-naked men at Chippendales-type clubs. We stay up way past midnight, giggling and weeping and philosophizing. We do not change diapers, or wake up early for bottles, school buses, or cranky, sleepy teenagers. We rock and we roll in the symbiotic rhythm forged long ago as girls on our college campus in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.

The magic and memories that are created during these annual escapes help us to rejoin the sorority of motherhood with renewal and a reaffirmation that we are, in fact, women first.

"Mrs. Evans." "(Blake, Kenny, Jack, Jessie)'s mom." I am those, I am her. But first, I am Julie.

Sometimes I forget.

This past year, I enjoyed the mini-reunion with my roommates as well as a milestone high school reunion. Both were essential in reclaiming the girl within the woman within the mother.

In July, there was a warm-up of sorts to the "official" October reunion. Dozens of former students at Weston High School circa 1970's, met up in Westport at Splash bar. Two of my girlhood friends stayed at my house for the weekend, and it was as though time had stood still as we primped to leave. I poured myself into a slinky, red-salmon sundress and the three of us jumped into my Mustang convertible, leaving my two bemused teenagers in the dust, as it were, as we headed off into the sultry summer evening.

Upon our return home about one in the morning, Jess and two of her friends were still awake, a bit dumbfounded that we three old broads were nowhere near ready for sleep.

As they rehashed their own evenings, so did we, roaring with laughter out on my porch, until Jess inquired at three a.m., "Mom, when are you going to bed?!"

"When I'm good and ready!" I replied, relishing the role reversal of sorts.

At the big reunion in October, only three wayward souls brought their spouses to the event. Thanks mainly to the advent of Facebook, most of us didn't need to steer conversation in the direction of what one did for a living, marital status, or how many children one had produced, because we had already done our due diligence online. For a night, we weren't defined by career, spouse, or offspring accomplishment. Instead, we essentially transported ourselves back to a simpler time and sat lazily around linen topped tables as if it were the high school cafeteria. We casually draped ourselves across one another's laps or shoulders; this was not done in an adulterous fashion, but innocently, nearly out of old habit.

We unearthed the boy inside the man, and the girl inside the woman, in a way that no one in our present lives could or can do. It was a precious evening. And for this mom of two current teenagers, going back to the future turned a key into understanding better the teen that I was, with the teens that I had produced.

Going "wild" for a night or two is something in which I believe mothers need to indulge. I don't mean flashing your boobs in an inebriated state, of course, but rather flashing your girlhood with eyes clear and heart wide open. Mothering yourself, if you will, while not abandoning the mommy-hood that is as deeply ingrained in you as anything else.

Check back in with the girl who became the woman who became the mom. It's a priceless vacation.

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