The One Thing Every Mom Needs

Fun, sun, girl-bonding. What could be better?

I spent the weekend in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina with one of my oldest and bestest friends on a girls' weekend. And it was just what the doctor ordered. My friend Amanda's husband set up the trip in celebration of her 35th birthday-and for a much-deserved and needed getaway. Amanda's beloved mother, who I was also very close with, lost her long and rough battle with breast cancer six months ago and Amanda was by her side to the end. We've been tight since elementary school and when her husband mentioned the trip to me, I was all in. Amanda, who now lives in North Carolina, brought along two of her new NC friends. I adored them, instantly. Within minutes of being scooped up from the airport, we were all like long-lost girlfriend soul mates, sharing dill pickle potato chips and intimate details about our lives. I couldn't have asked for a more perfect, battery-charging, soul-nourishing weekend. Yes, I'm pregnant so there were no poolside mojitos for me, but I didn't even miss them. That's how great the getaway was. It was a reminder of how important it is to not only have girlfriends, but to make new ones-and to make time for the great women in our lives as often as we can. Something that can easily be forgotten during these intense child-rearing/money-earning/kinda-exhausting years. Here's what made the mini vacation such a huge success…

1. Pure, old-school fun. We laughed a lot-at each other, at ourselves, at the 17-year-old who tried to convince us he was 34. Laughing = therapy. And the blissful surroundings (gorgeous pools, warm Atlantic ocean, swanky hotel) didn't hurt. We people watched and chatted up strangers and played "Which guy at the bar would you make out with if you had to pick one?"(This should go without saying but I'll say it anyway: totally harmless game.) We danced (not with the 17-year-old), played in the ocean, shared hair products and jewelry (we had adjoining rooms so it was like a high-end dorm for ladies-loved!) and sang along to whatever came on the radio. They all like country; a lot.

2. The validation that you're normal. We talked about real issues and got deep (I'm incapable of small talk) about our marriages, our parenting styles, friends, parents, in-laws, sex, religion, etc. When you're on vacation it's easier to open up and we all did. And it's nice to know that other women, even people who live in different parts of the country and are at different life stages, go through the same stuff. As a woman and a mom and, well, a human, it's important to feel like whatever you're facing-good, bad or ridiculous-you're not alone. Bonus: I had just met two of the women so we didn't already know each other's stories. And no one had preformed opinions!

3. Reconnecting with…yourself. Things you do on a girls' weekend that you may not get to do all the time at home: Pee alone. Shower alone. Sleep alone in a comfy hotel bed with no one stealing your pillow. Sleep as late as you want. Eat when and what you want (hummus and chips for lunch with a side of loaded nachos? yes, please!). Think without being interrupted (remember that?). Do whatever you feel like doing all day long (we mostly laid at the pool chatting and reading, walked on the beach and took dips to cool down-hard to argue with that routine). Bottom line: It was nice to indulge, to reclaim some independence and to worry about only ourselves for 48 glorious hours (we all have great husbands who were handling things at home so there were no worries there).

4. Talking with moms about stuff other than our kids. The four of us on the trip have 10 kids between us but we really didn't talk much about them-at least not in a nitty-gritty, give-me-potty-training advice kind of way. When I'm hanging with my mom friends at home, the conversations can skew kid-centric. We share the latest parenting snafu or debate what camp/school/sports team we're signing them up for. That's important stuff to talk about, don't get me wrong, but when you're away from the minutiae of child-rearing, it really isn't top of mind. And that void opens you up to revisit all those other things that make you you. We talked about what we were like as kids, our losses, our careers (some present, some former), exes, wild streaks, family drama. It's also easier to get into deep-dive topics when you don't have to do it in one-minute intervals between kids tugging at your arm because they need to poop. Having an adult conversation about non-kid stuff that doesn't take place in snippits is so good for the mom soul.

5. Reminding everyone (including you) that you have a life outside of your kids and your spouse. And living it. One of the most important things to know about me as a mother and a wife: I am more than those things. I never want to be solely defined by one role and I love wearing many hats (over the weekend it was a giant floppy orange one that kept the rays away). The women I was with have plenty of their own stuff going on too, which I'm sure is why we all clicked. It's good for our kids and husbands to remember this, too. Even if it's just so they miss us and have a newfound appreciation for how much we do. I want my kids to grow up with a mom who has friends and passions and who gets out of dodge every once in a while. It makes us better moms and better wives (not to mention better people) to have been away. And that's good for everyone.

I'm home now and hoping the good vibes from the trip last through the holiday weekend. Something tells me they will. In the meantime, I'm going to get more girl time on my calendar-stat. Have you been on a girls' getaway lately? Do you make time for your girlfriends? How important is it to you? Even if you can't make a weekend out of it, try for a night out. It does a mom good.

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