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My girlfriend Renee surprised me with a
visit this weekend to help me celebrate a recent birthday.
Completely stunned, I saw my weekend go from one planned with
laundry and grocery shopping to a couple of days with brief little
stints running around the city shopping, gabbing, and eating good

In the entire two days she was here, Brian only had to give Cora
one bottle – I was able to work my little forays into fun
around her schedule pretty well. But I clearly could not have done
all my fun stuff without a lot of sacrifice on the part of my mom
and husband, who both stepped up to the plate and generously
covered all childcare for the weekend. I felt rejuvenated,
refreshed, and recharged after a few simple fun outings and the
company of one of my best friends.

Which led me to think about how much my priorities have changed for
“downtime”. As Renee and I stood in Anthropologie
gleefully trying on delicate, pretty, dry-clean-only,
doesn’t-go-with-spit-up clothes, I tried to figure out the
last time I went fun shopping with a girlfriend. And other than a
few hectic trips to the outlet mall, either with Maddie in tow or
with a big belly, the last time I can come up with was another
shopping trip with Renee.

In 2003.

Otherwise, my trips to the store have a
toddler or baby crawling around the fitting room floor, finding
every straight pin and trying to put it in her mouth. Begging for
Cheerios. Needing a major stinky diaper change. These quick,
harassed trips to the Gap, while necessary to clothe a post-partum
body, are neither fun nor refreshing.

And as for a fun few hours simply strolling around the city and
stopping in whatever store catches my eye, forget it. Remember
those good times of, “Let’s just head out and when
we’re hungry we’ll find someplace cute to eat”?
Now it’s, “Do I have enough snacks in my bag to tide us
over? Is there someplace kid-friendly in the area I’ll be
that will have a wait time of less than five minutes?” Renee
and I had decadent afternoon teas and long yummy brunches where I
could order whatever I wanted. No worrying about Maddie wanting
what was on my plate and needing to set an example. I could eat
whatever I wanted.

The highlight, of course, though, was the conversation. My other
girlfriend Abby even joined us for Sunday brunch, and I honestly
don’t think I’ve had such quality time with my friends
in years. I had several conversations over the weekend in which I
was never interrupted to be told, “I just did a pooty. Just a
little one, though, not a big one.” I never got knee-deep
into an intimate relationship discussion only to hear, “What
are you talking about, Mommy?” I had whole, luxurious meals
to chat and catch up on the minutiae of my friends’ lives
rather than five minutes to hear the Highlights Reel in between
toddler chants of, “All finished! All finished! All finished!
All finished!”

I’m not saying I’ve never had any time to myself in the
past two years; Brian’s very sacrificially given me
afternoons or evenings or chunks of time to wander through
bookstores or take some time to myself. And I confess that the
commute time on the subway to and from work is a treasured
“quiet time” to me. But it’s not the same as
quality time with a girlfriend, and finding the time to hang with
another Mommy friend is almost logistically impossible. We settle
for emails at 2 a.m. and quick phone calls, brief hellos and
goodbyes at church. And that’s just not good enough. Women
are by our very nature relational – we crave the company, the
camaraderie of other women. Catching up on Mommy stuff around the
swingset is great – it keeps me sane, it really does. But
there’s nothing like alone, non-Mommy time with another good
friend. Talk about a battery recharger.

This comes at a price, of course: every free moment for me is at
the expense of my husband, my mother, the sacrifice of my friend
leaving her own toddler behind for two days to fly up here. But I
didn’t even leave the city or get a fancy chocolate on my
pillow at bedtime, yet I feel as if I just had a weekend getaway.
And every time I came home to the girls I was happy to see them and
had more of myself to give them as a result.

So get out there, mommies and daddies, and carve out a
mini-vacation for yourself. You’ll be a better, saner parent
because of it. If the spouse balks at giving you time off, tell
them I said so. And, of course, tell them that you’ll


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