Some of the dearest blessings in my life are my girlfriends. From adolescence through college and certainly my career, I have moved through each day surrounded by some of the most amazing women, and picked up new gems to treasure along the journey.
I’m attracted to friends who speak honestly, but with care. Who inspire me both with their strengths and vulnerability. Who trust me, don’t expect too much out of me and can hold their own. I fight hard for loyalty and except the same on the other end. I find the vast differences among my closest girlfriends fascinating; The fact that there is no one combination of traits, or absolute formula, that makes two people a match. My group of high school girlfriends (a few of which have been in my life far longer than that) are the fiercest example of diverse, strong ladies who’ve formed bold, unbreakable bonds.
Every summer, we secure childcare, pick calorie-wasted tried-and-true Pinterest dishes, embrace clear, unforgiving liquor and head north for our Annual Girls’ Day at the Lake. It’s not just about the break – although that is part of it – it’s about the connections and the reminder that, before we were wives, mothers, employees, we were a really good time. And, hell, we’ve still got it.
more than moms
Let’s be honest, women are, more often than not, the responsibility pack mules of a household. We’re the ones who make sure there are Apple-Nana GoGo Squeezes for their lunches rather than Apple-Strawberry, which we know she won’t eat. We notice the rings in the toilets, the clutter on the counter and whatever the hell that is caked on the bottom of the refrigerator drawers. Somewhere in the cluttered lines of our to-do lists, we often forget to pencil in fun and pampering and quiet. We replace it, rather, with some menial task that resolves some minor flaw in our home.
But on this one day, which typically doesn’t even span a full 24 hours, we aren’t “Mom”. It’s not that we don’t embrace and cherish that dimension of our lives, it’s that a free pass from fueling that functionality is refreshing every once in awhile. Allowing ourselves to be tipsy and stupid and listen to music with curse words and dance like the fools we used to be all the time is invigorating. The fact that we hang our grownup hats at the door and trade them for something a little less mature doesn’t make us bad mothers. It just makes us human.
circle of trust
There’s a sisterhood that comes with shared experiences. While no two of our lives are identical, we have a wealth of shared memories and shared scars. We’ve faced divorce, loss, marital strains. We’ve welcomed spouses, children and careers. Some have moved, some have returned. It’s funny, while we always have this history to come back to, it’s who we are now, at the end of all of it, that makes those ties so tight.
As the date rolls around each year, it seems one of the girls is in need of support. There are typically tears, which I attribute to release. We all want to be heard. We all need someone to place their hand on our shoulder, at some point. But life can get pretty freaking noisy. After we have our fun, it’s the conversations before bed that make our hearts and minds a little lighter.
laughing is good for the soul
Things happen at Girls Day. One-person kayaks, we’ve discovered, tip when two tenants try to pick up the paddle. Pontoons die unexpectedly, and can not be towed by the aforementioned kayak, but have to be pulled by out-of-shape swimmers. Power naps have been tested and approved. Everything is better with club soda and when all else fails, a fall will make some mother of two pee her pants every dang time. There’s laughing and then there’s those gut-clenching, silent laughs that follow something so stupid it brings tears to your eyes and knocks the wind out of your lungs. Those are the kind with aftershocks. Weeks from now you’ll be sitting in a dry meeting about something semi-vital and it will replay, unprompted, through your mind, causing an embarrassing fit of teary giggles.
reconnecting on memory lane
I know these women. I’ve known them since we were girls. While the tides have turned certain characteristics and dulled sharp edges, our group maintains its cast. The nurturer still looks on me with those empathetic eyes. The social chair is still the glue that holds our ties together when the strains of the weeks wear cruelly on them. The sensible one is my most familiar voice of reason. The tough one is still the object of my awe for her strength and resilience. The dreamer is off, catching all her stars. The winds change directions, they pick up or calm, but the strengths in these ladies stand so true at their surface and feel so accessible to me, like the smell of your mother’s kitchen and how it brings calm and happiness.
Do you have a tradition with your girlfriends? Don’t wait for things to calm down. Hop over to Facebook, start a group message and get something on the calendar.