I was astonished to see how many people said things like "I wish!", "I could never pull that off", "Lucky you!", and "I just can't get away from my job/husband/kids" when I mentioned I was retreating. I am not lucky, or rich, or selfish. I just decided I needed to do this, for my own well-being. How are women to replenish the well from which we draw the love, patience, faith, energy, endurance, and humor that mothering and marriage require of us, if we don't occasionally step out of it for a rest?
The word "retreat" implies a change in direction, a halt-and-withdraw military tactic. It implies giving up, a changing of our minds in the face of insurmountable conflict or challenge. Its more negative connotation is that it is a shirking of responsibilities or commitments at the last moment. I am reminded of the comment I received on Friday's post, where a reader said she could never do this, "especially leaving a sick child behind"...(for the record: Violet was on Day 3 of a gastro bug when I left and was feeling fine)...
Is it any wonder that mothers are burnt out...worn out, worn thin, barely hanging on by a thread? As Joan Anderson wrote in her book "A Weekend to Change Your Life", it is absolutely PITIFUL that we cannot find twenty-four hours for ourselves, in a year that contains eighty-seven HUNDRED hours!
It is precisely through caring so diligently for my children, my spouse, my home, and my career that I have arrived at a point in my life where it's do or die~ or maybe less dramatically, do or wilt and wither. Through the long postpartum months of caring for Margot, her subsequent surgery and recovery, my determined (then desperate) attempts to breastfeed her, never leaving her side, never taking a break, while also caring for two other young children, I depleted myself.
You don't need money. You don't need to go to a spa. You don't even need to go away for a weekend, although I highly recommend it. Ask around. Find out who has a cottage/cabin that they'd be willing to lend for a day/weekend. Do something in return, for rent: have the chimney cleaned, replenish the firewood, offer to cut their grass...be creative. This is something that will replenish you. Your only tasks should be:
feeding yourself simply
and just sitting quietly, uninterrupted, with your thoughts.
I dare you to look at your calendar right now and pick a weekend sometime in the next few months to go away, to rest and restore yourself. I double dare you.
Stay tuned for a week's worth of retreat-related reflections.