It’s 2 a.m. I’m still awake, still making lists, still racking my brain—what am I forgetting? What else could go wrong that I could anticipate? Plan for? What else will they need?
Why am I up in the middle of the night, stressing and imagining every possible scenario my family could encounter? Well, because I’m leaving them. (Relax, it’s just for three days.)
Because even if I haven’t slept in a week, and feel a twinge of guilt, and really can’t afford it, and it’s not a good time for my husband who has to work, or my kids who have school projects and basketball games and could get sick, guess what? I’m leaving on a jet plane anyway for a girls’ weekend with my BFF. Even if it inconveniences my family, I’m going. I need it. And they know I need it. They know how much I do for them (well, maybe not everything I do for them), they know I love them fiercely, and they know I’ll be home before they have a chance to miss me, and that I’ll have rested, filled my cup, and will be ready to Mom again.
So yeah, if I have to move a mountain or sell a non-vital organ or give up fancy coffee creamer and buy nothing on Amazon for a year, I’m getting on that plane. Peace out, fam.
Folks, I know it’s hard. I know what it feels like to fight the guilt and “how will they survive without me?” fears. I know. I’ve left my family for girls’ trips several times and I still write a novel for my super-involved, extremely competent husband every time. And I also write one for my kids, who are all old enough to make their own food, dress themselves, and wipe their own butts.
I still write out things like “he likes ham sandwiches, no mayo” about my 10-year-old (who is more than capable of stating his sandwich desires and making his own lunch). I will make sure every scrap of laundry is done before I go, even though most of the people I am leaving at home are capable of putting clothes into the machine and pressing the start button. And I will grocery shop and ensure their tiny shoes are lined up in their cubbies and homework folders are signed and a multitude of other tasks they are all capable of doing without me, not because I fear they’ll mess everything up, but because only when I’ve done all the things can I truly relax and have the girls’ weekend I need and deserve. (Even if I have to nap on the plane.)
Why do I go on girls’ trips, despite all the work it takes? For my own health, that’s why.
And if you don’t believe me that women need time with our BFFs, ask science. Even research studies are saying that time with girlfriends is good for our health and longevity. Well, if science says it… I guess that means we all need to put a little cash aside so we can steal away and have a wine weekend with our pals. Thanks, research!
According to an article on Distractify, having a close connection with friends helps us tolerate pain better, as it releases oxytocin in our bodies. “Sometimes called the ‘cuddle hormone,’ this neurotransmitter is produced through a number of bonding activities, and has powerful effects on mood, lowering depression and anxiety,” writer Amber Garrett explains.
Also, time with friends increases our chances of being happier and healthier, and living longer, fuller lives. In fact, the lack of strong friendships has been found to actually be damaging to one’s health, said to be “as hazardous as smoking three-fourths of a pack of cigarettes daily and more detrimental than obesity or physical inactivity,” according to Harvard researchers.
And yet another study revealed that BFF quality time helps prevent dementia. So next week, when I’m getting a much-needed break from the relentless demands of motherhood and my friend and I are day-drinking, sharing chips and salsa, and reminiscing about our college days of wearing tube-tops and sleeping through 8 a.m. classes, we are also keeping our brains active and alert so we can still be taking these trips in 40 years.
This is good news for us, friends. I mean, who doesn’t want to live a long, healthy life? Who doesn’t want to visit their grandbabies and go on cruises and drink good wine well into their golden years? I sure do. So, if spending extra time with my BFFs now gets me there, well, a girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do.
Listen, obviously not every mom can hop on a plane and fly out for a long weekend to NYC. You can still squeeze quality friend time into your life, even on a smaller scale. Do a day trip together—go shopping, hiking, or see a matinee at your local theater. Go camping, do a wine tasting, or rent a quiet cabin for a night. Even monthly book clubs or chick-flick movie nights or regular happy hours are good for the soul and will fill your cup.
The point is, we need to nurture these friendships in our life. Kids and marriage and work and life can all get the in the way and prevent us from reaching out to that friend we haven’t talked to in months. Our motherhood responsibilities can guilt us into saying no, we can’t go grab lunch or sneak away for a night in Chicago to do a little shopping. But it’s important to make the time, even if it means sacrificing a week of sleep and writing out a 20-step itinerary for the three days you’ll be gone.
So yeah, I’ve still got some things to do before leaving so that I can relax and know my family has their shit together (since I’m the one who usually holds all the shit together). But regardless of whether I write it all down or forget something or worry that something could go wrong or stress that my trip is expensive, I’m going.
I’m flying to NYC with a friend I haven’t seen in four years. We are going to laugh and talk and drink margaritas with lunch and probably be in our pajamas, at our hotel, watching Netflix by 10 every night. Because that’s exactly the trip we need.
Our future health depends on it.