The year that I turned 40 I invited five or six of my favorite women to head up north to my parent's cabin with me for a long weekend of self-care. I had not made a habit of refilling my own cup since motherhood began more than a decade before, and I thought a ladies-variation on Deer Camp was finally in order.
If our family could carve out time for Pete's self-care (ala hunting season), I reasoned, why not the same for me?
I envisioned a weekend of staying up late and sleeping in; cross-country skiing and hikes through the woods; glorious food and copious, gluttonous, ridiculous amounts of knitting.
And that was just what transpired.
Just three of the friends I had invited signed on to join me that first year: my dearest friend from college, my best friend from high school, and my sister. And we couldn't have worked out a better number or a lovelier combination of souls.
As we arrived and unpacked, I realized that these three were the very same women who had gathered with me here some 15 years before – on the day that Pete and I exchanged wedding vows in a small, private ceremony in the woods just up river.
We have history, these ladies and I. They where among the first to hold my babies after they arrived earth-side. They are the mothers of babies that I, too, was lucky to hold when they were still new. They were among the community who showed up at the hospital and stood beside us when Sage was small and life was frightening and our future uncertain. They have known me longer and through more struggles and triumphs than most.
These three are among the women for whom I do my best to show up, year after year, season after season, moment after moment in the ways that they need me most. And each of them are among the friends who do the same for me.
That first weekend was just what I had hoped for. And every year since then the four of us have gathered in mid-winter or early spring for a weekend alongside the river. We put our lives on hold, we reconnect, we laugh, we cry, and we exhale.
We refill our own cups after a full and busy season of the things that we do.
This weekend was our fourth such gathering. And just as the years before, this one was meaningful, restorative, and deepened my ties yet again to these woman who have shared in some or all of the most pivotal chapters of my life.
Though our lives are so very different, there are countless common threads that weave through us all.
I'll be the first to admit that it isn't often easy to break away or to make time for ourselves. Refilling our own cups rarely comes first.
But once a year we manage to press the pause button. We load up the car with comfort food, yarn, and skis and take a moment just for ourselves.
I am so grateful that we do.
And, indeed, I am grateful for the roles these women have played in my life.