In the course of our day to day/week to week life there is very little time for personal down time, relaxation, renewal or creativity. My days are enjoyable and extremely full with the kids, activities and all the tasks that go into running a house of 6 people. I don't seem to be able to get all I would like accomplished in a day or week for that matter. If I do go out, its often to meetings for various groups/organizations that I volunteer with so its part of the routine. Since I enjoy where I'm at in my life, I get into a rhythm and tend to just keep plugging along not really realizing that I am missing opportunities to re-energize. It is very easy to lose your self and your needs in the overall family and household needs. I hadn't really noticed until I went to say goodbye to the three older kids Saturday that I can't remember the last time that I was gone from home for several hours without them. It felt weird to be leaving them home while I went off on a scrap booking event. I needed to take Baby L and due to something S had to go to I couldn't attend the whole weekend but I loaded up the baby, my gear and headed to a camp about an h our away for my 24 hour break. It wasn't luxurious but it was truly enjoyable. The best part was the meals. No, it wasn't any five star restaurant. It was just camp food that most thought was kind of "blah" but to me it was divine. I didn't have to plan it, go grocery shopping, prepare, serve and clean up. I didn't have anyone eating off my plate. I didn't have to cut up anything on anyone's plate or help them eat. I didn't have to coach anyone through the meal with appropriate table behaviour and manners, no one was fighting or yelling and the conversation was adult focussed. I could sit and eat (well except that the baby seemed to do his regular thing of not letting me really sit through a meal and fully enjoy it but that didn't seem to matter as it was only one kid and not four).
The weekend wasn't a typical one for me as I usually don't have kids in tow and I go with my friend T and often L. Its a great opportunity to be creative, to get to spend time together without a kid focus and to do things you don't typically get the opportunity to do. This year, my friends couldn't join me. I was anxious about having the baby along as I know other people there are also on a get away and likely left their kids/families behind and didn't want to be disrupted by a baby. I worried about the sleeping arrangements (rooms of bunks) and was concerned he would wake people up. Luckily, things flowed fairly smoothly. He was completely over stimulated so that meant no sleeping and more fussing but all in all he did really well. I knew I wouldn't accomplish much but thoroughly enjoyed the chance to get at my photos which I haven't touched in many months.
The one thing that amazed me was how much I missed my friends that have been there every other time I've gone on this yearly event. All the tables were full of friends or family that were having a great time together. I was seated at a table with two other "loners" and it really wasn't the same. There is an energy that renews one when spending time with friends and I really need that so it seemed even emptier for me that it likely was in reality.
I had the pleasure of sitting with a woman who most people there learned to dislike in a very short time. She's the kind of person who can't seem to formulate a single thought in their mind....they are all said out loud....therefore there is a constant stream of words coming from her mouth. Her volume only has one level. The level I thought was only reserved for my children...the one that's off the top of the scale. She also tended to repeat herself a lot as when one's mind is constantly going and is on the "outside" its probable that you do run out of material and tend to repeat yourself. There is also the issue of "too much information/didn't really care to know that" that comes into play. Of course, this is also the same person who seems to be unaware of the cues of others, doesn't seem to see how she is affecting others or a need to change her behaviour. She struggles socially. I'm sure you could have asked any of the other 35 women about some other person they didn't know and they likely couldn't tell you very much about them but they all knew about this woman. They also all knew about the lady with the baby so I guess that made two of us that didn't really need a whole lot of description and the group could identify us. After this description, one may think there isn't too much to make the experience a pleasure but I really learned a lot from her. I was able to see that instead of her being so different she was really the same. We all had the same purpose there, to create family keepsakes and the same underlying value that family is very important. She also helped me see how much I really missed my friends and that perhaps I may take them for granted and not always share with them how important they are in my life. It was also a reminder of what not to do in a social setting. Because of my background in communication, I am very aware of both verbal and non-verbal communication and try to be keenly aware of both in interactions. This was a good reminder to be aware of the non-verbal cues I may be giving off that are intentional or unintentional. This woman could illicit the deepest groans and sighs of frustration, annoyance and disgust from even from the sweetest looking people. By the time I arrived Saturday, she could cause people to stiffen, to let out "UG!" in so may ways and through their body language/non-verbal language made it known to all (except one woman) that they were ready to explode if she didn't stop talking! I learned to look beyond the obvious and see that she was just like the rest of us and was there with the same goals. A great reminder to me to keep looking beyond the outer shell.
It was a whirlwind 24 hours and I left very tired (baby was restless so I didn''t really sleep when I finally did got to bed in the wee hours of the morning as I was afraid he would disturb others), wet (it rained heavily on the drive there and back and therefore all unloading and packing was during the rain) but with an energy and a peacefulness that hasn't been so full in the past few months for me. Even though I didn't realize I needing to "re-fill" those and I was enjoying my life's journey/adventure, I realized that I need to try and be creative and find opportunities to do more things that refill my tanks so that I am able to be the Mom and wife that I strive to be and find even more joy and happiness in my already incredible full, blessed life.