When I met Tracey, it was one of those rare “love- at-first-sight” friendships. She was hired onto my work team, and right away we clicked. We loved traveling, prided ourselves in our efficiency and work ethic, had coddled pet cats and live-in boyfriends at home, and even had the same birthday. Talk about fate.
Over the years, we’ve shared many ethnic food lunches, treated ourselves to ill-advised (for our figures) ice creams, and had long, soul-searching conversations about family, careers and everything else. Even when we weren’t in back-to-back cubicles anymore, each got married, and now live in different cities, our friendship remained.
Now, we’re also each mothers of two boys (our similarities continue!), and she’s got one more on the way. Because her kids are older than mine and we’re both working moms, Tracey has been such an inspiration and source of advice for me. She showed me the way to parenthood. Seeing someone who I think of as just like me navigate the challenges and rewards, let me know that I could do it too. I have called her crying several times when the guilt of being a working mother has felt overwhelming, and I know she understands and can give great perspective.
Tracey is the one who encouraged me to spend my first nights away from my son when he was about a year and a half old. I had been surprised to find that I was the type of mother who didn’t want to leave her child. So tight was my hold on my son’s routines and so passionate was my new-mother love that it was only Tracey’s firm follow up about dates for a girls’ weekend that made me go through with it.
The moment we arrived at our bed and breakfast in Sonoma’s wine country and checked into the spa, I was hit by this sense of freedom and relaxation – no one was expecting me anywhere, to do any thing, for an entire 24-hour period! After our massages, we sat in the spa’s outdoor lounging area for so long, talking sometimes and other times just companionably reading books side by side, that finally the staff had to come to us and say, “Ladies, we’re closing.” Afterward, we had a 9 pm dinner, which of course is also a forgotten pleasure when you have young kids. What a great break from the intensity of new parenthood, and what a welcome reminder of the person (and friend!) I was before I had kids.
Just last weekend, Tracey and I had our third girls’ weekend, fitting it in just five weeks before she is due with baby number three. We shopped, ate at Mario Batali’s pizzeria, and talked – a lot. Our husbands should be grateful that we got it all out (we’re both the “talkers” in our marriages!). I returned home dying to see my family, refreshed, and ready to take on the work week and run after a three year old and one year old.
So, just schedule it. Time with girlfriends is restorative and benefits the rest of your life too.
–Jeanne N. Hughes