I had one big, long pajama party this weekend. As adults we like to call them women’s retreats, but as far as my daughter is concerned it’s just a glorified slumber party. We go away from our homes, eat junk food, stay up late, and talk all night. We actually don’t come home well rested, but we do come home feeling many of the same things our daughters feel when they get to have one. As adults we often try so hard to give the impression that we’re mature, organized and basically have it together. But the main reason is that we don’t think anyone else is like us. So we have to pretend. We have to look as good as we think the others around us actually are. But the beauty of some time with a bunch of other women on these retreats or any other time we get together in community with a group of women, is that we get to see the real them. We get to see the unique things that make each one of us amazing and special, and we also get to see that on the inside, we’re all a mess.
We all need an emotional makeover sometimes. There are so many seasons and struggles in life that we’re new to, that we’re constantly feeling like the one who’s entire emotional preparedness is as outdated as those aquasprayed bangs we used to sport in junior high. If only someone could have told us how embarrassed we would be later, how maybe we should be relieved we couldn’t get them one inch higher. And it’s just this reality that makes girlfriends and mentors so wonderful. Just as we’re coming into uncharted territory and feeling overwhelmed, another woman somewhere is phasing out of that wilderness. They can point us toward the oasis. They can give us some tips so we don’t just die there, alone in our unairconditioned, miserable meltdown.
Not only can we help each other through new and different places, but we can just laugh. When I was a little girl, I remember the millions of slumber parties I went to. Now most of the stuff we did and ways I acted, I’d like to forget. But I do remember with very great fondness the amount of laughing we did. Sometimes it involved stupid home videos and dance parties and sometimes it just involved laughing at ourselves. We knew how to not take ourselves so seriously. And I can proudly say that this weekend did involve a dance party. We may have even been wearing swimsuits in preparation for the Turkish bath. Fortunately it involved dancing to Watch me whip, watch me nene (seeing as how I’m not a teenager, I think I should be able to botch the spelling or name of that song. or both) and not Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation.
After talking and laughing and dancing and eating, we came home. And now it’s back to the grind. The couple of days may have seemed like a trifle to our husbands and kids. It may seem like just something that made their weekend a little harder. But for us, it’s healing. We need our friends. We need to know we’re not alone. My husband is the most amazing person I know, and I definitely didn’t feel like I needed a break from him. But to be honest, he’s never had his body destroyed by four kids. He doesn’t stay home every day and say, “Do you need to go pee pee?” 75 times a day or “Stop beating your brother up. Please take the pillow off his head.” or “Just do what I said, I don’t need all the attitude with it.” Most of the women I was with do, or will. There’s just something comforting discussing how annoying it is. How horrifying the cellulite is. How our stomachs just inflated 5 sizes after the junk food we ate because now that we had children, that skin is useless to us. It may look somewhat presentable and flat when we wake up, but it’s just a matter of minutes really till it’s muffin top central.
Part of being a woman is needing other women. I think it speaks for itself that in our nine years in Turkey I’ve been to probably six retreats and Josh has maybe been to one. He just doesn’t have the same need. Maybe on our list of life priorities having fun is basically number one for me and like 694 for him, but I still stand by my statement. That’s why we start having slumber parties when we’re two. Daphne was sure that she had embarked on the biggest adventure of her life when she packed her backpack with a pacy, blanky, and a diaper and headed off to her first slumber party. She walked up that hill with her head held high knowing she was about to experience one the most important milestones in her life. “Girls just want to have fun.” So if it’s been a while, call a few of your girlfriends and start planning.