Retreat!

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Power of Moms 2013 board members. This is about half of us. (That’s me, top-left!) Meet all of us here: http://powerofmoms.com/about-us/our-board-of-moms/

A mild wind whips through the canyon and I tightly grip my slender Samsonite, rolling black across the pebbled parking lot. Cars and eighteen-wheelers zoom past on the nearby highway, muffling our voices at the shuttle stop.

How are you? Yes, I’m fine. Just a short drive for some. But for me, a vast country now lies between my boys and this spot.

How did I get here? I wonder. Though I am standing still, my pulse races a little and my hands begin to sweat. Today virtual comrades will materialize in the flesh. But I’m still unsure how to feel.

A short ride and we’re there, at the steps of a miniature palace, a home with smiling pictures of little ones on the walls. The mingling has begun. I scurry across and then bury my bags in the basement. For a moment I stand still in the stairwell and breathe. I can do this.

Smiling and friendly, I secure a seat in the back. Two-story crystal windows frame a majestic mountain view, and sunlight bathes our congregation. The Power of Moms board is introduced, and I stand in the crowd. Scattered like popcorn in the sea of women, we glance at each other. I give a little wave and a tip of my chin. We are components of a complicated machine that makes all of this work. And we do it because we believe in the cause. Surely this one fact binds us although many of us—working together for years—have never met.

The prologue is stunning. With a literal bang of the gong, we are welcomed and peppered with compliments, boosted up for accepting and magnifying our responsibilities in the most important career on the planet: home-making. Some people build bridges or farms or databases. But we build homes and people. What’s more important than that?

We learn we are not a-dime-a-dozen anymore. Not in this day and age. In fact, we are the minority, and not only just. By a large margin, singleness, divorce and childlessness dominate our now shrinking global society. We’ve never felt like the cream of the crop, but we learn that we are. Indispensable. A dying breed. Who knew? Not us. And certainly not the rascals that run us ragged on the home front. It’s an empowering discovery.

Two rules prevail over all else during the day-long engagement: no judgment and no guilt. Not that a mother ever feels such things, of course. Today we are free. Free to use our hands and our minds to enlarge our souls, to brainstorm, to be educated in our craft.

As the morning matures, we break off into groups. From my station in the butler’s kitchen I can hear the twitter and laughter of women as they change places. In our quiet corner, we spread and flop and slice, making a hundred sandwiches. It’s a familiar task for us all, just on a larger scale than yesterday. If you need a pinch hitter when your caterer cancels, get a mom! Or ten. We’ll get the job done. And we do. One sweeps and one washes. We talk in whispers so as not to disrupt the others who lie scattered about the house engaged in somber or gleeful conversations about our big and little ones. Some faces are red or tearstained, but most are smiling or trained intently on the speaker in each circle. Energy bounces around in the vast cathedral ceilings, electrifying participants. And yet there’s a peace as well. We are here united as one in the creation of life. We seek to better ourselves and our relationships with our children.

Throughout the day, we buzz around like honeybees tending the hive of women, nurturing and watching and caring for other human beings as we always do. But today is different because we do it for each other. Leading the day are April and Saren, their faces bright and familiar. Richard and Linda grace us with their wise words and experiences, making us laugh and buoying us up as we go. Their advice runs like gold and silver threads caught on the wind and tucked in our little notebooks for later. If only we could snatch them all and successfully weave them into the blankets of our households! We’d be truly wealthy if that were the case.

Time passes quickly and we scramble to fill it with worthwhile pursuits. Attendees soak up verbal treasures like sponges, ready to squeeze them back into their families when they return home. Then suddenly we’re tapering to the end. Rich bits of dark chocolate and fresh strawberries dot snack plates throughout the crowd, and there’s one last gathering in the space where we started. One last virtual hug from our hosts and we’ll be ready to scatter like ants, busy and bustling. The children await, and our spouses are likely growing weary watching the front window for our return. But first we are allowed one last gift: a moment for reflection. We ponder in silence. Our minds whirl with newfound tidbits and visions of motherhood perfection. An occasional pencil scribbles down something we missed.

Is it over already? But where did the day go? We cling to our notes and lengthen our stride, hugging and throwing kisses to our fellow foot soldiers on the way out the door. Buoyant steps lead back to the caravans.

It would be easy to leave feeling overwhelmed and burdened, but we don’t. We leave armed with a warning: Be patient with yourself. Apply what you’ve learned, but not all in one day. Pick one or two things and go slowly. Master a skill and then return to this reservoir of ideas and select another.

We have been fed today: mind, body, and spirit. We return with our wells overflowing, ready to fill pitchers with sweet water and portion it out to our beautiful families. And for the first time in a long time we understand how it works: We must fill the well and the pitcher before the others’ cups.

Like members of any other serious profession, mothers need opportunities to network with other moms and share “best practices” in their field. Power of Moms Retreats offer deliberate mothers the inspiration, motivation, and comfort they crave.

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