This article recently appeared on ChicagoParent.com where I am a regular contributor.
It’s been a few days since I returned from almost a week away from my family to attend #BlogHer14 in San Jose, CA. I’m still getting used to being home again; the routine of conference life quickly became my “new normal” and the re-entry of my every day life has been a slow process.
As a mom, I rarely leave my children voluntarily. Sure, they are with their dad on the weekends (and during agreed upon vacations) but I don’t take “vacation time” away from my kids. Blog conferences are the exception to that – and I don’t attend more than two a year. This one in particular had me away from home for 5 days – and away from the girls for 6 ½ because of their schedule.
Upon reflection of my time away, I realize the following things:
- Despite my daughters being a massive part of my life, I barely talked about them. Sure, the people that I interacted with knew that I was a mom, but that fact was not the central discussion point. We weren’t comparing pediatricians or the best places to buy school clothes. We talked about US; our likes, dislikes, interests, dreams, passions and heartbreaks. It was exhilarating.
- I love teaching! I had the opportunity to spend the day leading an education seminar about learning ways to turn your blog in to a business. It was fantastic to spend the day with 50 incredible diverse women, helping to guide them on a path to defining their dreams and making money doing it. I need to find more opportunities to do this because it was incredibly fulfilling.
- It IS possible for adult women to make new friends. I met amazing, incredible, smart, strong, funny as hell women (who are also moms) that I feel like I’ve known all my life. We laughed, we cried, we shared stories, we worked as a team, and we inspired and motivated each other. And we HAD FUN! I love them. They will always be in my life and I hope that I get to see them more than once a year.
But most of all, I need more time away like this. Time to just be ME. To sleep in a place alone without fear of interruption. To laugh until there are tears streaming from my eyes. To be moved by the words of strong, inspirational people that challenge what I think and believe. To dance. To be silly. To be inspired. To be bold. To put pink streaks in my hair without having to worry about the precedent I am setting for my daughters.
And to remember that there is a Jennifer buried deep inside the layers of Mom that are on the surface.