4 Days Away
This past weekend, I flew out to Maryland to visit one of my oldest and closest friends. We’ve known each other since middle school, so my list of memories together could go on forever. Unfortunately though, we don’t get to spend much time together because we’ve both moved far away from our hometown, so four days with her was a rare treat.
This trip was also the first time I’ve gone anywhere overnight sans kiddos since Dalton was born. To say it felt strange would certainly be an understatement. Instead of lugging what always feels like my entire house with me, I traveled with one backpack. I breezed through security (with no extra screenings), strolled right onto the plane, and more or less relaxed for my flights. Most of the time, it seemed like I was forgetting something.
My first night there, we spent some time just relaxing and catching up. The next day, we drove down to Washington DC, which is about an hour and a half from my friend’s house. We’ve both been there a few times already, so we didn’t feel the need to pack in everything we possibly could. With very young children, it often feels like my life is moving at a breakneck pace of urgent need after urgent need, so being able to take it slow for a change was wonderful.
We spent most of our day exploring the sights and shops in Georgetown, pausing to sip delicious mochas at Blue Bottle Coffee and equally decadent cupcakes at the bakery/coffee shop Baked and Wired. I’d been dying to try it out, but the last time I was in Georgetown, the line was out the door and around the block. Of course, no trip to DC is complete without a visit to the National Mall. We were pretty exhausted by this point, so we mostly stuck around the Washington Monument and the White House before finishing off the night with some take out pho.
Most of my third day, we combed my friend’s favorite local thrift shops. We both scored a few really great finds, although most of mine were for my kids. On my last day, we made the two-hour drive back to Baltimore early and walked around the Inner Harbor area for a few hours. I absolutely loved all the old cobblestone streets and buildings, one of which was a pub rumored to be the last place Edgar Allen Poe was seen alive. We grabbed a bite to eat and hit up one last thrift store before I hopped on a plane to head home.
I’d missed my family immensely, but I also didn’t realize how badly I needed a break until I took one. I’d fallen into a rut of trying to handle everything by myself, average tasks and extras alike, and my parenting suffered for it. I’d created this unclimbable mountain of expectations for myself, and then driven myself crazy stressing when I wasn’t able to. A few days away showed me that I have to be ok with my own inability. With asking for help when I need it. With not being perfect.
So, as Christmas draws nearer, I’m challenging myself (and you, dear reader) to step back from the unrealistic expectations that often accompany this season. Think about what’s really important and skip the rest. Ask for help when you need it and take it when it’s available.
And, if the opportunity arrises to visit a friend you haven’t seen in ages, take it.