It’s no secret that I practically stalk Jennifer Fulwiler. I’ve read her blog since she called it “Et Tu, Jen?” and have even gone as far as to suggest we might be related. (Okay, so probably not related, but there’s definitely a remote chance our ancestors knew each other.) I love reading her blog, not just for the crazy YaYa stories and Scorpion Diaries posts, but also because her journey to and through the Catholic Faith have helped me to learn more about the faith and to see it differently, as if with new eyes.
There are lots of cool conferences that go on for us Catholic bloggers, and I’ve been more and more drawn to attending one, but haven’t done it yet, even though my dear husband has said if I want to go, we’ll figure out a way to do it.
Until this morning, when I saw this post on Jennifer’s blog pop up on Facebook:
I see many of these ladies regularly at our kids’ events, and have attended prayer groups and conferences with some of them, but we had never spent time together like this. It transformed our interactions to socialize in an environment that was optimized on relaxing and having fun. We laughed when we said hello because we hardly recognized one another in nice clothes and evening makeup. We bonded more in an hour than we normally did in a month since we were able to carry on conversations without anyone having to interrupt to shout “DO NOT LICK YOUR BROTHER’S ELBOW.” And, in the end, I walked out of the restaurant feeling energized, refreshed, and thinking what I’m sure a lot of other people were thinking as well: Hey, I have some really awesome friends!
When I told Hallie about this event, she exclaimed that she had recently had a similar experience and had made the same observations. We realized that there is a tremendous need — especially among moms — for us to be able to do things like:
- Hang out with likeminded women in an environment that’s conducive to getting to know one another.
- Have uninterrupted adult conversation.
- Enjoy good food (that’s not prepared by us!)
- Have an opportunity to wear fun dress clothes.
- Have a day off — completely free of obligations — and simply relax.
I can’t remember who said it first, but one of us joked that we should do a conference. “We could have great speakers, but also plenty of time to enjoy one another’s company,” Hallie said. “Our top priority would simply be fun.”
“Our guests would leave feeling energized, just like I did after the party,” I added. “They’d have that wonderful experience of being reminded that you’re not alone in what you do every day, and that you genuinely like the company of the women who are in the trenches with you.”
And then we laughed at the absurdity of the idea. Sure, we both have event-planning experience from our former lives, and we both enjoyed it, but we each have six young children. I have a book coming out. Obviously, we cannot be putting on a conference right now.
And I thought, “Oh! Like our co-op’s Mom’s Night Out, which we never get to do any more. Only a whole weekend! With all those bloggers I’ve been chatting with online for the last 15 years!” (Yes, Barb, I’m looking at you. Yahoo Pro-Life Message Board, when I was pregnant with my older daughter.Time flies, my friend!)
So I showed my Nathan, who said, “Absolutely! You really could do that! Where is it? Austin?” And as he opened up a search on his iPhone, I started daydreaming about wandering around the beautiful venue Jennifer chose for the conference.
Suddenly, I heard him talking and snapped back to reality in Virginia. “… and there’s this museum and …”
“Huh? In Richmond? For Marathon Weekend?” I asked. We’re headed there Friday, and most of our conversations have revolved around what to do before and after he runs the marathon on Saturday morning. I was certain we’d switched gears and were on to a different subject.
He looked at me with a funny look on his face. “Um, no. Austin.”
“Oh. I guess you guys could do stuff…” I was really confused. Now it wasn’t just a flight for me and cab fare to and from the event, but a hotel room for the family, a rental car to get around Austin… would we stay just for a weekend, or make a week-long family vacation of it…?
“Or we could just stay in the hotel room.”
I asked about hotel points, and now it was Nathan’s turn to be confused. “We wouldn’t stay with you?”
“Um … NO. It’s a Moms-only weekend,” I answered, perhaps a little too forcefully. His face fell, and I added, “Suddenly, you don’t look so excited about the idea of me going.”
We did discuss a little longer, and as he left for work, he said, “You should go. And go alone. Besides, it’ll be cheaper that way! And you should go do something fun like that.”
(And for what it’s worth, I asked him if I could blog about this, because it was just so hilarious that we had what now seems like two parallel discussions about Austin in July. He was thinking “Fun Family Weekend!” and I was thinking “A Weekend Alone!”)
And so it looks like I’ll probably be headed to Austin next July, provided I can get a spot. Crazy, huh? I’m going to get my introvert card revoked if I do this too often.