As I packed my bag for a long-weekend trip for a college friend’s wedding, I was suddenly struck with a little anxiety. I’m going away to a new city. by myself. without my kids. without my husband. just me. i would be meeting lots of new people. having conversations. what would i have to say? i wouldn’t have my “distractions” with me. those people who keep relationships at a distance. those people who stand between me and others so i can slip in the background and not be analyzed and noticed.

just me.

i haven’t thought about just me since 1999 when i became a wife. i thought even less about me when i became a mom in 2004. when my 3rd child was born in 2009 i was unable to even answer the question, “what are your hobbies?”.

i packed my carry-on, just for me. i tried on every outfit, ones that hadn’t been worn for awhile.  i even gathered some dangly earrings for a little flair. i chose a new book off the shelf to read on the plane.

my first discovery was that flying alone is simplicity. every step in the entire process is a breeze when you only think about yourself. i even had enough time before my flight to buy a twix candy bar…that i did not share!

i slept. i read. i slept. i drank an entire ginger ale not worrying if someone would knock it off my tray. then it happened

At the end of the flight i noticed that the girl next to me was pregnant and was reading “What to expect when you’re expecting…” and my “out-of-body” experience ended and i was reminded of a key aspect of me: I AM a mom.

Even when my children are miles away. I AM a mom.

we spoke about her fears. i recommended my favorite swaddling blanket (the miracle blanket, btw). i shared my journey of discovering my parenting style when i had my first. i encouraged her to trust her instinct. i gave her the titles of some of my favorite books.

she gave me the reminder that I AM a mom.

I arrived at the airport. rented my car and headed to my friend’s house. me. driving by myself. i was drawn to stop at an Arby’s and get a regular roast beef sandwich with Arby’s sauce. i remember the foods i love. i indulge myself. i am reminded that I AM human.

I walk in my friend’s home. a home full of life and personality. i remember memories shared in college. tears and laughter. i am filled with joy at her upcoming union to another good college friend. we stay up until 2:30 am talking, crying and laughing. i am reminded that I AM a friend.

the next day is full of preparation. i leave that morning with a new friend i met. we go to buy a wedding present at the mall. we grab coffee and sit down and talk. She is from L.A.. She makes T.V. shows. i am reminded that I AM a lover of entertainment.

over the course of the weekend conversations with this new friend grow deeper. we find common backgrounds. experiences. joys and sorrows. spiritual journeys are shared. i am reminded that I AM a kindred spirit to a new friend.

As the day progresses and some difficulties arise and stress mounts. i hear myself trying to encourage. i distract with humor. i pray silently. i fall asleep praying that my dear friend would not allow the stress to steal her joy. i wake up with the same prayer. i am reminded that I AM a seeker of God. I AM His child.

the bride prepares. i complete tasks…iron shirts, clean up the home, go buy a guest book that did not arrive in the mail, take trash bags to venue, buy gift cards, transport cakes. i am reminded that I AM a helper.

it rained the entire weekend except for the 3 hours needed for the outdoor ceremony on a beautiful farm. the sky was blue with white clouds. the sunset was captivating and the rain cooled the summer heat. the sun cast a glow on the refurbished barn. bouquets of wildflowers in mason jars. i am reminded that I AM a nature lover. an admirer of beauty.

full of joy. new friendships made. new memories shared with old friends. i board the plane to travel back home fully confident, reminded of who I am: mom, human, friend, entertainment-lover, kindred spirit, seeker & child of God, helper, nature-lover. I was seated in the row with two children each traveling alone. I helped get their bags from the overhead compartment. I played angry birds on the iphone with them. I helped a boy who had a headache and “full” ears. I flagged down flight attendants to get warm compresses. it came full circle…

Even with my children miles away. I AM a mom.

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