As a new mom, let’s be honest…I have been trying to “fake it til I make it” a lot. There are some things that come naturally, but there are a lot of things that don’t. In the first six months of my son’s life, I have felt like a clumsy, sweaty teenager trying to play the role of a confident mom. And I’m not a very good actor. At first, I was afraid of people seeing my insecurities and mistakes…even possibly concluding that I was a…gasp!…bad mom. But the more I share with other women, the freer I feel. It seems like moms are in this place where they can give each other a high five for admitting the day sucked or that they would give anything for a quiet room and a cold glass of wine. The more honest I am about my experience, the more I am giving another woman the opportunity to see herself in me and say “girrrl, I’ve been there.”

Last weekend, I went on a yoga retreat up in the mountains of Pennsylvania. Three days of yoga, meditation, healthy meals, mountain biking, and…wait for it…sleeping through the night! It was difficult to give myself permission to go and even hard to let go once I got there. I was thinking: “Your son is only 6 months old and you’re already on a mini-vacation. Isn’t that selfish? A good mom wouldn’t do that.” But with the help of a supportive husband, I told my inner guilt trip to bug off.

   By giving myself permission to take this break, I was able to reconnect with what is important to me.  On some days at home, I feel like a whirling Tazmanian Devil cyclone racing through daily tasks: feed the baby-change the baby-work-work-work-race to the daycare-make dinner!  During the retreat, I slowed down and rejuvenated myself so that when I returned home, I could do things with purpose and love.  Although–let’s not get too corny–I don’t think I will ever change a dirty diaper with purpose and love.

The most important thing I found during this trip was a group of other women of all different ages, some moms and some not, who could act like a mirror for me.  No matter how similar or different our lives were, we all shared the same basic dreams: to be loved, to be great at something, to be happy.  And we also shared all of the same basic fears: that we would not reach our dreams.  My girl, Joyce, shared a fitting quote: “We are all wonderful, beautiful wrecks.  That’s what connects us–that we’re all broken, all beautifully imperfect.”  I felt okay revealing that I felt like a sweaty teenager trying to act like a great mom because these women were so open about smiling, nodding, and saying: “girrrl, I’ve been there!”

When I got home, I am sure my husband and son appreciated the calmer, more blissful me.  I’m always going to have those days that I whiz through things.  But taking time for myself and reaching out to a community of supportive, empathetic women helped me to refocus, laugh at my mistakes, and appreciate the moment.