A follow up letter after my open letter to my electronic friends who gathered in Texas:
My dear readers, BabyLoves and I went to Texas for the Edel Gathering. We made it there and back. Together. Attached by the sling, as it were. The weekend was lovely, truly lovely, for so many reasons. It was, in many parts, whatever the attendee made of it. If you wanted private time to ponder, think, and just breathe, there was that available without the rigors of a jam-packed schedule. If you wanted to chat it up with new friends, hit Austin together, hang by the pool, there was that.
If you were me and rooming with a very old friend whom you hadn't seen in six years, and had your two month old in tow, you would probably do what I did: rest and hang by the hotel. In between sessions I had to head back to the room to rest. Given that it took me almost 7 weeks to recover from bebe's epic birth, I should have known I'd be beat up by travel. Good thing there was lots of chocolate around.
I didn't see any of Austin, except the Cathedral for confession and mass. And we're okay with that, me & the bebe. I didn't get to the pool. I didn't get to the outside restaurants. I didn't get to the late night fun talks with ladies. I didn't even get to see the amazing karaoke past 10pm. A little person attached to me had had enough falling asleep in the sling, being jolted awake, and falling back asleep.
In a way, I felt left out voluntarily. I missed opportunities to really meet everyone. I didn't get to do things I would have if I hadn't had my tiny bambino and postpartum energy level. But it was good because my approach was one of real openness without an agenda.
What I did get to do was listen. I reconnected with my old friend. I embraced and met in person my dear blogging buddies. And I listened to BabyLoves laugh so many times because I was simply a fully accessible mother to my little 10 week old. Usually he's hushed and shushed and bouncing around in the sling while I chase after his four year old brother and two year old sister, wiping bottoms, separating tantrums, and doling out dinner. This weekend, he was an only child and me a woman with both ears available to listen.
While listening to the beautiful introductions and talks done by Jenny from Mama Needs Coffee, Hallie from Moxie Wife, Marion from wish-she-had-a-blog, Haley from Carrots for Michaelmas, and of course, Jen from Conversion Diary--Jen's mom, aunts, and uncle helped and were awesome--I got to smile and coo with my second son. I got to breastfeed without covering up, in a room full of mothers with their babies either inside or outside the womb. I got to soak up the support and love and roars of tears we shared over our different, but convergent paths.
Lest you think we just talked about mothering, blogs, and our husbands, I'll have you know one of my favorite writers and now real-life-friends rocked my world with rapping along to a song I didn't know (because you know how ignorant of normal culture we are around here, just classical music & kids' music), and when she did the robot dance, and dropped the hot mic, wearing her rockin' vintage dress, the crowd went crazier than a sorority at pledge week (not that I actually know about it, but may have crashed a party during college, thanks to my college roommate, MTB).
I met women who were grandmothers and women who were single. Women who were moms of 6 and women pregnant with their first. I met some sweet ladies from Minnesota (woot woot!) and others from all across the country. And when Jen Fulwiler told us that we were busting open the doors of the cathedrals we were individually building, in isolation, and streaming into each other's to help with the work, I thought: Hell, yes.
So please, start a blog so I can get to know you, too, gentle reader. And know you're not alone in your path of womanhood. I got your back, and a couple hundred Catholic women have mine, so you're covered.