After serving seven-and-a-half years of home confinement, I was released on February 5, 2011. You read this correctly. Until this particular Saturday, I hadn’t been away from my children overnight since the day they were born.
Electronic tracking kept people informed of my whereabouts (thank you, Facebook), such as at Kroger, Target, and on occasion, Charleston Town Center. Email and text messages allowed me to chat with friends and family, but for the most part, no one had seen me in a long time. Was I a recluse? Not at all. I went out and did things, but my daughters were (and still are) almost always by my side. I simply didn’t have a motive to leave my children, and if we did travel, there was no reason why they couldn’t join us. Recently, though, I decided that my dear friend’s 40th birthday party at Café Cimino was justification to seek parole.
Let me be clear: No one told me I was grounded. This was self-imposed. I wanted to be with my children as often as possible, and if I needed a break from parenting, an hour in a bookstore cured what distressed me. This time, however, I got a little excited at the idea of buying a new cocktail dress and positively lethal stilettos, and celebrating with three women who have, without judgment, allowed me to be a distant friend. Mothers themselves, these “girls” have been accepting of me bowing out of beach trips and concerts, because they know being with my family makes me happy.
But something nagged at me. While I worked well with others, I honestly didn’t play well with others. I talked on the telephone and chatted with people at the store or at school, but that was it. So, I decided that it was important for me to step away from motherhood for a short while to enjoy my friends…and myself.
Café Cimino, a charming country inn overlooking the Elk River, was the perfect setting for a mother’s mini retreat. Exactly 66 miles from my own front door, I felt less anxious about being away in case something happened at home. It was strange to pull only one bag out of the car, since family vacations require me to take the show on the road. We were welcomed by the most lovable golden retriever ever bred, and shown to our blissfully quiet rooms by a gracious innkeeper who took care of us like a favorite aunt. And dinner? Spaghetti night was transformed into pasta with sun dried tomatoes, feta, garlic, basil, and pine nuts. It was a guilt-free weekend, even down to the dark chocolate cupcakes (and Cosmopolitans).
My “Sutton in the City” weekend was filled with roars of laughter and juicy conversations that lasted into the wee hours of the morning. It was so much fun getting all dolled up with my life’s versions of “Carrie”, “Miranda” and “Samantha” (yes, I’m a “Charlotte”). While it wasn’t my 40th birthday, I have to admit, it was the best present my friends could have given me.
And many more.