This past weekend was "Girls' Weekend Away". Once a year all the Stewart girls pack their bags and leave husbands, kids, dogs and all motherly and wifely responsibilities behind to spend a weekend together - reconnecting as friends and sisters and mother and daughters. This was the first year that there was a daughter-in-law/sister-in-law to add to the tradition - one who fits in to our family so well, that it's hard to remember sometimes that she wasn't actually born into it. And there were two babes-in-arms - the breastfeeders in the family who are too dependent on their moms to be left behind, but there were many arms to share the load and they were a joy to have along. We rented two adjoining rooms in a hotel in Cambridge, just off the 401, close to the fabric mill outlet for the sewers in the family, and not too far from St. Jacobs to be able to hit the farmers' market on Saturday morning.
We had a ball - eating meals together, spending money, saving money, celebrating Christy's birthday with ice-cream cake on Saturday night, missing our husbands and the boys, swimming, and hot-tubbing, and shopping til we dropped.
It wasn't all fun and games, though. There were a few tense moments when childhood rivalries and misunderstandings surfaced. On Saturday night, the bed I was sharing with Jorie, was suddenly empty. As the youngest of six sisters and sister-in-law she can be subjected to a lot of well intentioned ideas and as to how she should live life - based on others' experience. She was gone too long to be just making one more trip to the bathroom so I went looking for her in the dark. There she was curled up in the bathtub with a pillow, planning to spend the night there, I suppose, to get away from the rest of us with all our opinions and advice.
I coaxed her back into bed with me and as soon as her sisters caught on to how she was feeling, they rallied around in the darkness and comforted, supported and explained to her that they love her and just want her to learn from their mistakes - they didn't mean to hurt her or make her feel like she couldn't make good decisions on her own! She went to sleep feeling much better. We all did.
It was actually a very poignant moment, one I hope I never forget. An example of sisterly love at its best.
There were other difficult and sometimes emotion-charged moments - when one sister asked another not to use a certain word in a certain context because it caused pain. Or when someone questioned the decisions another had made and caused hurt feelings there.
I was thinking later that it could have been a perfect weekend with no hurt feelings, no moments of frustration, no rubbing together of rough edges. But at the same time, all that jostling together brought things to the surface that could be tackled and we all grew together - as individual women, and as a family - and we wouldn't have it any other way.
I love my girls and I love spending time with them. They sure don't live on the surface of life, but are willing to go right to the depths - to learn about themselves and each other and to grow in God. We are so blessed.