Once a year, I wake up as a mid-30’s, mom of three who is well rested and surrounded by absolute silence. I am covered by the sheets of a king-sized bed that I have all to myself, I can roll over and flip through non-cartooned channels for as long as I want, someone else makes me breakfast… And cleans up after me.

Once a year, I take a “mental business trip” to restore my sanity, stock up on alone time, and pee in private.

This tradition started off on a horribly sad and tragic note, as I began setting aside this ME DAY in remembrance of my beloved mom, who passed away suddenly at the young age of 52. My mom and I were fiercely close to one another. We emailed dozens of times each day, spoke a minimum of two times per day (on the way TO and HOME from work), and shared countless texts to survive the 300+ miles that separated us. Since my early years of college, we had the tradition of having “mommy/ daughter slumber parties.” Ooooooooooh, I can hear the giggles now!! Late night pizza, all night talking, clearance rack clothes browsing, midnight scrapbooking, and sharing appetizers before enjoying a yummy meal. Just the two of us. Life was grand.

After her passing, this was one of the things I was most devastated to lose. The time away became something that I looked forward to over the years. It was a time to get away from reality and have a weekend reprieve to Just. Enjoy. Slow down, forget about work and worry, lock ourselves in a 48-hour temperature controlled cocoon of love and laughter. Sunday mornings always brought the sadness of knowing our wonderful weekend would soon be ending. The cloud of tears started early, and came to a final climax as we parted ways in the parking lot.

When my mom died, I thought our mother/ daughter weekends also died. Mathematically, that is what made sense. Then, I remembered I never really cared much for math anyway, and decided to get selfish. I would continue having mother/ daughter weekends. I would continue waking up on Sunday mornings in a hotel. It doesn’t happen often, but I’m grateful for once a year. 

In place of laughter, there is now silence. Instead of talking, there is now journaling and letter writing. I’ve traded in the late night pizza for solo wine and cupcakes. I’ve replaced hot tubbing in the public pool with upgrading to a King suite that includes an in-house whirlpool (thanks to my hubby and his Marriott points!!). It might seem lonely, but it truly is a symbolic night of remembering amazing moments, being thankful for the closeness that I felt – and continue to feel – to my mom, and for the signs and feelings that come my way as I check in for our mommy/ daughter weekend, solo. 

364 days out of the year, I carry on. I live. I laugh. I remember. But once a year, I allow myself the strength of going back to that awful night when I had to say goodbye. I allow myself the memories of how sweet it once was. I allow myself the grace of the many mistakes I’ve made in coping with my grief. I allow myself to celebrate the joy that I feel in my heart when I think of the signs she sends us. From rainbows at birthday parties, to the “just right” songs on the radio on the “just right” days.

Once a year, I have a mommy/ daughter slumber party. Even if I am technically in a room alone.