Retreat season is approaching. I loved silent retreats in college but let them pass by for the first four years of motherhood. It's so hard to slip away for a weekend or long weekend alone with Our Lord. If mothers could leave behind the household and the kids that easily, we'd all be a lot more refreshed, accomplished in our hobbies, and well-traveled. It takes enormous preparation, sacrifice by the whole family, and a giant leap of faith to commit to a retreat.
I finally went last spring. Quite simply, it rekindled the flame of my love for Christ, like a honeymoon. It wasn't a "mountaintop" emotional experience; it wasn't even particularly emotional. It was short few days to focus soberly and gratefully and joyfully on our Love and His plan for my life. Lavish (even for an extrovert), to devote three days to complete silence, solitude with myself and God, punctuated by guided meditations, spiritual reading, reception of the Sacraments, prayer, walking and thinking and listening in God's creation. My retreat was conducted by Opus Dei at Murray Hill Conference Center in Manhattan. Non-city retreats are at least as great.
And AH YES, it was so physically refreshing to have three days off from taking care of children and the household, to eat great meals that I didn't cook, and to sleep through the night.
So, this is a quick plug and encouragement to begin looking at the December-May calendar and focusing in on some retreat dates. Brainstorm ways that family members and friends could be called upon to help your loving family survive the weekend without you. Lent can be a great time to go. Or is there a time to go after weaning the current baby before the next one arrives? Or bring baby along? Set aside some money, tithe or otherwise. Pray through the details. Again, I say this humbly, after missing retreats for several years and then finally returning to rediscover what a gift they are.