I spent Friday through Sunday night at a women’s retreat somewhere in Iowa (I really did not care where I just needed to get away and actually never knew where we were the whole weekend).

It was a few months back in part due to the winter blues but also greatly just feeling a heaviness and lack of joy that I talked seriously with Jason about needing to get away from everything even if just for a day or so and just be me, not wife, mother but just me. I had never been away from Annikah for more than a day in 18 months (plus 10 if you count pregnancy :). Jason saw that I needed it and we looked for an opportunity that was inexpensive and sounded fun. We also wanted Jason to be able to really know he could solely take care of Anni for more than a day and secretly I felt that many of our arguments and continuing discussions would cease if he really knew how much goes into caring for a toddler by yourself for hours a day.

My friend Nicole told me that she and some other mama friends of mine were going to a scrap booking retreat in early March. My immediate outloud response was “I’d rather slit my wrists than scrapbook for an entire weekend.” I realize that may sound harsh but seriously scrap booking? But after some convincing and the fact that the entire weekend was only 85 dollars and I would be able to join 3 other fabulous women on a road trip and weekend away I was convinced. So I attended a scrap booking retreat and did not bring one photo, one book, did no cutting, gluing, and never even used one of the many bizarre tools that to me often resembled instruments of torture. Nope, I sat and talked, read, snacked, wrote some presentation material, and a complied a PowerPoint for an upcoming seminar I am teaching. It was a relaxing and much needed time for me. I did not make or clean up one meal, change one diaper, clean anything (except myself:), or run any errands.

I went for a long run and a trail ride although my extremities were not appreciative of those activities. Mostly though I had time to think, reflect, and discuss with other women this stage of life. I am so thankful for friends, for laughing so hard you have to pee, for inappropriate but hilarious stories, for vulnerability, for honesty, for God’s forgiveness, His healing in my life and the lives of others, His provision and gifts to me and my family, His wisdom in giving me Jason as a partner who is so amazingly perfect for me and helps me grow, and for my life and each moment.

After the 5 hour drive home we arrived back in Chicago and I felt refreshed and so excited to see my baby girl and Jason. I wanted to express to him how thankful I was for this chance to get away and of all he does for our family and I could not wait to squeeze my monkey girl! Of course, I also wanted to know all the details of his time alone with Annikah. I must admit a part of me wanted Anni to have at least one meltdown, one crisis, one blow-out so Jason could relate.
As soon as I hot the hallway of our condo I could hear Anni squealing in delight and saying “Mama.” She looked so different from just 2 days ago and her little hug melted me. Jason told me in great detail everything he had done that weekend and then asked me to read a blog entry he had written while Anni napped Sunday reflecting on his time as Mr. Dad. After reading his words I placed my head in my hands and cried, it was what I needed. I was again so thankful to be understood in small ways, to feel appreciated for everything I do as a wife and mother especially when I feel like many days it is not enough. I know Jason loves and appreciates me but him taking care of Anni all weekend and then taking time to write his feelings out helped remind me that he is an awesome husband and father for which I am truly grateful. That was a perfect ending to a weekend where I really rediscovered that I am enough, God loves me the way I am and with all I bring to motherhood. He wants to teach me, sharpen me, use me, guide me, challenge me, humble me, hold me, but He loves me regardless of anything. While my above harsh statement about scrap booking for an entire weekend remains true I feel that this non scrap-booker received many gifts at the scrap booking retreat.


  1. Anonymous says:

    What a great post from Jason. You are both so special, and little Anni is lucky to have such great parents. Glad you had a great, relaxing time. If you missed her for two days, I don’t know how I will be abloe to stand 2 years.:(

  2. Anonymous says:

    Ok – Jason Engstrom makes up the best words ever! Microwavation! He is soooooo the bomb tumbler… as I write this Stan is picking up the remote with his toes while holding a sleeping Fred, stating “I’m awesome”. Is there some ridiculous husband/father manual I missed that teaches these boys to come up with such hilarious comments? wonderful posts by both.

  3. Anonymous says:

    And we are famous, as the top pic of your post is featured in the brochure for November’s scrapbooking retreat!!! Ironic, since 1 of the people in the photo never scrapbooked! I’m SO glad we all had a great time away!!!

  4. Anonymous says:

    This was a beautiful post, Rox. Thanks for sharing. And you ARE a wonderful mother, and you work very very hard to be just that. It is plenty, and an inspiration to all of us šŸ™‚

  5. Anonymous says:

    So great that you were able to take a much-needed girls’ weekend away, Rox. And you didn’t even have to scrapbook–bonus!Love the picture of the four of you.