This post will be about a women’s retreat I just returned home from. 
A running** retreat. 

Wait, stay with me here.

** Disclaimer- I am, ahem…a slow runner. You’re not gonna see a lady flying gracefully when you see me run. Nope. You’re gonna see a regular mom who is probably running like a bat out of hell from her laundry room, then sneaking out the door and away from the incessant needy calls from her kids. It’s my therapy. Always has been, always will be. I started about 18 years ago walking around my block and I’m still going strong- to the tune of ten marathons and counting. Left foot. Right foot. Repeat. Stay out of the looney bin. Keep the kids alive. #lifegoals
I took a huge leap of faith this weekend and traveled to a running retreat for mothers. It was hosted by Another Mother Runner, an online community of mother runners. I flew almost 3,000 miles to spend three days with over 50 total strangers, and though I have interacted with the AMR community online and have written for their website, it would be the first time I would be around this amazing tribe of women IRL. Like IN REAL LIFE ya’ll. Scary! Even for someone like me, who is easily able to open up to people through my writing, IRL is a whole different animal.
So I put my big girl panties on, packed my running shoes, and headed way out west to find my people. I went in search of my tribe of women who would serve as my mom battery charger- the inspirational jumper cables I could hook up to my dead spiritual battery so to speak.

They did not disappoint. 

Because sparks people. BIG. SPARKS!  Everywhere I looked.

Here’s the thing about the mother runner community and the kind of women they are.

They start out as strangers, and in five minutes become your long lost best friend.

They GET you. Period. They get that you are juggling a million balls in the air, and struggle to find not only a mom/work/life balance, but one in which it’s also OK to make yourself a priority, and to put your health and mental wellness FIRST.

They come in all body shapes and sizes, all ages, backgrounds, and ethnicities. They are in every different season of life, some mothering toddlers, some struggling with teens, some doting on grandchildren. They are married, divorced, single, separated. But put them all in running shoes, give them some coffee, say “Go!” and the conversations, laughter, and smiles are nearly impossible to suppress.

Some run fast, some slow, some walk, and some absolutely soar, but there is an unspoken rule that pace and performance just doesn’t matter. There is no judgment at the start line. Zero. It’s all about showing up and covering the miles at your own pace. 
And what a metaphor for life that truly is.
I don’t know what personal battles they are fighting in their life, their running motivation, or the reasons they lace up their shoes in the dark on Saturday mornings, and quite honestly, I don't need to know. Because when we gather together and start moving forward, it no longer becomes about all the burdens and stresses that weigh us down, but more about how all of those things magically fall off while we run.
My wish for you as a woman and a mother is for you to seek out your mother support tribe, any kind, any type, and anywhere. Find them wherever they are, doing whatever mutual passion you share, and then join them.

I am grateful for all the different mother tribes I am in, including the one here on 4boysmother. You all are one of my tribes! But I hope after you read this, you will begin to put yourself first, and you will look high and low for your mother tribe. 

Don’t be shy. 

Step out of your comfort zone and go find your people, because your people are waiting for you, I promise.

10 Things Moms of Teen Boys Must Know

My favorite blog post last year came from a kindred spirit, and someone I truly believe is living the same life as me, albeit just a few years behind.  Rita Templeton, also a mom of four boys, and blogger over at Fighting Off Frumpy wrote an absolutely hilarious piece titled "10 Things Boy Moms Must Know"  As I read each point  I literally found myself yelling out “AMEN! Yes! Preach it mama! TRUTH!”  and when it ended at number 10, I slumped in my chair. Keep going! You have only scaled the tip of the testosterone iceberg!   Then it hit me- she hasn’t experienced the teenage boy. Well holy AXE spray, zit cream, and hairy legs, I. AM. THERE.  I am treading water in the teen angst cesspool (also known as their bedroom) desperately gasping for sanity,  in male adolescent hormone infested waters. Waters that run deep, wide, smart-mouthed, and scruffy chinned. Where dirty boxer shorts,  crumbled up and forgotten homework assignments,  lost ear buds, sweaty socks, and junk food wrappers are forever afloat. Unfortunately, these waters do not come with a lifeboat. (Honestly, I don’t need a lifeboat, I need a pressure washer and a bullhorn but we will get to that in a sec.) Don’t get me wrong, my teenagers are great kids, they do well in school, are witty, empathetic, amusing, and are actually growing into really cool adults. But there are minutes, days, sometimes weeks where I -in teen terms-  like, TOTES. CAN’T. EVEN.  wrap my mind around their behavior. 

I wish someone would have told me...........

1. Everything will smell.

Their car. Their closet. Their bathroom. Their bedroom. The hallway that leads to their room. It will be a funky, sweaty, noxious, musty, foul, deodorant soap covered perspiration,  “I am no longer a little boy” type of odor. No candle, plug in, floral spray, or wax melt comes even close to touching it,  so stop trying. When they move out, painting the room and replacing the carpet may help. (MAY.)

2. They will suddenly want to wash their own sheets. 

They will bounce down the stairs with all of their bedding wrapped up in a tiny ball, duck into the laundry room,  and out of nowhere suddenly want to start the washing machine with no help.  Don’t ask. Don’t help. Don’t acknowledge. Move on mom. This doesn’t involve you. Just a boy and his dreams.

3. There is no frustration greater than teaching the male brain how to drive.

I’m almost done teaching my second son how to drive. I’ve got chewed up cuticles, severe hair loss, and a prescription to reduce heart palpitations to prove it. No matter how cautious, careful, and smart of a driver they appear to be, and even with mom riding shotgun, dents will happen. So will things like, “Does yellow happen before or after green?” and "Is 65 the FASTEST I can go?" Shoot. Me. Now.

4. When not sleeping, they are eating.

Ever wake up at 3 am to what sounds like raccoons in your kitchen digging through the garbage for food?  Folks at Costco finally give you your own parking spot up front? Then you get it. I live in  “Never Enough Burritos” land.  Someone please invent a pepperoni pizza patch that I can slap on their arms that will offer 24 hour continuous nourishment. 

5. When not eating, they are sleeping.

Never, ever, EVER did I think when I had a house full of babies that woke everyday before sunrise that I would ever sleep in again.  But teens? They SLEEP THE HELL IN!!  Like until NOON. Comatose almost. Not gonna lie, it’s freakin' awesome. Awesome until they have to wake up at the crack of dawn, like, say, for school. Then you are totally screwed.  Invest in a bullhorn, and pray for Saturdays. 

6. They will take risks.

Big ones. Mind numbing ones.  Risks that your shy, overly cautious, hesitant little boy would never take.  (Personally, I think the part of the brain that kept him wary and watchful is now controlled by images of boobies and butts, but who knows.)  Basically, boy brains are fearless, reckless, and sense zero consequence. If you’ve ever uttered the words  “Not my kid” take it back. Take it back right effing NOW. Trust me.

6. They think they know everything. 

Yes, that cliche is true, and they will actually say this to your  face. I literally recorded mine saying it to me. Even he laughed.  This brazen way of thinking must  somehow be a survival mechanism. Perhaps if they had an authentic grasp of adulthood and what real life will throw at them someday, they may not even want to reach 18. Let’s just allow them to keep thinking they know everything. Why ruin the party?

8.  They will not want to hug much anymore. 

Like ever. But keep trying. You will become the physical form of kryptonite, and when they see you with your arms outstretched they may run away in horror. Keep trying anyway. Because out of the blue one day they will toss their arm around your shoulder and give a squeeze, a grin, and say “I love you mom.” (It may only occur when your trunk is full of Doritos and Cheez-Whiz but hey, take what you can get.) They may seem aloof and un-wanting of your affection, but don’t believe it. They want it. Hug when and if you can.

9.  Showers. All day. Every day.

Go ahead and buy the low flow shower head on their 13th birthday, as it will save you about $500 a year. Kids you previously had to  beg, bribe, and literally chase down and throw into the shower now spend one fourth of their entire day in there. And yet, still #1.  Washing diligently? Probably not, but just don’t be that mom who knocks and cracks an embarrassing joke. Just don’t. 

10. You thought your newborn grew overnight?  You won’t believe these spurts. 

The mere fact that these boys that I have to crane my neck and look UP to now used to fit in the football hold under my arm is mind boggling. But it happens. And it does so at warp speed.  They will go to bed one night with the voice of a Vienna Choir boy and walk out the next morning Pavarotti. Pants that one day you have to roll up will be capris the next. We have skipped three whole shoe sizes at one time. Must have something to do with #4. In the blink of an eye you will go from holding the soft padded hands of a little boy to holding a hand that feels like your husband’s.  Your boys will become men right before your eyes. And if you must know ONE thing, it’s pretty darn cool raising men.