The second annual Rockin’ Mom Retreat, put on by Down Syndrome Diagnosis Network (DSDN), is now in the books. And oh, what a four days it was!

I could tell you about the speakers, who were awesome—and I will, in another post.

I could tell you about the service projects we did, which were fun and heartwarming—and I will, in another post.

I could tell you about the amazing massages we got at our pampering session—and I will, in another post.

But what I want to tell you about today is the incredible connection and emotional experience that is a Rockin’ Mom Retreat.

We all play roles in our real lives, right? Wife, mother, daughter, sister, teacher, advocate…the list goes on and on. But sometimes we need to shed those roles and just get to be ourselves, in a place where there’s no judgment or expectation, with people who have our back and are there to say “I love you” when we need a shoulder to cry on and “I’ll hold your hair” when we decide that it’s a good idea to indulge in more than a couple margaritas. (Not that I would know anything about that…ahem.)

The Rockin’ Mom Retreat is that for me. I have a few people in my life who I can really be myself and open up with: my husband, my two best friends, and a couple of close family members. But when I come to the retreat, I have an entire roomful of people I can do that with. For one glorious long weekend a year, I can let go of all stress and expectation, and just live. It’s amazing, and it’s refreshing, and it’s fulfilling.

For some people, the retreat is a place to relax quietly with a few moms. For others, it’s a safe place to really let go and have some good old-fashioned fun, knowing that nothing will happen because there are a hundred other mamas there to catch you when you stumble.

Because let me tell you about these moms. They are fierce. Some of them, like me, have the usual shared stresses of IEP meetings, inclusion fights, and the never-ending quest to encourage speech and potty-training. And some of them have to help their kids face heartbreaking medical challenges that no child or parent should ever have to face. And they do it with grace, courage, an iron will…and most of the time a smile, because the challenges are far outweighed by their indescribable love for their child.

Don’t tell these ladies they’re heroes, though, because they’ll quickly correct you. Their kids fighting these battles are the heroes; the mamas are just moms who love their children and will do anything for them. And for one weekend a year, they get to (mostly) set aside their worries and just exist in the safe bubble of the Rockin’ Mom world.

A mass of us took over a bar in Texas Saturday night, and I’m not sure the normal patrons entirely knew what to make of a swarm of partying Rockin’ Moms! But one patron declared, “Most of the women who come into this bar are fours, but y’all are TENS!” And he’s right—because in addition to the exterior beauty you see in these women’s faces, the internal beauty in each and every one of them radiates. Watch this slideshow, and you’ll quickly see what I mean.

I’ll leave you with this: Chicago, you better watch out! The Rockin’ Moms are coming to you in 2017, and there ain’t no party like a Rockin’ Mom party!!



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