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The Care & Feeding of Moms

Photograph by Getty Images

Recently, I’ve been feeling overwhelmed. Working 25 hours per week from home, trying to be a thoughtful and present partner to my husband and of course, being mommy to our four young girls. Because one of our daughters has the double whammy of cerebral palsy and epilepsy she requires meds twice a day plus emergency meds in case of a breakthrough seizure; my conscious and unconscious mind are always on-call. Well-intentioned people (who don’t know me well) will comment, "You just need to find time for yourself, to relax." The uncertainty of Mimi’s seizures makes this literally impossible.

Even sleep is not a respite; the nature of Mimi’s seizures is that they usually come in the middle of the night and are prolonged (having lasted for over an hour-and-a-half), stopping only when the aforementioned emergency medicine is administered. My husband, 15-year-old daughter and I take turns sleeping with Mimi, always on the ready.

I find humor, especially inappropriate humor, to be a HUGE distraction; the dirtier the joke, the better. And if there’s a clever way to include a reference to poop, I will be howling. My sense of humor is that of a geeky 14-year-old boy, so my two teenage daughters and I laugh a lot together. This is the greatest gift that my daughters give to me—the gift of us laughing together.

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Recently however, my knack for mothering was waning; I was short(er) tempered, and feeling absent, even when I was with my kids. Some piece of the puzzle that makes up my person was missing. Some spiritual pond in my soul was running low and needed to be refilled and recharged. The laughter I share with my children is so precious, but there was something else that I needed, too.

And then it happened, in my childhood home of Boston. Between emails with my friend Peter, I booked a flight to Boston. I needed to be there to reconnect with not only Peter, but also with my best friends from childhood—many who live in Boston or within a few hours’ drive.

I realized that this was the pond that was so low in my spirit—being with the friends whom I’ve known since we were all kids, friends who know the backstory to our now adult lives.

My mother-in-law (who is a nurse and more protective over our kids than my husband and I), was happy to come and help with the girls. I knew Mimi would be in excellent hands and I could truly enjoy, undistracted, my golden weekend away.

I was so busy up until my early morning departure, and so excited to see my friends, in the city that I love most dear, that I absentmindedly (at 4:30 a.m.) packed for the weekend one pair of pants, two shirts, three pairs of underwear and one shoe (not shoes, as in pair, just shoe) leaving myself only the bra, shoes and sweater I wore on the plane, for the three days. I just wanted to get there!

That little piece within me that had gone empty was refueled—full up with love and laughter from friends I know best and hold so dear.

Somehow, in those precious few days in Boston, I managed to slip in visits to my four best friends from childhood (whom I hadn’t seen since we gathered together to celebrate our 40th birthdays five years ago), my best friend from college (whom I hadn’t seen in seven years), friends from my first job in Boston’s Back Bay (whom I hadn’t seen in 20 years) and one of my dearest friends’ mother and sister (who feel like my own family and I adore).

We laughed and caught up and told stories and ate lots of lobster (three lobster rolls in three days, plus an 8-pounder to bring home), laughed some more, and cried a little. Time passes; most things get better with age, but some become more difficult. When we were in our early 20s, the life ahead of us stretched out, sparkling and gleaming in youthful optimism. Twenty years later, a few clouds have snuck in, but there are still far more sunny days than gray ones. That little piece within me that had gone empty was refueled—full up with love and laughter from friends I know best and hold so dear.

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Sunday evening, I stood outside of the baggage claim at the airport waiting for my husband to pick me up. The airport was surprisingly busy, but through the mass of cars creeping along the arrivals pick-up lanes, I saw our SUV coming toward me. My oldest daughter in the front passenger seat held a homemade sign out of the window that read, “We Missed You, Mommy!” The car pulled up alongside me, and loud laughs and cheers spilled from the open windows—all the kids and even the two dogs were in the car.

I dove into the back seat to give and receive kisses and licks (from the dogs)—I was smothered in love and so happy to be home and be a mommy once more.

Warm Lobster Rolls

Forget mayo, warm butter on lobster meat is so ridiculously good. Toasting the bun is key.

Ingredients

Two split-top hot dog buns (if you can get them, otherwise, 2 good quality rolls)

6 tablespoons butter (or more, if desired)

2 heaping cups lobster meat (from 2, 1- to 1/2-pound lobsters)

3 green onions (scallion), sliced thinly

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Sea, or kosher (or even better, truffle) salt, to taste

Directions

1. Brush buns with butter and toast. Set aside.

2. Warm remaining butter in a sauté pan and add in lobster meat and green onion. Toss to coat meat with butter and just warm through. Sprinkle on lemon juice, toss again, then taste and add salt of choice.

3. Pile lobster into buns and serve at once.

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