That right there is most certainly the picture of two very happy mamas. Why? Well because, as I’ve come to discover, finding the time to hang with your girlfriends — just you and your girlfriends — is just as important after you have babies (maybe even more so?) as it was before.
I say this as someone who waited almost three full years after becoming a mom to do so.
Carla and I began planning for this past weekend’s trip to Nashville in February, and it was everything I could have dreamed of and more. Besides the fact that Nashville itself is adorable (which pretty much everyone knows by now, but I had never been before), I got to remember what it was like to travel on my own (no screaming babies!), to sleep through the night, to have an uninterrupted conversations, to dress up and do my hair and stay out past 7 p.m.
Listen — it’s not that you can’t do those things as a mom as well, it’s just that they are harder, oh so much harder. This trip was such a nice reminder that I can have my separate life as a friend and leave my babies for a couple days, then come back home and slide right back into our life and everything is totally okay.
Chris had a great time on his own with the girls, as well. So you know, it was basically a win-win!
Lucky for me, Carla is an amazing travel planner (we were roommates in college our freshman year, but we also traveled abroad to Germany and Salzburg together, so I already knew we were a good travel match), and she sent me an email about a week before we met up with a tentative itinerary, complete with reservations she had made and tickets for a show that she had already purchased. The thing is, she was also way flexible if I wanted to make any changes to her proposed plan, but why would I when I knew that whatever she suggested was bound to be great? Plus, it was super lucky that she had made reservations at the places she knew we might want to hit up since, low-and-behold, not only was it the Nashville Marathon on the same weekend, but the NFL draft, as well, which brought 200,000 people to downtown Nashville.
I was expecting this revelation — which I only found out about three days before leaving — to put a real damper on the trip, but honestly, it had little to no impact. Where we stayed (the Kimpton at first, then, after Carla left, the Hyatt House) wasn’t anywhere near the main drag where the draft was taking place, so we were never bothered.
Instead, we planned our days around food, pool hangs, drinks and live music … and it was a splendid experience.
^^ Our first stop on Friday night was The Mockingbird, where we drank rum and punch in a bag, sat outside, watched allllll the bachelorette buses go by and caught up for a couple hours.
We didn’t stay out too late Friday, since Saturday was a busy one, starting with coffee by the hotel pool and brunch at Husk, which included shrimp and grits (the JMU college girl inside of me was so happy they had that on the menu!), biscuits and bloody mary’s.
After Husk we walked down the main drag where the draft was happening and the marathon was finishing up. It was early enough that it wasn’t too crowded yet, and it was actually fun to take part in something that so many people were so excited about. We walked around and soaked it all in, then did a little bit of shopping before heading back to the hotel.
^^ How I refrained from buying these for Lotte, I’ll never know.
After some more lounging by the pool (and an afternoon snack and coffee at Caviar & Bananas) we headed off to dinner at Rolf & Daughters. I knew I would love it there when the evening started with a drink menu theme of ‘things you would say after you won the lottery’. The drink I picked (you love me, you really love me) was good, but the food was even better.
You might think that by this point I’d be getting full, but really, I’m pretty good at eating 😉 Especially when it comes to pasta, I can really dig in for quite a while before I need to slow down. It’s something to see.
After dinner we headed to The Listening Room Cafe to watch three performers. The three guys sat on stage with their guitars and belted out everything from country to hip hop to rap to R&B. And they were really good, but at one point they brought a college girl up on the stage to perform just one song, and she just blew everyone away. Seriously, it was a standing ovation for this girl, which made me so happy for her.
Carla left Nashville on Sunday, but not before breakfast at The Row Kitchen & Pub. Although it was too early for me to order a bloody mary (stupid laws), the beignets and breakfast were fantastic.
After Carla left, I walked over to my new (cheaper!) hotel, had a little rest and then hit up 12South, a sweet little section of Nashville that has tons of restaurants and shops (including Reese Witherspoon’s Draper James) and, of course, murals. All the murals.
I didn’t know much about the murals before going to Nashville, but it’s a thing. People will stand in line for an hour to take a selfie at the mural that Taylor Swift commissioned. Luckily I didn’t have to wait in any lines. People were taking photos of these murals, but they must not have been the really popular ones, because for the most part, I could walk right up and shoot.
Lunch on Sunday was at Taqueria del Sol, where I ordered a marguerita, the trio of salsas, a fish taco and a veggie one, and sat outside on their deck watching all the people go by. The weather was gorgeous, and I so rarely get alone time these days, I didn’t even mind having lunch to myself which, I’ll admit, would normally make me feel somewhat self-conscious.
Back at the hotel, I called it an early night with a glass of wine and cable (which we don’t have). My flight left around 2 on Monday, but I had time to walk to Hillsboro Village and get breakfast and coffee at Fido first.
In the end, this trip had it all. Catching up with an old friend. Good food and drink and music. Down time. Pool time. Fantastic weather. And even some alone time tacked on at the end, too. I came home yesterday feeling refreshed and rejuvenated and ready to join back up with these amazing peeps of mine …
The heart just melts, am I right? Because being away helps us realize all that we have right at home.
And for me, there’s a lot to be thankful for.
Bis bald, friends.