This is the story of how I felt beloved (and not) this past weekend.
Many of you have heard me blabber about the Edel Gathering, a conference for Catholic women giving us the opportunity to “refresh, connect and enjoy” as women of God. It was a weekend I’d been looking forward to for a long time. A very, very long time.
Tonight reminded me that the Catholic Church is full of beautiful, faithful, unique and really funny women. #edel14
— Kathryn Whitaker (@kwhitaker96) July 26, 2014
There were the table centerpieces for Friday and Saturday evening that I created. Those things were a blast to design. Even when I was sweating from steaming off all the beer bottle labels (because helloooo, Catholic women love their beer), I was smiling because I knew the weekend had all the makings to be fabulous.
There were the awesome women who I convinced to stay at my house. Bonnie, Alisha, Deme and Susan (and Joey!) made the best roommates. As Scott said just before the weekend, “So, let me get this straight. All the women staying at our house you’ve never met.” Yup. I mean, they existed in my computer so I knew they were totally legit. And they were.
We even took babies. To a bar. Surely Reece Witherspoon would be proud.
There were the promises of hugs from old friends, sweet blog readers and trusted women of faith. We made good on that promise.
There was Tex-Mex and BBQ to be eaten. Friday Night Lights film locations to visit. Sonic happy hour. A Capitol to adore. Check, check, check and check.
There were thought-provoking, humorous, lovely speakers. Massages. Makeup consultations. Beautiful jewelry. A quiet mother’s lounge. Killer swag bags. Lively conversation. It was all just so beautiful, except this.
Gianna had one of her seizures halfway through the Saturday afternoon festivities. And, y’all. I checked out. In the midst of my beautiful conversations and warm hugs, fancy dresses and time away from the crazy, my sweet two-month-old got my attention. There I was, in the stunning Capitol Ballroom at the Omni Hotel, sitting beneath a lovely chandelier and surrounded by some Catholic women who inspire me and Gianna freaked out. I caught the eye of her Godmother and Susan, who was sitting next to me, grabbed my arm. I took a deep breath and just focused on inhaling and exhaling and cuddling my sweet baby.
Shortly after, one of our speakers began talking and I just had to get out of that ballroom. Out. I managed to make it to the hallway, find a chair and dial Scott’s cell number before those tears hit my eyes.
Dammit God. You knew what this weekend meant to me. You knew how badly I needed this community. You knew my heart.
And then I hung up with Scott and had to laugh at the irony. Yes, God did know that and look at the 200+ women he put in my path. All there to support and laugh with one another. It reminded me that sometimes I need to look up from the pity party to see the beauty around me.
A group of us then walked downstairs to the hotel bar and just chilled. Me with my fancy Dr Pepper and them with their not-so-fancy, but very tasty, Austin beers. The rest of my evening was spent in one-on-one conversations with a few ladies, some pretty darn good hotel Tex-Mex, a half eaten apple empanada and a hell-raising speech by Jennifer Fulwiler. While the ballroom was rocking with Kelly’s karaoke version of Flo Rida’s “Good Feeling” and mommas dancing with babies in Ergos, I was content to nurse a baby in peace, call it an early night and head back to the casa with my housemates.
We enjoyed some laughs, some Blue Bell and lots of hugs.
My Edel experience is probably vastly different than the carefree dance party, the crazy shoe contest and the relaxing massages and makeup consults of other women. But perhaps God just wanted me to sit my a$$ down, relish in the hallway conversations and just be. My pace was different. My station in life required it. And that’s okay. This year, it was just good that I was here, in all my imperfections, right Hallie?
The words from the loving Dominican Sister, Sr. Elizabeth Ann, in her letter to us on Saturday evening summed up my weekend oh so beautifully.
Thank you for the gift of self you give that no one sees, no one appreciates, no one recognizes, and no one seems to care about. God sees. God knows. God cares. I want you to know that our Sisters “see” and care, too. Now, we don’t see everything, of course, but we see a lot, perhaps more than you realized. And we are inspired by you.
As I dropped off the last of my house guests at the airport, I drove home feeling at peace. Feeling thankful. Feeling renewed. This weekend afforded me the rare treat of having one-on-one conversations with so many women. My soul desperately needed not only their wisdom, but their counsel, their faithful attitude, their friendship and their honest hearts. Something happened to me this weekend and it can only be from the Holy Spirit.
Gals, we aren’t floating on this island of motherhood alone. You didn’t have to attend Edel to know that you are beloved, honored, revered and supported. Raise a Dr Pepper with the mom next to you and let’s get to it, shall we?