This weekend, Lulu and I went on retreat with our mother-daughter group, to the hostel in Point Reyes.
It was a glorious weekend.
The eight pairs of mothers and daughters formed from our homeschooling support group, back when the girls were eleven and twelve. A few of the girls have left the larger group to attend school, but our monthly meetings have helped us maintain our friendships.
We meet each month and explore different topics related to girls and growing up. This last year the girls decided that they wanted our meetings to be less structured and more fun–more of an opportunity for us mamas and our daughters to simply enjoy each other’s company.
We started planning the retreat almost a year-and-a-half ago. And was it easy to find a whole weekend in which sixteen busy mothers and daughters could get away? Nope. The organizing got so frustrating that we almost gave up.
I’m so glad we didn’t. We had such a wonderful weekend. The moms made breakfast on Saturday morning, and the girls cooked a fabulous pasta dinner. Weeks of rain magically cleared away on Saturday, and we had a gorgeous afternoon on the beach. The girls had a few (secret) activities and ceremonies planned, and there were giggles and shrieks and solemnity in equal measure as they were carried out.
Despite all of our scheduling difficulties, we had somehow managed to unknowingly schedule the trip during a full moon. On Saturday night the mothers planned a special full-moon ceremony for the girls. I hesitate to divulge too much, but at the same time, if sharing a bit of what we did might encourage other mothers to get a group like this together for their own girls, and to consider planning a special coming-of-age ceremony for them, I think it’s worth it.
Our ceremony involved having the girls take a one-mile hike in the dark, alone. They followed a trail we had marked earlier in the day. They didn’t bring flashlights–although the moon was so brilliant that they didn’t need them. Each girl began her hike a few minutes apart from the other girls. Each of us mothers were stationed along the trail, waiting with a flickering tea light. As each girl approached us in turn, we shared something we wanted to offer her as she journeys into womanhood: a poem, a story, a bit of insight. At the end of the trail, the girls met up and walked back to the trailhead together, where we mothers had gathered, waiting for them.
The ceremony turned out to be far more moving than I could have imagined. Waiting on the trail, the only sounds were frogs singing, a creek rippling and the waves of the Pacific. Then slowly the sound of footsteps approaching in the gravel would build, and a girl would appear in the dark, to hear your words and receive your hug. And then she would walk on and there would be silence again and in time more footsteps would come. After the last girl left me, I just stayed in my spot, watching the clouds shroud and then reveal the moon, basking in how grateful I felt to be in the presence of some absolutely lovely young women.
As we ate breakfast in the hostel kitchen on Sunday morning, another hostel visitor commented on how special it was that our girls, at fourteen and fifteen, seemed so happy to spend time with their mothers.
“They’re beautiful girls,” he said.
And they are beautiful. Inside and out. I’m still buzzing with how good it felt to take a weekend to celebrate that.