Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Triplet Mamas Take Nashville

This past weekend was the long awaited triplet moms getaway. For the past 2.5 years, I've been a member of a Facebook group for mothers of triplets born in 2013. The group has provided support, laughter, and advice during some very challenging moments of life with triplets. We began an annual weekend getaway almost two years ago. The first trip was in Chicago. I did not attend because of the expense with airfare, and the timing was the same weekend as the trio's first birthday. We began planning the second trip this past fall. There ended up being two trips this year. A group of 34 triplet moms attended a Vegas getaway last month and 15 of us spent this past weekend in Nashville.

While the fifteen of us had been chatting hourly (yes, hourly!) for weeks, none of us had ever actually met one another in person. Photos, messages, and the occasional videos gave me enough confidence that I knew these women. Still, that did not mean I wasn't nervous about spending the weekend with 14 women I'd never met.

I was able to carpool with Flora, another triplet mom in Charlotte. She'd relocated to another part of Charlotte a year ago and we had never met prior to the trip. To be perfectly honest, I didn't anticipate us having much in common, largely due to a big discrepancy in our income levels. That's such a judgmental statement for me to make, but when she texted me to "park behind the blue lexus" and warned me that the Range Rover only takes premium gas, I knew we weren't exactly in the same circle. I am so relieved to say that conversation was easy, our personalities meshed well, and there was never once an awkward silence in the 14 hours we spent together on the ride there and back. We left Friday morning and stopped at a Cracker Barrel in Knoxville for lunch.

We're not in NC anymore!
Flora and I were the last two to arrive. The reality of everyone's physical appearance, accents, and overall demeanor did not match my perceptions. Selfies are almost always photos of faces taken in a flattering angle. While we are a beautiful group of women, most of us (myself included) are big girls, much bigger than I expected.

Our first scheduled event was to board the General Jackson Showboat. Most of the ladies spent time in the hotel room pre-gaming with shots of Fireball, curling or straightening their hair, and putting on fake eyelashes. I was so out of my element and felt incredibly overwhelmed and withdrawn. I'm also not a fan of boats, so the approaching three hour boat ride only added to my anxiety. We rode to the Opry Mills where the showboat was docked.

Here's the fifteen of us ready to board:

Dinner was a buffet of mashed potatoes, green beans, chicken or steak, rolls, and salad. The food was slightly above mediocre, as was the company.

This 24 oz margarita helped calm my nerves.

After dinner we went up to the the top deck to watch the sunset and listen to live music. The fresh air also helped me relax.

This is a stock image I pulled from online since I didn't take any pictures. It was identical to our view along the river. So beautiful!

Many of the moms (who are more thoughtful than myself) brought inexpensive gifts to us. Some of the gifts we received were homemade bath salts, a shot glass, a tumbler, cookies, a "hangover survival bag", and friendship bracelets. The organizer of the trip took this cute photo of the bracelets she gave us. It was a flashback to middle school.

After music and drinks on the upper level, we returned to the bottom floor for the show. The performers were over the top with sequined rompers, glittery boots, and metallic suits. Of course, they were all talented musicians and provided an entertaining snapshot of the history of country music.

This is another borrowed image. I hardly took any photos the entire trip!
After the showboat, we returned to the hotel. A few of the moms chose to call it a night, though most of us took the shuttle downtown to explore the night life. Nashville is a bustling city on a Friday night! I danced the night away (completely sober) and had a great time. I think Zumba has helped me feel more comfortable with my body. I remember in college never knowing what to do with myself and always doing silly sprinkler moves or white girl dances. I doubt I looked anywhere near as sexy as I felt dancing, but I had my share of partners and enjoyed moving easily to the music. It was quite a freeing feeling. When I woke up the next morning, I was confused how I had nearly reached my steps goal. I got a notification on my phone saying, "It looks like you were really moving. Were you exercising between 1:18 a.m. and 3:06 am? Tell UP what you were doing." 

Despite a late night, I made plans with another mom to tour the Country Music Hall of Fame Saturday morning. After enjoying an elaborate continental breakfast, we shared a taxi to the museum.

I haven't listened to country music in over ten years, but I grew up hearing my dad sing Hank William songs and dancing to Great Balls of Fire and Elvira in my Granny's living room. I felt very nostalgic being surrounded by memorabilia from such classic artists. 

In addition to the older artists, I was excited to see a large exhibit on Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash. Jesse went through many years obsessing over Bob Dylan. In fact, one of my early experiences with Jesse's family was seeing Dylan in concert. I also have plenty of fond memories while listening to Johnny Cash songs. Before Jackson was born, Jesse used to place headphones over my stomach and play June and Johnny's song "Jackson". 

It was amazing how many memories came flooding through my mind during a museum tour. It was inspiring to be immersed among artifacts from such influential musicians throughout history.

I also enjoyed the one on one time getting to share stories and spend time together with another triplet mom. It helped that she was more knowledgeable in current country music and pointed certain things out to me that I wouldn't have been as excited about.

After a lunch on Broadway, we met up with the larger group of fifteen for a scheduled pub crawl. I wasn't especially excited about this group event since I'm not a big drinker, but it was surprisingly fun! Our tour guide was an attractive male song writer who led us through some trendy spots in Nashville. One of the girls ordered shirts for all of us. 

We hung out on the rooftop bar at the George Jones museum and answered trivia questions.

My roommate and driving buddy, Flora
 Mostly we just walked around to different bars, took a lot of shots, and yelled over the live music.

Some of the shots even required team effort!

The most popular alcohols were Fireball and flavored moonshines. It was hard to go anywhere without being offered one of the two.

Two of the things I had wanted to do were dance on the bar at Coyote Ugly and ride a bull at the Wild Beaver. I never did make it to Coyote Ugly. (I was sidetracked dancing at other bars!) I did seize the opportunity to ride the bull, though.

We split up after the pub crawl for dinner. My group went to Jack's Bar-B-Que, which was suggested to us as the place to go for BBQ. We had perfect timing. We only had to wait a few minutes to get our food, but there was literally a line out the door and around the block when we were leaving. 

After dinner we took a shuttle back to the hotel so we could get ready for our night at the Opry. A group of us had purchased tickets a few months ago, before the guest list was even set. We were very excited to discover Alison Krauss on the list!

Random aside: I ended up being in the only hotel room of three. It worked out perfectly because our hotel expenses were even cheaper. Here are my roommates and I in front of the Opry.

The show was a very unique experience! I was expecting it to be like any other concert I had attended, but it was more of a theater show. The performance was broken up into segments with different sponsors. The show was on the radio and an announcer would suddenly appear and read advertisements between songs.

There were some wonderfully told stories woven throughout the music. The informal chatter between the musicians made it feel like I was watching a jam session. It was refreshing to simply listen to talented musicians, without pyrotechnics, ornate costumes, and complicated dance routines. Alison Krauss was slightly disappointing, only because she never sang any of her own songs or even perform by herself.

We'd all had our share of alcohol earlier, so we opted to go out for ice cream after the show. Since everyone was either driving or flying back the next morning, we had a low-key evening in our hotel rooms. Most of us gathered in one or two rooms to hang out in our pajamas and just talk. It was a nice change of pace from the previous night and I was able to better hear the other moms.

Flora brought her own air mattress.
Sunday morning we said our goodbyes, took advantage of the impressive continental breakfast, then began our journey through the Smoky Mountains.

The trip was an interesting experience. It forced me to do some self-reflection. I have a good sense of who I am as a mother, but this weekend was interesting for me to examine who I am as a woman. I've learned/reaffirmed that:
  • I am an introvert. I enjoy the company of others, but it drains me. 
  • In new situations, I am a follower. I've always considered myself a leader, so I was surprised and disappointed to frequently find myself feeling like a third wheel. It takes me longer to get comfortable around others, which unfortunately can mislead people to think I'm standoffish. 
  • I feel really good about myself until I see pictures or videos. I swear, that fat woman in the front row with giant arms is not me. I feel self-confident when I'm dressed up or dancing, then embarrassed after I see photos of myself. It's like my head just doesn't see the reality of my obesity. I don't really know how else to describe it. 
  • I don't need to drink to have a good time. In fact, I have a better time when I know I'm in full control. 
  • People always comment about how laid back or easy going I am. I've never found this to be true until I compared myself to some of the more sensitive and aggressive personalities. Again, my easy going nature can be mistaken for apathy, which isn't necessarily true. I just don't find myself concerned about some of the petty things other women do. 
  • I have Resting Bitch Face. Just because I'm not smiling (which is most of the time), it doesn't mean I'm not having a good time.
  • I am very low maintenance. I've always considered this a good thing, but I was embarrassed at being incapable of applying make up, styling my hair, or having cute shoes to go with my outfits. In college, I was the friend that other girls liked to dress up. At nearly 30, I think I should be able to have myself a bit more put together.
It was a very memorable weekend. I feel even more connected to my amazing triplet mamas, and I'm very appreciative that Jesse supported my decision to go on this trip.

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