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The Night Before Our First Retreat

It's 8:21pm on Thursday, April 20. I leave in the morning to host AMR's very first respite retreat near Crozet, VA. It's been a year now since the idea of AMR first came to me. A year of planning, thinking, designing...agonizing...stepping here and there, following the cookie crumbles...letting things happen as they will. I've been planning this for months. I feel painfully unprepared, yet I know it's going to be great.

I've been through much change in this last year....MUCH change. Much uncertainty, fear, anxiety....yet knowing how badly affordable respite is needed. We need a change in the attitude society takes to parents who really struggle in their family lives. As is my way, I have a very tangible, grand end goal in sight, but flying by the seat of my pants along the way.

Chiswell Estate, Greenwood, VA

This retreat is being held at the Chiswell Estate in Greenwood. I have a deep love of history and ancestry, so you will typically see me choose historic inns to host our retreats. My family goes back six generations in this area (Crozet/Batesville/Afton), for those of you who have wondered "why Afton?"

Not only is this area an outstanding, central location with year-round available off-campus activities, it gives me an opportunity to give back to my family roots.

So here we are, the night before our very first retreat. This one is a planning retreat, where along with our 2 nights of uninterrupted sleep, we 6 ladies will spend many hours Saturday talking about how to best serve extra needs parents. The challenges.... the real and raw emotions....the obstacles they face TO giving themselves time away.... what A Mother's Rest can do to eliminate those obstacles, and serve these families in a healthy way for the long term support of the children. What will the role of our own respite inn be? How will we reach that financial goal? How many retreats should we plan year-round and nationwide? How can we raise funds and build financial partnerships to make these events FREE to visiting parents? How do we incorporate faith (or not) into AMR? How do we address the division in the special needs community between those who are totally burnt out and those who are really coping quite well? How can we realistically assist in coordinating child care coverage so parents can travel? I simply won't accept that it can't be done.

So now it's's taken me an hour to get this far because I'm a mom. Nevermind that my son has Down syndrome. I have two tween boys home on Spring Break, 2 dogs, 2 cats, trying to get packed, get to Costco for groceries, get all the gift bags ready for the guests, shower, somewhere in there I'm supposed to sleep.....why is that the sleep always comes last? It's a three hour drive tomorrow

Off we go! I'll be sure to post photos and how our discussion goes....and of course, be looking forward to the next retreat scheduled for Mother's Day in New York!

Here to serve,

Andrea Faris Roberts

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