While the girls and I were on one of our many ice cream trips of the summer so far, we ran into a few local readers that my mom knew. As we were talking to them, Maylie, excited for her week ahead, blurted out that they were going to have four sleepovers that week.
You know that moment when you feel like you totally need to explain something your kid just said so you don’t look like a total failure as a mom? Yeah, that was where I was, and my mind was racing to come up with a valid mom excuse for leaving my children for four nights. However, I am awful at lying and couldn’t come up with a reason other than the truth.
Almost apologetically, I explained that my husband and I were going to Country Concert. It was then that the respectful gentleman half-jokingly (I think) mentioned that I had better not write about that.
With all kinds of feelings of guilt, I let these people know that the girls were going to be in loving hands while we went to — as it was referred to me many times — “the drunk fest.” If you are not familiar with it, Country Concert is a long weekend in Fort Loramie where tons of talented country music stars perform.
I am not going to pretend like it is a sober place where people dress modestly and use proper language. There are definitely some sections that are knowingly reserved for the wild adventures. But that is not all that Country Concert is about. And, I finally decided that, this year, I no longer need to be ashamed or feel like less of a mom for attending this event.
With a whole lot of careful planning for the girls’ day-to-day schedules while we were gone, I put a lot into this weekend getaway. For me, Country Concert is not a place for my children (although some people do bring children). My music-loving Maylie would have been over the moon to attend, it is just not the atmosphere I want to expose her to. (Although I did send her some videos of a few of our favorite songs that we always jam to on our playlist).
However, as with all things, it is all about perspective. If you only see or hear about the young and wild crowd, you miss so much. Like when one country super star was looking for a girl to bring on stage and picked the sweet girl with a disability and. Her excitement clearly couldn’t be contained, there wasn’t a dry eye in the place.
Or when I got the chance to meet another star who was wearing a shirt stating it saved lives and I, of course, had to ask how. He explained that each one sold results in a donation to St. Jude. We then went on to discuss my nephew with leukemia and he asked for his name so he could pray for him. Talk about chills.
When there were missteps or run-ins between people, I noticed that they genuinely said, “I’m sorry” or “excuse me.” There was no hatred or automatic assumptions that they were just being jerks. No, it was country music — the feel-good, love-thy-neighbor type.
Plus, without a care in the world, I felt the freedom to just be me while I was there. Look, I totally rocked my mom game. From my comfy shoes (hey, I walked over 20,000 steps each day), to my fanny pack, visor and even my Disney spritz fan, no one judged me for being the Mama that I am.
Oh, I still screamed some of my favorite lyrics with my arm around my big sis, competitively busted a move to some ‘90s with the bestie and learned a high-knees-cotton-eye-joe-wanna-be dance with a hilarious friend. But I was also the one handing out Powerade, water and snacks to anyone who looked like they needed it. I guess that’s just the mom in me.
By far, my favorite part of it all was during every single love song that weekend, my husband and I either clasped hands or put our arms around each other and slow danced. In a field of 20,000+ people, it was just us.
Sure, I missed my babies, but sometimes a Mama deserves a break. And maybe to some, that break appears to be a reckless choice for a Mama. But, remember, things are not always what they seem.
As for me, I am already looking forward to planning next year’s trip. And I am proud to say that I am a Country Concert Mama.
Sarah (Pitson) Shrader was born and raised in Lima. She is a Lima Central Catholic and Tiffin University graduate. Sarah is a full-time working mama who enjoys writing about her somewhat crazy, always adventurous life as a mother. She lives in Bath Township with her husband, Paul, and their daughters, her writing inspirations, Maylie and Reagan.