And for these two days, my husband and I have been a couple. Not parents. A couple. That thing we were before the kids came along and that thing we will be once they all leave home and make their own families.
It wasn't easy. This is actually our first trip alone in 4 1/2 years. Not because we didn't want to leave the kids but because the family that was willing was not able and the family that was able did not appear willing. And when your children are small and dependent on the adults around them, you need willing caregivers.
This summer, my boys are 5, 8, and 9 years old. They can swim (the house is on a lake). They can get their own Eggos and go to the bathroom completely unassisted. They don't need constant supervision, just some food thrown at them a few times a day. And so this summer, we decided it was time. We no longer needed willing family as much as able family and my inlaws are more than capable. My dear husband simply informed his parents that we would be leaving the kids with them for a few days while we spent time together just the two of us. And thankfully they became willing participants.
We spent time preparing the kids. The first time we mentioned them staying the night with their grandparents without us, Little One got tears in his eyes. We talked through all the details. Their big brother told them how much fun he had on his first sleepover recently. I explained that Grandma and Grandpa and all their Aunts and Uncles love them. They don't get to see them often, they may not feel familiar, but they do love my boys. The boys got excited about all the chocolate milk Grandma would give them and the days of fishing with Grandpa. They knew their Aunts and Uncle would be there too to watch them swim and help them with sunscreen. By the time we needed to say goodbye, they were happily playing in the lake and only willing to stop for quick kisses goodbye.
I knew they would miss us, but probably only for a moment or two because there was so much fun to be had at the lake house. I felt confident they would be safe and happy. Until...
My mother in law asked if I was worried.
"No," I replied because I wasn't. To which she replied something along the lines that I should be because all mothers worry, all good mothers do at least.
And I know that idea. I hear it often in various forms. Moms are told of all the dangers in the world and given so many safety commands when they have babies and then toddlers and then school age children. Parenting books thrive on this worry culture.
Even as our kids get older, moms are told that the worry never goes away even when they leave home.
And while I agree the world can feel like a scary place, I don't understand why Christians are buying into it. I don't understand why my mother in law who is a Christian tells me I should be worried. Because nothing in the Bible tells me to worry. No, it says the opposite.
Do not worry. Jesus says it repeatedly in Matthew 6.
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?And the last verse in chapter 6, the one I reminded my mother in law of as I prepared to leave my kids overnight with someone other than my husband:
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
I am not saying that it was an easy decision to leave my kids over night. It took 4 1/2 years between nights away with my husband. We do not take it lightly. But I left them with their grandparents. People who love them. People who raised my husband, who not only survived childhood, but is a wonderful, responsible man.
Oh and my sister in law who lives right nearby is a nurse who specializes in pediatrics.
So not only are my kids safe, but they are getting to build a relationship with their extended family. They are being exposed to a world beyond our own home. They are hearing stories about their dad as a kid. They are spending days at the lake without the distractions of video games, play dates, or activities. They are being loved on and spoiled by their grandparents, adults in their lives who do not have to parent them to be strong, responsible, young men but can just love on them and play with them and let them get away with not doing their chores or staying up too late.
Actually I think this whole grandparent time is so valuable that we really should make it longer. I'm thinking a week alone at the lake next summer might be even better.
(Maybe I will make it to London for my 40th birthday.)
So have you ever been told you needed to worry but you didn't feel it? Or do you need me to help you remember not to worry... because worry will not change anything, except your sleep and stomach and nerves and life.