The offer sounded so tempting. Six glorious kid-free days with my husband in British Columbia at his company’s sales conference. Sure, he’d need to give a presentation and go to dinner a couple of nights, but we’d also have plenty of free time. Free time. It was music to this mama’s ears.
But I knew there was no way I could go. Especially with three girls going three different directions all summer long. Just thinking about where they could stay and the logistics of getting everyone to various sports practices, games and camps gave me a headache. Yep. That settled it. It was just too difficult.
Then IT happened. The sun, earth, moon, stars and Mars must’ve all been in alignment because fate presented the perfect solution. My husband’s aunt and uncle were coming to visit and said they’d LOVE to hang out with our three teenaged daughters!
Hang-out: (hang`out`) v 1. To drive them to and from their various commitments. 2. To accompany them to their games and cheer madly from the sidelines. 3. To monitor their eating habits, making sure they consume something besides hot dogs, mac ‘n cheese and pop tarts every day.
There was just one problem. I didn’t want to inconvenience the in-laws. Suddenly, I heard a voice inside my head.
“Let’s think about this, Sheri. When was the last time you and Curt actually took more than a day-trip without the kids?”
According to my recollection, we spent a week in Maui when our first child was one. Now she’s seventeen.
Yep. No more excuses. I needed to start packing.
As it turned out, we had a fabulous time. I also learned a few lessons that I’d like to share with you. So here they are …five lessons I learned after ditching my kids.#1. Putting the kids first may seem like a noble deed. But it’s not.
Once upon a time, I met and married the man of my dreams. Over time, God blessed us with three lovely girls. We were so thankful to have them, that we happily and completely threw ourselves into raising them.
As they grew older, they developed their own interests. They joined band and choir. Volleyball and basketball. Cheerleading and softball. Soon our family life revolved around those three girls.
Though we loved spending time as a family, we also realized that putting the kids first wasn’t great for our marriage. So we took a little trip to remind all of us (including our girls) that they are not the center of our universe.
#2. Everyone deserves a time-out.
When it comes to football, I’m no expert. But I do know this: half-way through the game, all of those tired, worn-out players get to drag themselves off to the locker room for a much-needed break. During that time, they rest. They also discuss what they’ve done well and develop a plan on how to do better. Then they run back out there, ready to tackle the second half of the game.
That’s what this trip was for us. As parents of teenagers, we needed to catch our breath. We talked about how things have been going. We created a new strategy for ways to improve. Then we returned back home, ready to finish strong.
#3. Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Yes, I missed my kids. Especially when we did things I knew they’d enjoy. Horseback riding. Whitewater rafting. Shopping. Eating yummy dinners out.
But I have a feeling they missed me more. To be honest, my kids have never had the opportunity to miss me. I’m guessing they noticed life goes more smoothly when Mom and Dad are around.
#4. Time away provided a breath of fresh air for our marriage.
It’s so easy to fall into a tag-team style of parenting. When we were first married, we had deep discussions about our hopes and dreams in life. Now our conversations sound more like this:
“Can you pick up Maddie after practice?”
“Yes, I need to swing by the bank first so I might be just a bit late.”
“Okay, that should be fine because … ”
You get the idea. If we’re not careful, we can coast through life on autopilot. I don’t want a humdrum marriage on autopilot. Every now and then we need to break out of the routine.
#5. We both gained a new appreciation for one another.
In some ways, my husband and I are opposites. He’s an extrovert who loves to get up in front of people and speak. I’m more of an introvert who loves to hideaway in my office and write.
This trip gave me the opportunity to watch him in his element. It was a nice reminder of how hard he works to provide for our family. It also gave him a chance to see me OUT of my element, which is a good thing. (In other words, I got out of my sweats and dressed up a bit.) I even mixed and mingled with the best of them. I think he appreciated that I stepped out of my comfort zone to be there for him.
I know, I know. Kids grow up fast and we need to spend time with them because they’re only here for a while. I agree. Believe me, I know how quickly kids grow. I have a senior in high school. But I also know that you can’t put your marriage on hold while you raise your kids. Curt and I returned home refreshed and full of stories to share with our kids.
It’s okay to ditch your kids every once in awhile – especially if you’re reconnecting with your husband. Your kids might be shocked to discover they’re not the center of the universe, but someday they’ll thank you for it.