Back in 2014, Wes and I celebrated our ten year anniversary with a trip to Hawaii.
Wes had found some deals to get us there on reward points and frequent flyer miles, and he presented it all to me expecting that I would be ecstatic. And I was… but I was also hesitant.
“I can’t leave the girls!” I remember telling him. Because it would make me a bad mom, taking that much time away from them, right? I would be irresponsible to go away on a vacation without them, right? It was selfish, wanting time with Wes without them there, right?
Nope, nope, and nope. Wes convinced me it would be okay, so we went. And it was AMAZING. And I came back feeling like it was okay to do what we’d done. Other people, though, didn’t seem to share my sentiments. Not that I let that bother me much, as those of you who know me and know how often our girls go off to spend weekends and whole weeks in the summer with the grandparents can attest. I’m a believer in time away now, and I’m writing this to encourage you — yes, YOU, young mom who is struggling with this — that it’s GOOD to have time away from your children. (Gasp! Go on and gasp. It’s the truth!)
Here are a few things that happen when we send our kids packing…
Our marriage is better for it. I’m not even talking about the romance side of our marriage, although that definitely benefits as well. We live with two chatty preteen girls who would talk our ears off 24/7 if they could. It’s good for us to go away without them so that we can have a real conversation now and then! (A novel idea, I know.) Our marriage doesn’t just grow when we get away and have uninterrupted time together — our friendship grows. I know a lot of couples dread the empty nest because they’re not sure what kind of relationship they’ll have once their kids are gone, but we take these opportunities to affirm to one another that, “It’s going to be awesome when the girls grow up and leave us because I still LIKE you, all these years later.” We’re going to have so much fun once we shake these two off, y’all.
Our girls get to have time with their grandparents. The girls have been to Walt Disney World a few times. We’ve been with them for all but one of those trips, and it was the most recent one where they went with the grandparents. Let me tell you, that was the BEST trip they’ve taken because without us there to spoil the fun, they got to do pretty much whatever struck their fancy. Maybe this doesn’t sound like such a great argument for letting your kids hang out with the grandparents, but the memories they were able to make were worth so, so much. Every time our girls get time with just their grandparents, they’re making memories that they wouldn’t otherwise have. My dad is already in his seventies and the other grandparents are getting there, and I know our girls don’t have an indefinite amount of time with them. I’m eager to give them all the time they can get now so that they – and our parents – won’t have any regrets later.
I’m a better mother when I get time away. When my kids are gone, I’m a great mom! Wait… no, that’s not what I meant. What I meant is this. A well timed break is a great perspective changer. It’s so easy to get bogged down in the daily routines of life, and in the monotony, I find myself cutting corners in what I would consider to be my ideal plan for raising up children. I get tired and stop doing the little things that I know make a big difference. Without time for myself every now and then, I get short and impatient. When I come back from just a day away, though, I’m better rested and better equipped to answer the ten thousand questions I field on a daily basis. I’m a better, happier, more attentive mom because I’ve had some time to get some rest.
Things get done. I remember when the girls were tiny, and they went away for their first visit to Gram’s house. Ana was two, and Emma was one. I was a wreck knowing that they were going to be in Texas while I was in Oklahoma, but do you know what happened once they drove away? Well, I cried and cried. But while I was crying, I GOT STUFF DONE. All those things I couldn’t get done because I had two tiny bits requiring constant vigilance were suddenly things that I could easily accomplish. And grocery shopping alone… it was like taking a vacation to Tahiti! Our house looked totally different when they came back, and it freed me up to spend my time doing what mattered – letting them crawl all over me and use me as a jungle gym. (Seriously, this is all I did from 2006 to about 2009.)
They grow up a little more, each and every time. This is the hardest one, but it’s so important. The girls are old enough now that when they go away, there are things that they’re responsible for doing. They pack their own bags and watch out for their own stuff. They have opportunities away from us to make their own decisions and suffer their own consequences. (With grandparents as a safety net, but still.) One way we’ve seen them grow recently is in hearing how they keep up with their daily Bible reading even with us not there reminding them. They’re not ready to go away and be on their own just yet, but these little periods of time when we’re apart are preparing them for that day. What a blessing, that we have these opportunities to test the waters, toe first so to speak, by spending time apart now in preparation for their adulthood.
In other words, it’s good to take some time away from your kids every now and then. It’s really, really good. It’s a help to both you and them, and you should embrace it when you can…