Why I leave my kids.

3:21 PM

 


   O.k. I lied.  ONE more Hawaiian post because I totally forgot to even address the teensy tinsy topic of leaving your kids behind.  *Gasp*

   I know that for some of you, reading that first line is reason enough to raise your hackles and make your reach for your pitchforks......while for others of you, that first line makes you want to pat me on the back and say, "You go, mama!"

   I wish I could look across to the other side of this screen and decipher which one you are.....but alas, I cannot, and so I will just carry on with my one-sided conversation, and hopefully you will share some of your thoughts in the comment section.  I'd love to hear them.

   First things first, don't be fooled.  Just because I leave my kids to go on trips with my husband, doesn't mean that it's EASY for me.

   I thought about them every day in Hawaii.  I would stop and think to myself,  right in the middle of another perfect day, "Oh they would just love this so much!"  and ache for them to be there.  I would resist the urge to hug stranger's children.   I tried to keep my texts/calls home to a minimum but I wanted to know how they were doing ALL THE TIME.  Before we left I wrapped up little gifts for them to open each day, with messages written on the paper about how much we loved and missed them.......I knew they would be having a non-stop party with their Grandma, but that didn't mean I wouldn't miss them like crazy.

And I did.


   And once again, I know that for some of you, these feelings would not be signs of healthy attachment to my children, but they would be symptoms of guilt.  Proof somehow, that I was doing something wrong.  That I had made the wrong choice.

   On the 4th when we were waiting for the fireworks to begin, we were sitting on the lawn next to a young couple with two sweet little girls.  I couldn't help myself and commented on them, saying I was missing mine back at home.  The mother replied, "Oh yes, I suppose the fireworks might be a little scary for little ones."  And I said, "Oh, actually I meant back HOME home, like, back in Oregon."  To which she seemed surprised and replied, "Oh.....I don't think I could ever do that."

*crickets*

   It was so awkward.  We'd met like, 7 seconds ago and were exchanging smiles and hi-how-are-yous and judgment.  Which I suppose is o.k.....it IS a free country and all (hence the fireworks)  but I guess I would just be way too intimidated to pass out parenting advice to someone after having met them, oh I don't know, 7 seconds ago?!  And you know, it wasn't even the fact that she disagreed with me.  Because that's OK. Really it is.  I know lots and lots of women that disagree with what I did and would never leave their children to go on a trip to Hawaii with their husband.  And that's o.k.

But it's OK for me to do it, too.

   And since when did we decide that if we have a particular stance on a issue, it then needs to become upheld by everyone else?  This applies to soooooo many things when it comes to motherhood I could literally lose track counting.

Vaccinations
Schooling options
Breastfeeding
Natural childbirth
Spanking
Working moms
Safety
Food
Scheduling

   And about a million other things.  Why can't we just all help one another out and encourage each other when we're feeling down and look out for one another?  Why don't we choose to raise our pitchforks when we see abused or abandoned or aborted children, and put them down when we see amazing women all around us sincerely trying their very hardest to be the best wife/mother they can be?  Why don't we love a little more, and judge a little less?

   I know this, because I used to be more of a pitchfork-waving mom.  Certain topics would only have to be whispered about and I would feel my blood start to boil and it would be all I could do to keep from launching into battle. I like to think that I have come a long way from that mom today.  I like to think that I extend grace a little more often.  Or at least I really, truly try to.

   So why do I leave my kids?  Because my husband and I became a family on the day we exchanged vows.....NOT on the day that I saw those two pink little lines on that pregnancy test.  We were ALREADY a family.  Children joined our family, but they didn't make us a family.  If children had made us a family, then our family would disappear on the day that our children are grown and out of the house.  And sadly, in our culture today, that happens way too often.

   It is JUST AS IMPORTANT  to take time for your "original family" as it is to take time for your "growing family".  Taking time as a couple to reconnect, focus on one another and invest in one another is priceless.  And for some reason, it has gotten a pretty bad rep.  It has been titled "neglect" and "selfishness" and lots of other ugly things, just because you are temporarily leaving your children to devote your time and energy and attention to the foundation of your marriage, and the foundation of your family.  

   But even as important as I believe it to be to have alone time together as a couple, I need to extend grace to couples who choose not to do that.  And I will try.  But the road runs both ways, sister, and so you also need to extend grace to the couples who choose differently.

I love my kids.

   I'll shout it from the mountaintops, I'll proclaim it across the seas.  I love my kids so much.  TOO much, to let them become the utmost and topmost priority in my life, shutting out all others.  Too much to let them replace my husband.  Since I love them so much, I will try to love my husband even more. Because what they need to know and see and hear more than anything else, is that Jesus loves them, Daddy loves Mama, and Mama loves Daddy.

That is what they need to know.

   And they need to know it, not in a vague, theoretical way, but they need to KNOW it.  Deep down to the core of their being they need to feel it in their gut, without ever even being taught, that their parents love each other, and will never leave each other.

Nothing will give them greater security.
Nothing will bring them more peace.
Nothing will make them feel more loved.

   And so yes, I love my kids, and I leave my kids.  I promise them that I will come back, and I do. And NOTHING beats the feeling of that heart-in-your-throat, salty-teared moment when they run into your arms again.

    Believe me, I cherish our times all together as a family more and more each passing day (like our camping trip this past weekend).  But I have found that in our times alone as a couple, we acquire a deeper connection and understanding and knowledge of one another, that can't just be "picked up" when the kids are out of the house one day.  It is cultivated, nurtured and grown, just like children are.

   And you're right....children grow like weeds and I don't want to miss a single moment of it!!  But neither do I want to neglect the growth of my marriage until we find ourselves many years later,  mere strangers in an empty house.

   And so, my dear warrior-mamas everywhere, let's put down the pitchforks, and give a little grace today.



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14 comments

  1. Oh oh! This subject is one that I've often wanted to talk about with someone but I'm too afraid to. You expressed it so well! Thank you!!! God bless your marriage!

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  2. Believe me, I would leave my kids all the time if I could (well, I suppose not ALL the time), but the babysitter issue is a challenge. Right now I feel like we could go to Hawaii for a week and I might not even miss them because I'm away from them so rarely. haha. (Terrible mother.)

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  3. I do know how you must have felt at the very moment when someone else voices their attachment to their kiddos. I can understand if I would leave the young ones often for leisure but once a yr is refreshing! It takes a strong and confident person to make the choice you did. I have been on numerious trips through my company with only my husband by my side. The 1st time allowing others comments leaving me feeling guilty as I was leaving. But then I got to thinking how few uninterupted conversations I've had with my husband recently and discovered this was a divine appointment to communicate and really share our hearts and desires, even about raising our children. So no, my children are not forgotten while I am gone. In fact its all about me taking care of myself and getting out to soak in Gods beauty and becoming a better mother and wife so my family can connect in healthier ways. Even when I'm not on vacation I sometimes need alone quiet time to regroup,prioritize to function and react properly to the demands of the home. Blessings to you!

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  4. Oh yes, absolutely. I find myself nodding my head in agreement with every word. Although I'm going to have to admit we waited way TOO long to take a trip alone and it wasn't until day three in Jamaica that I really wished the boys were along. :) But I completely agree that marriages need nurturing or else they die. The terrible discrepancy here is that for all my belief system about what should happen, we hardly ever actually leave the kids. You are inspiring me to let go again.

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  5. Letting the kids behind, I do this. I figure it's good for the kids as well. I love how you explained that it's not easy to let them behind, yet you do that. I usually struggle with guilt that I don't deserve to get away. Even for a simple date night I can feel this way. I'm not planning to quit though. I LOVED your Hawaii posts.

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  6. I came across this post because someone shared it on their Facebook feed this morning. I agree with it, I do. Totally.

    But I wonder if another thing that we moms do really well is look for judgement in other people's words a little too readily?

    Like, I would be that woman, at this point in my life, who would say, "I could never do that." I don't say it because I think it's wrong. I'm even jealous of you that you CAN do that. I dream of the day that I'm able to do it. I would say it because at this point in my life I just can't picture being able to do it.

    But my wistful "look at you and your husband out just the two of you enjoying your time together" could definitely come across as "you're doing the wrong thing.

    I think in these issues, it's so important to give each other the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she was judging you. But maybe she wasn't. If she wasn't, then aren't you the one adding the judgement element to the conversation?

    I don't know. It's just something I've been thinking about already. :)

    And for the record, I'm ACHING for the day I can leave my kids with a sitter and even go out for coffee with my husband. Even if I can't picture it just now.

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  7. Ooooo, I love this. At this point in our lives it's difficult to even find a babysitter for one single evening away for a date, and the few days away we've taken are so hard to make happen. BUT - they are SO worth making happen. I am a much better parent when I am connected as a wife, when that relationship is strong. I think it was Paul Washer that said (in one of his marriage sermons), "You cannot be a good mother if you are not a good wife." Basically, don't put all your energy into your kids. Focus first on your marriage, and keep that priority. That was so good to hear, such encouragement.

    Blessings on you guys, and your marriage!
    xo

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  8. I'm not even a Mom, but I say to all you Mom's out there, good job for carving out time! Whether it's alone, or with your hubby! I strongly feel it's important for your emotional well being and for your relationship. I have been HAPPY to accommodate many a young mother on this very subject. Cuz, ya know what? Sometimes us singles really get a kick outta your kids and love them to bits! We get to have just a sliver of a taste of being Mommy if even just for a day.. So, bravo, Shelley! Keep on being real..

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  9. Hey, suzy, above, you're doing the same thing, not giving the writer here the benefit of the doubt: why not assume that the other mom said what she did to Miss Shelley in an obviously judgmental voice?

    gr8 post, over and out

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  12. Hey Laura.

    I wasn't trying to judge the writer. Maybe I didn't word my post well. I just know that I've had so many conversations with moms who feel judged by other moms, and I've wondered many times if the judgement is something that we put on ourselves more than anything.

    I just know that I could've so easily been that other woman. I would've said that. And I wouldn't have been meaning to be judgemental at all. And I'd feel terrible if someone went away from that interaction with me feeling like I was judging them when I honestly, honestly wasn't.

    Just my thoughts. Not trying to judge, start a fight, or upset anyone. The opposite, actually. :)

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  13. (Yikes. And then I go and post the same comment three times. I don't know how that happened. Sorry...)

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  14. Shelley......YES!!!!! I am not a mom, but I know that what you are saying is TRUTH. Because my parents are more in love today than 25 years ago when they got married. They just got back yesterday from a 9-day trip. They flew across the country to celebrate the beginning, the "original" family- just the two of them. I am so proud of them. I recently was telling a young mom about how my parents are so in love and have a great marriage, and she was like, "yeah, I can totally tell". And then I started explaining how they fight for time alone together, both on a very busy farm + traveling the country half the year in a bus with 10 kids. They go on dinner dates, walks, coffee dates, and they pray together in their bedroom every night. And then they go on getaways about once a year. Anyways....I could go on and on, because I'm so passionate about this, too!!! And I'm on the side of watching parents who have done what you're talking about. And I am grateful. Oh, and by the way, they said that their recent getaway was better than their honeymoon.:)

    love you blog, girl! Keep up the good work, and never be scared to write about controversial things!

    blessings,
    Allison Bontrager

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