Childless days

After a particularly trying week with our girls, I had to balance taking them to work and risking a small disaster or major disturbance, with, the fact that my “babysitter envelope” was running a low balance.

I decided I would rather have a babysitter than eat. Because some days just roll like that.

A couple days before we left for the beach, my mom called me and said since we would already be halfway to her house…how about if the girls came to stay with them so Brian and I could have a week to ourselves.

I almost dropped the phone. That sounded awesome.

And so it was. We left the beach a day earlier than planned and met up with my parents to hand over our babies. Who are most definitely not babies anymore. Avery just informed me a few minutes ago while reading the paper that “when she grows up she will have an automatic toilet in her house. The kind with the eye.” Okay.

I had all these ideas of what a week without the kids would be like. We would eat out at our favorite restaurants until late and not think twice about it. We would clean house and it would stay that way all week. We would not have a knock at the door at an inopportune time, much less a child who mutters, “Knock it off with the romantic stuff already!” before she walks away. Those of you who can’t wait until your babies can talk? Just you wait. There would be no petty arguments to settle. No mountain of crumbs resulting from a piece of toast…it would be quiet…I could catch up on all the writing I’ve been wanting to do, or have left unfinished.

Our 9-days alone began at a beautiful hotel downtown Atlanta in a corner room on the 9th floor. We made dinner reservations for 9:30pm at a chic restaurant, fell asleep in the coziest bed watching the late show and I woke up to fresh coffee on my nightstand while my husband was curled up, reading in a chair across the room. I had no idea what time it was – and I didn’t care. No one needed me. And no one was coming to get me either.

We headed out to IKEA for the first time that morning, had a lot of fun and everything we bought wrapped up a loose end project around the house. It felt amazing to get home and get everything situated. And when I said I was craving guacamole? I found myself being driven to the restaurant faster than I could have said Arriba!

The next days consisted of us going to work and coming back together at the end of the day for spontaneous plans with friends or just grilling out in the backyard and sharing a bottle of wine. It was good. Really good. We were talking again rather than managing.

It made me wonder … what if … a little. And then I felt guilty because asking What If leads nowhere. Oh, the guilt of parenthood. The fact remains, I did wonder ~ What if we hadn’t had kids so young? Would life be like this?

We talked to the girls everyday. Sometimes a couple times a day. They were always busy and having fun and giggling. My mom would tell me, “They say the funniest stuff! … They’re so smart! … We are having so much fun! … Thank you for letting them come to our house.”

I’m grateful for the special memories the kids made with my parents, and for them being willing and wanting to go to all the work and the distance to spend time with them. I know, it’s “what grandparents do”, but it was really wonderful for all of us for different reasons. Getting my husbands undivided attention is like being given a gift. And so in that respect, last week was like Christmas for me!

Sunday came, and we were up early and on our way to Atlanta to meet up with them, and while I was talking to Avery on the phone somewhere in North Georgia, she started singing with me. I have a terrible singing voice but she has a sweet little girl voice, sometimes on key, sometimes way off but always makes me smile. So we sang.

And then I missed them.

I wanted to walk past their bedroom and hear their little acappella voices singing out. I wanted to kneel at their bedside and pray with them. I wanted to see the umpteenth little picture they drew for me and find more funny little notes they had written. But I needed them home to do that.

As Brian and I rode out the last hours of our trip between Dalton and McDonough, we talked through our household routines and how my working two days a week will effect things and reinforcing that the girls are old enough to pitch in more and how we will all work this out “because the last thing I want is to leave housework to Saturdays. I don’t want the kids to grow up hating the weekend because we have work to do before hittin some fun stuff ….Saturday should be a family day…and yeah, some Saturdays we will have a project at home, but with all the business of life – Saturday is our one dedicated day to be with them and we have to make the most of it because in 10 years they will be GONE.”

And we both just fell awkwardly silent. Ten years? Ten years isn’t long.

Within moments, we saw our exit and when I hopped out of the car to hug my girls and parents, I still had the salty stuff going on from holding back the tears. And I don’t know why it took Brian so long to park the car, but I have a sneaking suspicion…

It was wonderful to see them again, and squeeze them and hear their stories from the week and those of my mom and dad. And before you know it, you’re back in the car and headed back home, loud, talkative, giggly precious cargo buckled up in the backseat.

An hour down the road I had a throbbing headache and got the eye from B over it. “What? I do! I’m not blaming anyone!” Back to life as we know it: noisy, kinda messy … full.

We’ve been home a couple days and already there is crap strewn all over the house. One of them huffed and looked at the ceiling after hearing my instructions approximately 4 times yesterday, once in front of her father which was not a bright idea (also the last time it occurred). In the past 48 hours, we have referree’d arguments, spoiled their sneakiness, and fallen asleep on the couch trying to relax but just being too exhausted to stay awake. They have played tag with their outside voice while inside, and left piles of evidence of where they’ve been in nearly every room.

I was late to work yesterday morning because this little sweetheart decided to pull her tooth rather than get dressed for the day. Oh, but I just couldn’t be mad with this look of excitement on her face!

On the other hand, the toilets are freshly cleaned (their favorite chore), I’ve been able to witness them playing with the neighbors and enjoy all the laughter and goofiness that comes along with it. I’ve seen Taylor use her money to buy gifts for the younger neighbor kids and her joy in delivering them. And there’s singing in our house again. The sound of a guitar being strummed and the knowledge that songs are being written, inspired by childhood observation and experience.

I’ve found it easier to write again too. I usually need silence, but last week with all the quiet, I couldn’t get anything out. In the midst of all the noise, life’s best inspiration comes from life being fully lived, the way it is best known. And my kids are just that. Life just isn’t right without them here, even if they are edging each other out as they race up the stairs and are making forts with drapes pinned together with barrettes. That’s my life today. Piles of toast crumbs and all.

So…What if?

It doesn’t matter. It isn’t what is.

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~ by hthr on August 3, 2010.

3 Responses to “Childless days”

  1. Beautiful sentiments. You are so blessed 😉

  2. This is my favorite post because I am so there with you! What parent doesn’t think, “what if”, and doesn’t feel a little guilty afterwards? I know I do. I’m feeling a little anxious about my kids starting school soon, but excited at the prospect of having a little bit of free time. Doing things like eating a hot meal on my own time, or going to the grocery, or PD’s… etc. Then I think, ugh. I’ll miss them! My oldest will be 16 next week, and I’m sad because I don’t think I’ve appreciated him through the years the way I should’ve and the way he deserved. Total mommy guilt.

    How awesome is it that your parents, who are lovely by the way, would take your kids and give you some time to relax and hang with your husband and go to IKEA!!! I love that place too.

    Again, wonderful post.

  3. You always write amazing things…Loved it. Don’t know what I’d do with a week alone. Everytime Charles and I have any time alone, all we do is talk about them, anyway!

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