The Difference Six Years Make

When Flora was a little over three months old, Dan and I talked about going out for my birthday.

We got Flora’s godparents (who lived a few blocks from us at the time) to babysit, picked a bottle of wine, and decided on a restaurant in the same neighborhood in which we lived (the South Side).

And we worried. I had left a bottle of pumped milk, but we still worried.

We knew that it was important to have a date night, and a birthday was a perfect excuse. But we had misgivings that were a mixture of parental guilt for wanting a date night, unease over going several blocks away from our child, anxiety about breast feeding, and some residual panic relating to the loss of Gabriel.

In other words, it was hard to go away from our infant girl, even though she was in good hands and we weren’t very far away and we were going out for maybe three hours tops.

Fast forward to this past weekend, when I turned over all three of my children — including my adorable and adoring 7-month-old son — to my in-laws care overnight. Without blinking.

I was more worried about my in-laws than my children, to be frank.

Dan and I proceeded to drive up to Erie, attend a wedding reception, go to bed after midnight, and sleep until 10 a.m. Then we went to breakfast with my parents before driving back to Pittsburgh.

And, again, I was more worried about my in-laws than the children. Especially if Michael didn’t sleep through the night. (He didn’t. He didn’t nap Saturday afternoon for them either. Gah!)

++

This weekend, I will again be leaving my children in someone else’s care. Of course, that someone else is their dad (with my in-laws as backup), so the anxiety again is about the caretaker. Dan hasn’t been alone with all three children for more than an hour or so, let alone most of two days and overnight.

I am leaving instructions for him regarding Michael. The girls can tell Daddy what they need, but Michael is going to need an advocate.

But I have a wedding-related duties, so I am meeting my sister in Philadelphia to…um… shop for dresses! That’s it. So, yeah, we might go to some nice dinners, and stay in a nice hotel, and there’s that hour or so we will be in the spa. But mostly: dress shopping.

I suppose if I were breast feeding Michael, this getting away would be more difficult, and I confess to having some residual guilt about that. But done is done, and he’s doing well (except for ear infections, which all my children had/have, breast fed or not).

But Dan and I needed those hours in the car without the kids, and the night and morning free. I need some child-free time, some girl bonding time, some dress shopping time. I don’t know if this makes me a bad (or “bad”) mother. (Or wife, for that matter.)

Mileage will vary.

Do you make leaving your children a practice? (Not counting working outside the home, because don’t even get me started.) Have you gone away from them overnight? Is it still hard, or did it get easier for you, too?

7 thoughts on “The Difference Six Years Make

  1. I went to TX in May and left the kids with their Dad for the weekend. It was glorious. Absolutely glorious. I needed it SO BADLY. At the end of August we’re going to try to leave the kids with their grandparents for the weekend and go out of town to visit friends – just the two of us. I really hope it works out because we *need* this time.

    I love my kids very much but we are mid-summer vacation and they are starting to get a)very bored and b) very obnoxious. We’re running short on patience and I firmly believe that time away is one way to rebuild the patience bank.

    It has gotten a lot easier for me to leave the kids, especially now that they are 6 and 2. When J was still breastfeeding, we came as a set. Period. While that was wonderful, it became very difficult for me in the depths of winter when he was around 7 or 8 months old. I couldn’t get out with A LOT of planning and forethought and it was winter and we were housebound anyway. I’m loving their growing independence because it gives me a chance to feel like an adult again.

    • Breast feeding definitely changes the dynamic; I didn’t leave either of the girls overnight until after they were a year old. Dan and I have done a couple of weekends away — I’m remembering a trip to Ithaca New York to see my sister graduate — but this summer is especially busy with child-free trips. It’s weird, and I miss the children — did I avow my love for them in the post? Because I LOVE MY CHILDREN. Der. — especially my sweetheart of a baby boy. But I am finding it vital for my well-being. I just wonder if it’s the “norm” to start leaving the kids on their own so you get date nights, or if other parents do it later, or not at all! It’s sounds like Dan & I are pretty much average!

  2. The boys routinely stay with my in laws over night. They’re with them primarily when I go out of town, too, because somehow M always has to work those weekends/evenings (:snort:).

    I admit, it was hard at first. With D, it wasn’t until he was about 3-4 months old. I think it was sooner with R, but I was so much more paranoid with him because of the NICU fiasco. It’s getting easier with time, and sometimes I really crave the time off because I’m with them most evenings and do bed time near constantly.

    That being said, M and I haven’t had a night *away* from the boys in . . . ever. We’ve had them stay with his parents, but we’ve never been actually out of town together. I think we’re doing that in September, but I’m not 100% sure.

    Rest assured you’re not a bad mom (or wife) because you need time away. We all need it, and my trip to Nashville was one of the best ones I’ve had since the boys were born because I got the heck out of dodge and out of the same state. It was kind of awesome.

    Enjoy Philadelphia! 🙂

    • Yeah, one of the hardest things for me is that I do dinner duty all on my own almost every night, and bath/bedtime the majority of the the time, too. Those few evenings that dan is home early — and most weeks it’s only Saturday/Sunday eves — it’s such a relief to either “off load” the girls’ bath and bedtime to him (although he dawdles!) or hand him the baby and the bedtime bottle. Juggling three all alone? Tough. But I just do it most of the time because that’s what it is.

      These weekends away are terribly refreshing. I can’t remember the last time I slept until 9:30 on a Sunday!

  3. Dawn, I completely understand your worry for the caretakers instead of the children. The most difficult time for me was leaving them while Kenny and I went to Ireland for 11 days. The kids were 10 and they were bounced around with relatives… I was across the ocean…and I started to freak out about Erin’s peanut allergy. Luckily, my sister Mary gave me half a valium…it knocked me out and I got some sleep…but it was hard to leave them without any parents. I had a magical trip with my family, full of great memories. We have to do it…our kids need to learn about themselves and others…Mommy can’t always take care of everything. I see now that my kids are 14,,,I totally babied…Alexander…so watch yourself with little Michael! It is easy to do with those baby boys!

    • Thank you for the warning about baby boys. 😉

      I think it would be harder to leave the children in the case of medical issues. If one of the kids had had an ear infection for example, I would’ve stressed about medication. So, I understand your freak out!

      And, yes, something I’m intent on teaching my kids is that I am a person, too, not just a mommy.

  4. […] Like I said, I could go on and on. The company was stellar, we actually accomplished wedding-related stuff, and I got to discover a city I had never visited in depth before. Yeah, yeah, I missed the kids (eventually) and my husband (actually almost immediately upon checking into our hotel room), but sometimes, you just gotta get away. […]

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