It was a casual question that instantly spurned a lot of unrest inside me. The query wasn’t as complicated as I was making it out to be; yet, my response to that occasion was going to reveal unspoken truths about my trust, my authority, and my mothering. Was I willing to face fears that I didn’t know I had before that moment? How much had I ever revealed about my dreams and my reservations?
My husband patiently waited for an answer.
What did I think about the kids going to Illinois for the summer? my brain repeated.
I prepped to give my first reaction, then paused, silenced in introspection, mouth open to reply.
If I said, “It scares me,” he probably would have thought me demented. However much of that certainty, it really did.
For one, Jrue and Jai has led a pretty contained existence until recently, but not by choice. Because we live so far from both maternal and paternal familial sides, we do not have a lot of relatives or friends regularly visiting the house. Jrue started daycare just two years ago, and Jai has not yet begun, making for some timidity and some unplanned reclusiveness on their parts.
The notion was to send them to my stay with my sister-in-law and her girls for six weeks, per her request, as they would get to play freely and do some unique activities that the kids would not have gotten to embark upon at home. Mom and dad worked during the day, meaning that Jrue and Jai either had to sit at our office/destroy all in sight or play with their same toys every day until school started again.
In no way did we want either of the latter scenarios.
That guarantee didn’t stop any of my initial foolish assertions, though. I ran through them all. “Jrue has a specific schedule.” “Jai is just a baby.” “They don’t know anyone personally up there.” “Jrue may become ornery because of his ASD.” Et cetera.
All of these excuses reflected a wasteful selfishness on my part. After I dumped them from my mental faculty, I felt suddenly exposed and ashamed.
Who did I think I was raising, and why was I choosing to shield them from unknowns? It is not my place to put restrictions on my children; I had birthed citizens of the globe. How else were my Jrue and Jai supposed to see and experience the world? How else would independence and confidence and growth persist if I molded a sense of trepidation in them before they even had a chance? They needed more than me. It was far from fair that I was projecting my fears onto my children. They deserved better.
I didn’t cave in. I consulted and compromised.
We agreed on a four-week trip. The hubs and I would treat it like their first sleepaway camp. We will return to Illinois in July, a lovely weekend break for us, and pick up our babies. The weeks with no kids would give us time to deeply clean the house and revamp some of our bad eating and exercise habits in time to host our family reunion at the end of the month and prepare Jrue to go to kindergarten.
Beyond those perks, we remembered all of the singular dates that we wish we had taken and the times we needed a short “time-out” from parenthood and the fact that many parents in our places would sacrifice a finger if it meant a chance at just a bit of quiet for a while. We deserved to dote on one another and put our relationship first for the time being. The hubs and I needed to pour from full cups, so refills were overdue. We were not unrealistic at the demands parenting has placed on our marriage. For four weeks, it would be about what we wanted to do and not what we had to do.
And Jrue wanted to go on a trip. He adored traveling in the car and looked forward to hanging out with his aunt again, as he did a few months ago when the hubs and I went to Florida.
I couldn’t say no to all of these impossible benefits.
“I think it’s a great idea” was my response to his question.
I covered my children in prayer and sent them on their ways. They were instructed to call me and promised to video in. Daddy and I decided to make a care package and will send it halfway in.
During our trip back home, after we had swiped at goodbye tears quickly so that the other wouldn’t tease, I felt peaceful. The feeling was unexpected and incredibly comforting. The babies have sounded nothing but grateful and joyous over the phone.
I feel like such a Super Mom.