Monday, July 4, 2011

Absence

Last Wednesday my kids left me.  There was a family reunion planned in Alberta this year, but since Brent was scheduled to work a major long weekend holiday during the reunion, he couldn't get the time off.  We also kind of bought a house this year so our summer plans are of the cheaper variety, and gas being $frickspensive!$ these days, we figured we couldn't pull it off.  Brent's parents, however, offered to take the three boys with them.  A week with no kids?!  NEVER!  No, sign me up.  No, WAIT!  I had ambiguous feelings about this prospect, obviously.

I'm aware of the irony that having a four month old, high strung BABY *feels* like no kids when her three older brothers are gone.

I've never been away from any of my kids for an entire week, and now three of them were going away for a week all together.  It was hard.  Especially with Riley, who still breastfeeds three times a day (and if he had unlimited access, a lot more times than that)~that was hard to think about.  It was harder on me than him, I figured, since he had the open road, three brothers, and two grandparents to keep him company.  I anticipated missing him a lot, and enjoying some peace and quiet.

The first day was kind of nice, and I didn't really miss them that much.  The second and third days Brent was working day shifts so it was just me and Amarys, hanging out.  It was BORING.  It made me remember what life was like during my maternity leave that first year with Ayden, where the days were interminably lonely and draining at the same time.  Having nobody to talk to all day long except an infant isn't NATURAL.  This feeling surprised me.  I had figured I would soak up the solitude, but I was really bored.  Not bored for activities, because I totally organized two closets, two dressers, and one entire bedroom, as well as vacuumed and did laundry and made yummy dinners and did some errands.  But I was bored for people to interact with.  Funny revelation.

The fourth day, yesterday, Brent took the night shift off (long weekend festivities being over by Sunday night, because the Canada Day stat was Friday) which meant we had alllllllllllll day together, just the two (and a half) of us!  It was blissful.  We slept in, facilitated by high strung by day, miracle sleeper by night baby, until 10:30.  Brent made us french toast, bacon, and fruit salad for breakfast.  We went shopping for clothes and Brent got a shirt 50% off and I got shoes: regular price $80, marked down to $40, then on sale an additional 30% off to $27.98, and THEN I had a coupon for 15% off your entire purchase so in the end I paid $24 for $80 shoes.  SHAZAM!  That's how its done, ladies and gentlemen.
Then we went to White Rock and walked along the boardwalk for two hours in the warm sunshine!  We had take out fish and chips at Moby Dick's (the best fish and chips in all of Canada, I assure you) and ate it on the strip of grass between the boardwalk and the beach.  There were two sandcastle masters there making this giant Celtic style knot out of sand and we got to watch them finish building it, and then watch the tide sweep up and dissolve it away.

White Rock pier
painting by my friend Janet
 We talked and were quiet and ate and enjoyed each other's company...it was awesome!  Amarys sat in the stroller peacefully and didn't require any behavior containment, questions answered, supervision, or general policing of violence towards brothers.  We then went to the movies with a coupon~entirely free, 2 admissions, 2 drinks, 1 popcorn all for free!  We saw The Hangover II....very funny movie, though of course not nearly as funny as the first which is always the case with sequels.  We forgot that although you can take a four month old baby to the movies with you, when you take a baby who has just learned to babble, it can be kind of awkward.  Brent stood for most of the movie, off to the side so we wouldn't bother people, so it wasn't really the most intimate date we've ever had, but it was still fun.
Then we went home and Brent barbequed steaks, asparagus, zucchini, and slice up fancy bread for us, and we had the best dinner ever.  It was a fantastic day, and a 'freebie' in terms of dates because we didn't have to arrange for childcare, feel guilty about childcare, break the bank, or load the kids into the van at the end of the date and drive them all the way home and put them to bed.
We prioritize our marriage, but days like that come along far too few and far between.  By prioritizing, we usually mean simply that we focus on caring for each other within and in the midst of the chaos.  We aren't huge on date nights or weekends away, we don't believe that getting rid of your kids regularly is the key to a healthy relationship.  But that relationship does deserve focus, and it sure does appreciate days like yesterday.  We always talk about a range of topics; the kids, cars, what we would do if we won the lottery, politics, world events, dreams for the future, extended family, work, funny things that happened recently, and stuff.  I like that, it reassures me that we have something that will last even after the kids are all gone and the work is all done and the house is all paid for.  To have a whole day where we can talk and then have quiet moments and not feel like we're wasting them and then talk again at our leisure, was so fantastic.  Yesterday I didn't miss the older kids at all.
=)

The boys come back tomorrow night.


Having four kids means that people constantly make comments about the size of my family.


Wow, you're a busy mom!


I guess you don't work, your life is busy enough working at home with all those kids!


You've got FOUR kids?  Wow, you're crazy!

Honestly most of the time I get tired of this.  What's the big deal?  If you've got one kid, you could have four and it's not that much different.  You're already in the pool, you might as well swim with more company rather than less.  We already have a rhythm in our family, adding another kid to it doesn't make too much difference.
But this week without my older three made me realize how much I DO.  It's like being on a treadmill for eight years, increasing the speed gradually and then getting off the treadmill for a week.  When you're doing life with four kids the work keeps coming at you like the path on a treadmill, whether you are on top of it that day or not, and you do it and do it and do it because it's got to be done and you've been doing it so long you hardly even notice, but then you get off for a week.  And boy, do you realize just how much stamina you've had for the past eight years, and it feels like an accomplishment.
I like the treadmill, it works for me.
Holidays are also nice.

=)

3 comments:

Louise and Gary Chapman said...

Can I have Brent's parents?

Jen said...

So awesome. You guys rock.

Well said, about prioritizing the marriage but not requiring kid-free time to do that. 'Caring for each other within and in the midst of the chaos'... right on. I am just learning this. So important!

And I can so relate to the bored at home with one child feeling! We're currently praying for more company in the pool!

melissa said...

Sorry, Wheezer. I don't share well....

=P

And Jen: YAY FOR MORE!!!!!