It's been a long day. The kids have been sick and while I'm feeling better than they are, I'm still not 100%. The phone rings. It's my husband letting me know he's on his way home. I breathe a little sigh of relief that he's on his way. "It's been a hard day, can you hold the baby for me when you get home? I'm tired." I say to him. "Yes, of course." he responds. It's wonderful this partnership we have. Each day when he arrives home he helps me. He doesn't just sit around waiting for dinner to appear on the table. Most days he calls once he's left work, promptly changes when he walks in the door, quickly thereafter he's downstairs asking what he can do to help. I am aware of how lucky I am. He's amazing.
We're halfway through dinner when he receives a notification from his phone. He checks it. It's a text from a friend he hasn't seen in a while stating that he has an extra ticket to a basketball game. Does he want to go? He'd need to leave immediately in order to get there on time. He looks at me. He wants to go, I can tell.
Up until a couple weeks ago Greg had been having "Greg Night" a night where he could go hang out with friends, go to the hardware store, hang out in the garage working on whatever he wanted, or just sit and read - uninterrupted, alone. The last couple weeks have been busier and he relinquished his "Greg Night."
I reluctantly told him he should go. I was exhausted and flustered at the prospect of bedtime and clean up by myself, but he needed this. He is always sacrificing for us, the least I could do is bedtime by myself. Not only did Greg need some time for himself, but the kids seeing their dad get time to himself is vital, plus they need to see me respecting it.
The kids were disappointed when Greg left, but it opened up a conversation about why he'd gone out and why it was important for him to spend time with other people and/or do things by himself. I had to explain that it wasn't because their dad didn't want to spend time with us, but that it was because it's healthy for him.
When you have young children you don't always have a lot of time to yourself. It is, however essential for your kids to see you enjoying yourself and making time for the things that you appreciate. Not only is it good for children to see their parents engaging with the world around them, it's good for them to realize that their parents have interests outside of the children themselves.
Of course I enjoy spending time with my kids, if I didn't I wouldn't have four. With that said, taking care of kids is hard work. Raising children is even harder. To say that you don't ever need a reprieve is to say that you can go and go and go like the energizer bunny. I need a break just like I need food and sleep. It's fundamental to my well being. My husband also needs this respite regularly. It makes us better parents.
My Grandma and Grandpa had five children in eight years. It was a busy time for them in addition to the fact that my Grandpa was a doctor and very busy. My Grandma also kept herself involved by helping out and leading various activities concerning her children. I decided to call my Grandma and ask her how she and my Grandfather did it. Did they take regular breaks?
"Oh yes, when the kids were young your Grandfather would come home and see that I was tired and tell me to take a break and get out of the house for a while." my Grandma told me. I questioned, "Well did Grandpa take breaks?" she quickly responded with, "Thursdays were your Grandpa's day off. On Thursdays he could go fishing, hunting, and so yes, he got downtime." This couple had a rock solid marriage, one with sacrifices made for one another on a regular basis.
Loving your spouse and sacrificing for them speaks volumes to your children. Encouraging, not just halfheartedly acquiescing your husband or wife to go out with friends, sleep in, or engage in a hobby alone is so very good for your marriage and for your family.
Tonight Greg returned the favor. Last minute I was able to go out with my best friend. We drove through Starbucks, got huge coffees (even though we're both nursing moms and it was well past eight o' clock), and walked around Target. It was awesome and I had a blast. We talked and talked about everything and I came home feeling fabulous. A little while after I got home our daughter was up and needed attention. I was busy nursing the baby, but when I realized that my help was needed I immediately jumped in to take over for Greg. That break that my husband supported me having had given me the energy to dive back in to my role as mom.
"And do not neglect doing good and sharing,
for with such sacrifices God is pleased." Hebrews 13:16