I have the best husband on the planet. No, really, I do. About three months after we got home with Hannah, just shortly after her lip repair, it became apparent that mothering four children 'round the clock was really wearing me down. My ever so attentive husband texted me one day and told me that I ought to consider a weekend getaway prior to Hannah's next surgery, when my time, energy, and focus will be in high demand. At first I sort of shrugged it off and said I didn't really know where I would go, etc. About a month later I asked him if he really meant it and he said yes, so I began making plans to go visit my sister and her wonderful family in Michigan. It had been two years since I last saw them and three years since I'd last been to their home (which, by the way, is located in the most perfect of locations). She quickly agreed to host both Jacob and I on a long weekend retreat. A time to get away, not have to be so needed for a few days, to rest, recharge, and rejuvenate. It was a chance to get away to an oasis of being fairly responsibility free.
It turns out that our eldest needed the retreat away almost as much as I did. It is hard work being the oldest child in a family, especially when that family is going through major life change. He has been so even keel much of the time, it has been easy to overlook his need to get a break, but upon our arrival to Michigan, it was incredibly clear that he needed it--perhaps even more so than I.
My sister did not fail to deliver on her promise to take good care of us. Jacob swam in a super cool water playground and had a private swim lesson in a pool. He shot off bottle rocket after bottle rocket and watched fireworks in the cul-de-sac with much delight. He drank way too much Sprite. He ate ice cream after ice cream. He learned how to kayak and conquered his fear of dogs (well, at least their dog). He made friends with the family cat and spent some time reading in the book nook. He stayed up hours past bedtime and slept in a tent in the basement. He explored the woods and saw Lake Michigan. He jumped on the trampoline and went on a dune buggy thrill ride. He rode the swings for the first time at an amusement park and tried a Dutch cookie for the first time. Seriously, it was a big boy's retreat. He needed it. I needed to see him enjoy it. He so needed the break from big brotherhood--a chance to hang with the big kids and not be held back by two four year olds and a two year old. I loved being his mom this weekend.
It was so great for me to see my nephews and see how much they have grown. How I loved to watch how mature they were to take their younger cousin under their wing--keeping him close in the pool, paddling the kayak for him, taking him out to the platform in the lake, and building rockets with him. The hand holding and arms around the shoulders were almost too much to bear. Seriously. How did I get so blessed with such a fantastic family? My sister made sure I got the rest I needed--not letting me help with meals much or cleaning up, telling me to stay at the lake as long as I needed, taking me to tour the spots I specifically wanted to see.
It was a whirlwind of a weekend and then it was time to come home and I assure you, there were many tears shed (not just by little people, either). I knew I needed the break, but perhaps didn't realize how badly until I got there and it was over. I am so thankful for my sister and for her family to host us and show us such a wonderful time. It was truly a wonderful weekend for us. It was also the first time I have left Hannah overnight (and I went big and stayed away for three nights)! She handled it fairly well and Daddy was amazing at keeping the three little kids well entertained and cared for in my absence. Since returning home Hannah has had a bit of regression, but when security is uncertain in her mind, regression occurs. I know in due time, she will realize Mama always comes back and that she can rest feeling secure.
Now? Now we are home and it is time to really gear up for what is yet to come. Hannah's next surgery is just 4 weeks away and we start back to school in just 6 weeks. It is time to make freezer meals, catch up on sleep, finish lesson plans, and get all the back to school supplies stored away. We are fully prepared for this surgery to really take a toll on Hannah--both physically and emotionally. Would you please join us in praying for her now?
I'll close by echoing what my nephew told my sister after we'd pulled out of the driveway this week, "Please don't let it be two years before we see them again." I couldn't agree more. Yes, please, don't let it be two years again.