My girls spending time with Gary's folks in California: PRICELESS.
Time alone with Daddy: PRICELESS.
Waving goodbye to them as they drove away: PRICELESS.
One-way ticket to California because it turns out I can't stand to be apart from them: $354.70.
And that's why I'm sitting here at home still. Definitely some price gouging going on that targets heartsick moms. It hardly seems fair.
So, Gary takes the high school kids to Southern California every year for Spring Break. I think this is the 12th year. Way back then, it started as a small trip with maybe a dozen kids and staff combined. I don't know the exact numbers this year, but let's just say that they've gone from taking 1 15-passenger church van to taking a Greyhound bus AND the church vans. I think one year there were over 70 kids going. Imagine! This year, everyone fit on one charter bus, but still, that's around 60, right?! Anyway, they drive through the night and wind up at Gary's folks' house. Gary's parents are amazing and take all of the furniture out of their 1900-square foot house and put it in the garage, and the kids all sleep in sleeping bags like sardines in every room of the house AND camp in tents in the backyard. It's really a sight to see! His parents? Oh, they sleep in the van parked out front. Oh, and they COOK for everyone.
Anyway, our church sits between two school districts, with two different Spring Breaks. Gary was gone last week for trip #1, came home last Thursday night and left Friday night for trip #2. But before he left for the first trip, he suggested that maybe he could take the girls with him for the second trip and I could have a week alone.
NO. Not on your life.
I didn't even consider it.
But then I mentioned the preposterous idea to a few friends who only met my "can-you-believe-he'd suggest-such-a-thing" story with wide eyes and comments like, "And you're doing it, RIGHT?!" Um, no, actually I'm not.
But then I started thinking maybe it could be fun. So fast forward to yesterday as I packed a big suitcase for two little girls going without their mommy to California. I was so busy packing, marking off my checklist, bathing them, getting them ready... that I didn't have time to be sad. I did, however, give them a million chances to back out should they want to stay home with Mommy instead.
"If you stay home, we can go to the POOL tomorrow!" ("Emma loves the pool," I thought. "THAT will get her!")
"Mommy, if I go to California, I get to go to the beach."
So we met Gary at the church where the vans were loaded up and packed with kids ready to go. (The second trip is smaller, only about 20 kids, so they all fit in the two church vans.) We did the great carseat swap, threw their suitcase in, exchanged big hugs and kisses, and off they went.
I was a complete basketcase.
I followed them down the road, prepared to wave and follow along for as long as I could since that's our tradition when Gary leaves for trips. But as they raced through the, ahem - ORANGE - light, I was left behind. My sobs picked up. What was I doing? Why wasn't I with them? I tried to catch up, but I hit every light along the way, and kept catching glimpses of them going around turns or going through another signal I'd never make. All I wanted to do was WAVE and blow a kiss. I followed them unsuccessfully probably 20 minutes down the road before my gas light came on. I decided to be rational and stop for gas (for those around here, I was at Eldorado Springs before I gave up), lest I be caught stranded on empty far from home.
So I succumbed to the fact that maybe God just wanted me to let go and let Him be in control. Fine. But maybe, just maybe I could fly out to California and beat them there! I cried all the way home.
With a new mission in mind, I raced home only to find that a ticket there would cost $354.70. Again, I felt the Lord smiling and shaking His head and figured He probably wants me to enjoy this gift I've been given and trust that my girls could survive a week without me (and have FUN doing it).
So here I am. Saturday night. It's quiet in the house and has been all day. And you know what? Amazingly, I've not shed a tear all day. I was a little sad when Emma was busy having so much fun that she only had time to say, "Hi Mommy. Bye!" on the phone earlier, but I'm doing just fine. I have to figure out what I'll do this week and NOT feel guilty for it.
Cleaning, shopping, crafting, movie-watching, sleeping in, reading... why did I think this was not a good idea?
Oh yeah, because not seeing these little faces and giving them all the hugs and kisses they can stand just about breaks my heart. But I've been praying today that when they come back, they'll have a refreshed, re-energized and READY mommy and that they will have a bunch of stories to tell me.
Besides, $354.70 can buy a lot of cute, new maternity clothes! (Kidding, Gary!!!)