I envy friends who can drop their kids off at Grandma’s house for a weekend. Having lived away from family for my entire marriage and parenting years, I’ve never had the luxury. Add to that the fact that I homeschool, and I can count on one hand the number of times I have been in my own home without my children present for more than a few of hours.
If I want to go somewhere, I call a sitter. If I want to go on vacation, I wait 13 years then ask the grandparents to make the long drive to Minnesota and watch the kids. If I want alone time in my house, particularly overnight, I can forget it.
This is my normal.
When a friend gave me a certificate good for 24 hours without my children for my 40th birthday, I was thrilled. But I never cashed it in. I kept telling her I wanted to save it for when I could really enjoy the time alone without the pressures of the world ruining the experience.
Well, the pressures of the world just kept mounting. And my friend knew a tired mama when she saw one. So she upped the ante and offered to take the kids for a whole week. She said she would do grandma duty, spoil the kids in ways she refused to disclose, take them swimming and cart them to a super fun VBS extravaganza every night.
Only an idiot would decline such an offer.
Though I was excited, it felt foreign and unsettling on every level to think about my kids staying somewhere else. Especially knowing it was so that I could have some mental rest from the frenetic pace of my life. The whole concept is outside my paradigm. I am the fixer, the helper, the Safe Families host mama. I don’t ask for assistance, I give it. Thank you very much.
But I knew they’d have fun and that the break would be good for me.
When the day came to drop them off, my husband noticed I was very quiet. The truth is, I was tied in knots. My mind raced with worry. Will they be ok? Will they miss me? Will Ty get scared at night? Will they eat? Will Violet brush her hair? Will the dog chew Ty’s teddy bear? Will they be polite?
It was all I could do not to pick up the phone and cancel.
This friend has a beautiful home. She is a mother of eight children. As an adoptive parent five times over, she has had social workers poke around in every nook and cranny of her life to assess her ability to love and care for children. She is also a grandmother. She has counseled countless families and helped them navigate adoption and foster care. She is trained in caring for kids from trauma. And she runs an organization that background checks, vets and trains families to keep other people’s children safe.
I was still nervous.
Even if the circumstance is happy, a mother’s heart is bruised when she faces separation from her children. It is in a mother’s DNA to hold her babies close, fret about their safety and want to be near them. This truth transcends time and place and culture.
In my unease, I realized that this was likely just a tiny taste of how moms in crisis feel when they have to leave their children in the care of a stranger.
I was being given the gift of rest by a dear friend. I know her well. My children know her. And I was still apprehensive about sending them. I can’t imagine being backed against a wall by crisis and needing to send my kids to stay with a stranger.
The brave mamas we serve through organizations that offer crisis hosting are asked to trust host families – strangers – with their precious children. I know their hearts ache at the thought. Yet these strong and courageous women do it. Recognizing a need for support, they make the choice to protect their babies and ultimately strengthen their families as they work towards stability.
It’s a sacred trust we host moms don’t take lightly.
I hope and pray that those of us walking alongside moms from hard places always respond to their hearts with compassion, empathy and encouragement. Regardless of their choices, their circumstances or their situation, may we be slow to judge and quick to be kind. And may we always remember to honor their role in the lives of the kids we serve.
“If we truly love the kids we will love their parents. Why? Because the kids want that the most.” ~Dr. David Anderson
Will you join me in praying for the moms who are missing their babies due to hard circumstances? Pray they find rest. Pray they experience healing. And pray they remain strong in the pursuit of their goals for themselves and their children.