Friday, January 13, 2012

Time Away

Confession time: I have never spent a night away from Kermit. And the only nights that I've ever spent away from LL were when I was in the hospital with Kermit (three nights when Kermit was born, and another three nights when Kermit was hospitalized for RSV one month later). During the nights in the hospital, my mom stayed at the house with LL, and S visited every evening, to make sure that LL was okay. So while LL was away from me for a few days, he was in regular contact with me, and still saw S during the day, and I was only a short car ride away.

S has spent a few more nights away -- in addition to the nights at the hospital with Kermit, he also spent one night at a bachelor party and a few nights on business trips -- but that's it. No weekends away. No time at home while the kiddos visit with Grandma. I have spent every single night responsible for at least one child since LL was born more than three years ago. And I've never been more than a thirty minute drive away from either of my kids, ever. I have always always always been nearby, close enough that I can get to either or both of them if the need arises.

When S and I want to go on a date, we typically do "date days" instead of "date nights" -- we know that we have reliable childcare during the day that the kids are comfortable with, so when we want to go on a date, S and I each take the day off from work (or make strategic use of holidays, when work is closed but childcare is not, like this Monday's MLK Day holiday) and we spend the day together. Our typical "date day" involves a leisurely morning coffee at our favorite coffee bar, fancy lunch at a nice restaurant, early afternoon movie, then more hanging out at a coffee bar, often with a few games of cribbage or similar portable game thrown into the mix. On the rare occasion when we have actually gone out at night, we have typically gotten one of our friends to come over to babysit, we're home by 10pm, and I can count on one hand the number of times that we've done that in the past 3+ years.

Yes, I acknowledge that this is a little ridiculous. We should be going out more. We should be spending more time as a couple, away from the kids. And if we had local grandparents, I'm sure that we would. But childcare is hard. We have no reliable evening or weekend babysitters. Most of our friends have kids of their own now, and the few that don't tend to have very busy schedules. LL does not do well around strangers, so random babysitters are kind of out of the question until we can find one that we can introduce slowly. And twice now, we have tried to groom teenage babysitters from our neighborhood, only to have their parents decide that they should really be focusing on their schoolwork instead of "working." (As an aside: dude, when did parents start prohibiting kids from babysitting on Friday nights?!?) And I have no idea how we would possibly orchestrate a weekend away, because there is definitely no one local who could watch our kids overnight.

But, we are now facing a decision. One of our best friends from college is getting married. (He quite possibly is my best friend from college, except that I should probably give that designation to S, since I married S. But S and I were both close friends with this guy, all through college, and we've remained close.) He's getting married several time zones away from where we live. He has expressed several times that he really really wants me and S to attend his wedding. And he has also told us, somewhat apologetically, that he and his fiance do not want children at the wedding. (Yes, that is an annoying thing to impose on out-of-town guests with young children, but I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt and saying (a) he doesn't have kids so he doesn't realize how annoying a restriction like this is; and (b) he and his fiance deserve to have whatever kind of wedding they want.)

So... what do we do? The options, as I see them:

1. Bring the kids anyway. Seems kinda rude, if they're not wanted.

2. Bring the kids on the trip, then ask our friend to help us find a babysitter for the wedding itself. I'm not all that comfortable with this option, because I hate the idea of cooping the kids up in a hotel room for an entire evening with someone they don't know. I do not see it going well, at all. LL, in particular, would freak out (he's very very shy around strangers; we've tried this sort of thing before), and Kermit would absolutely never go to sleep. They would both be crying the majority of the time.

3. Ask some grandparents to come to our house to watch the kids while we go away for the weekend. I'm sure we could get one of the grandmas to agree to this plan, but it would be expensive for either one of them. (They would need to fly here.) Also, it makes me very very nervous that on my first extended time away from Kermit, I would be a plane-flight away. Honestly, this option makes me a bit queasy. (But only for Kermit; LL would totally do fine with this option.)

4. I go to the wedding while S stays home with the kids (or vice-versa). Theoretically fine, but seems very unfair to whomever doesn't go. Also, it would be very hard to decide who that would be, since we're both friends with the groom. Also, if I were to go without S, I know that I wouldn't have as much fun, so I'm not positive that it would be worth it.

5. Don't go. The ultimate in problem avoidance. Except that, well, then we would miss the wedding.

Am I missing a magical sixth option that is better in all possible ways? Any thoughts?


  1. 6. Grandma flies out (or drives, I have no idea where the wedding is relative to where Grandma is!) to the wedding, and watches the kids while you attend the wedding.

    7. You all travel to Grandma's house if it is relatively close to where the wedding is (again, I don't know if this is feasible), you and S spend one night in a hotel in Grandma's town (so this is now your first extended time away from Kermit), and then you and S drive to the wedding.

  2. Thanks, Rebecca. Those are better from a leaving-the-kids perspective, but they are prohibitively expensive, because we would need to fly for all legs of that journey. (Grandma is in Wisconsin, wedding is in Florida, and we're far away from both of those places.)

  3. I would probably fly Grandma out, if it were me. Or perhaps a magical internet option, where in Florida? If it is on my turf, I can find you a sitter that I trust.

  4. Oh, and I've just realized that my answer wasn't clear. I'd take Grandma on the trip with me. I actually thought about that for the wedding we are going to this summer, but it turned out not to be necessary.

    1. Sorry, having much trouble getting a new comment screen up. Here is my question. Given that your kids are in daycare, how long does it take them to warm up to new people? Also, is the wedding being held at a hotel? (This would make it much easier for you to go upstairs for an hour and put both kids to bed and then come back down to the event. If it's at an event space, can he find a spare room for your kids?). One idea is to make it a weekend trip (hopefully it's someplace warm in FL), use your friend or internet friends or IRL friends to find a nice friendly college kid and hire them to hang out with you for the whole weekend. That way, by the time you leave for the wedding on Saturday night hopefully your kids will be more comfortable with them. Any chance someone from the kids regular daycare is interested in a weekend trip to FL? My experience has been that for the price of a plane ticket, a place to sleep and a good meal you can usually bring along childcare if you are going someplace fun.

      Although I am sure you are right about your kids being miserable in a new place without you (although there are things you can do to mediate that: a movie, pizza dinner, new book, and given the time difference maybe no need to even try and put them to bed when you are gone?) I will say that in the big scheme of things missing a friend's wedding because your kids might be scared/cry/stay up late is not going to go over well. They are little and hopefully won't remember the bad night in a few days, whereas your friend may hold it against you for quite a while. It sounds like your friend has no kids yet and I am just guessing that they will misread this as some type of statement about how important your friendship is post-kids (mind you, this from someone who took their kid on 2 14-hour flights to a wedding just last month), so I would try to find a way to get there, even if you have to cut the evening short to put the kids to bed.

  5. Ok so first of all, do not apologize for not spending time away from your kids. I find this idea to be a very North American / British belief. My husband has spent nights away, I have spent nights away. I can count on 1 had the number of times I have let monkey spend the night away from me. I have both grandparents within 1 hour drive. I don't feel guilty about this. We're a family, thats why we had kids.../rant

    I was also going to suggest the fly a grandparent with you. Personally I think its crazy to ask friends with young children to come to a wedding without children without providing some sort of childcare. Most non-indian weddings I have ended have provided on sight childcare to keep kids away from the dinner but give parents piece of mind.


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