We had it all planned out: My husband and I would leave our little girl with my mother on Friday night. We’d drive to Houston and stay in a nice hotel for TWO. WHOLE. NIGHTS. Two whole nights of sleeping straight on through until we felt like waking up, be it 8 AM or noon. We’d eat breakfast together, and sip our coffee leisurely without having to set it down a hundred times, only to return to it three hours later and finding it cold. We’d get to go out to eat without constantly picking up food that our kid spit on the floor, or her shoes that she likes to take off and throw. We’d get to dress up in nice clothes and attend a wedding, without worrying if our little Nugget would smear boogers on us right before the event started.
But alas, our Nugget’s immune system had other plans.
The night before our big trip, Nugget started running a low fever. No biggie, I thought, I’m sure it’s a mild cold. Nothing my mom can’t handle! But by Friday morning that “little fever” blossomed into a 103 degree, roaring beast of a fever. Nugget couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat, and just laid miserably in our laps for hours. By Friday afternoon, mere hours before our pre-planned vacation was to begin, we had to call it.
Vacation cancelled. Womp womp wooooomp.
Our suffering was now two-fold:
- That our precious child was suffering so miserably, and since it was a virus (or so the doctor said), there was nothing we could do but wait it out. Hell hath no fury like a mother who can’t make her baby feel better (fury at the doctor, not the baby).
- Our glorious, beautiful, amazing, blessing of a couples retreat was ruined! The future oasis of peace and calm that we used to get ourselves through the week was taken before our eyes! Our freedom! Our independence! All gone, only to be replaced with a weekend of sleepless nights, no showers, blah meals, and grumpy attitudes.
All weekend my husband and I moped and griped, saying things like, “It’s just not fair! Nugget was supposed to have a great weekend with Grandma, and we were supposed to have couple time!” and “Why is God punishing us?!” and “Now we’ll NEVER have a vacation and we’ll hate each other FOREVER!” (You can see how stress was causing our logic to deteriorate.)
The peak of the weekend happened on Saturday, mid-morning. Nugget’s fever spiked to 103 overnight – that’s with medicine you guys – and she started throwing up anything she swallowed. She slept for a total of 2-3 hours the night before. She. Was. Miserable. After holding her crying for what felt like hours, I told Tim to pack it up, we were going to the hospital.
Thank the Lord God Almighty for pediatric nurses and doctors. Though they made my daughter scream with blood draws and IV insertions (I swear I cried more than she did), they also played with her and gave her toys. One even blew bubbles for her. The best part? They gave her medicine that got her fever down to normal.
Whoo-hoo!!!! I could have kissed them, danced for joy, thrown petals and jewels at their feet! Hallelujah!
Nugget kept the medicine down, and by that evening was eating bits of toast and drinking liquids again. As of this morning, she’s pretty much back to her normal, spunky self. Praise God!
But while we were so incredibly happy for her health, my husband and I were still so incredibly frustrated that we didn’t get the time away that we so desperately needed.
At one point I told him, “This weekend is my Lenten sacrifice.”
He laughed and said, “I don’t think so. You didn’t offer this voluntarily.”
But actually, I did.
The moment we decided to have children, I volunteered to deny myself in service to my child, when necessary. I volunteered to put her needs ahead of my selfish ones. I volunteered to stop just living for myself, and instead work my rear-end off living to get my husband and children into heaven.
Now, I’m not saying I would do all of that and neglect myself. Of course I need to also care for myself, so that I can better care for others.
But what I’m saying is that, in the old days, Single Me would have days, weeks, and months where I did anything I wanted. I did most things uninterrupted. I could have time to myself whenever I planned to. It was all about me and what I wanted/needed.
And now, Mommy Me has to consider others in the mix, as well. “Me-time” is shorter, more scheduled and endlessly more valuable. Greater now are the times I deny myself to care for her. Endless times I got up in the night to care for Nugget, or cancel plans with friends because Nugget needed to sleep or was sick. Over and over, I denied myself to serve her. My love for her outshines any vain love I have for myself. I’d do anything for her. I’d even die for her.
What greater love is there?
No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. – John 15:13
The moral of this long story is this: While it’s important to take care of our personal health, it is also important to take care of our marital health, which is why our couples retreat is definitely, for-sure, don’t-care-if-we-have-to-spread-it-across-3-credit-cards, being rescheduled for another weekend. Because sometimes we have to drop everything and tend to the little bundles of God’s love incarnate that have been entrusted to us. And it hurts sometimes. It requires us to let go of our wants and needs, and to walk with God’s grace through the battlefield of parenthood. And maybe that walk is more of a zombie-shuffle full of cursing, but by golly, we move.
Thank God for the times when we have to die to ourselves to serve others.
Thank God for children, who give us so much love, and require so much of us that our hearts have to stretch in ways that we previously thought impossible.
Thank God for the gift of suffering, which if we allow it, brings us that much closer to the cross… that much closer to Him, who is Love and Mercy itself.
And finally, thank God for wine and dark chocolate.
The only way out is through. – Robert Frost
P.S. Dear friends, please pray for those who struggle with infertility and those pursuing adoption, that God bless their journeys with hope, healing, and parenthood.