Win Win

This past weekend, Bill and I went away for a belated celebration of our wedding anniversary and a pre-celebration of my upcoming birthday.

We drove three hours north to Paso Robles while our teenagers stayed home by themselves. For the first time. Ever.

When asked how they’d feel about being left alone, both kids were amenable without being overeager (a small comfort to parents who remember Risky Business all too well).

We then called upon no fewer than six different families (including our next-door neighbors) to be available for contingencies; and as the date approached, we asked Jack and Karly repeatedly if they were still on board.

Some may think this is overkill; others probably think we were insane to leave them at all.   To these people, I offer this simple statement:

We know our kids.

For their part, Jack and Karly loved their temporary freedom, rising to the occasion with unexpected kindness toward each other and appreciation of us. When I thanked them for supporting our little vacation, Karly admitted this:

“Mom. It was a little vacation for us, too.”

Indeed, it was.

They got to eat the junk they craved and rest when they were tired. Instead of me nagging them about homework and cleaning up, they simply did it – at some point – on their own.

Because we let them, they took care of their chores, our dogs. Each other.

Of course we were nervous and yes, we missed our kids. They might have missed us back.

But if not, that’s okay, too. That’s not what this is about.

It’s about preparing them to be on their own as much as preparing ourselves to live without our babies sleeping under this roof each night.

It’s the catching of breath each time Jack steps out of the house, his wallet and keys in hand. It’s the details untold after a “Tell me everything!” when Karly returns from her first day of high school.

This tenuous balance of holding on and letting go leaves us grasping at please be carefuls and I love you, toos with crossed fingers and racing hearts.

I know there will be mistakes to forgive and successes to cheer. For them. For us.

But ready or not, they’re building their own lives. It’s our job to give them the tools to do it – brick by brick, breath by breath…

…and then hope our leaps of faith will earn a win-win for us all.

Speaking of winners:

Signed copies of Heidi Cave’s beautiful memoir Fancy Feet  go to…

…KLZ of Taming Insanity and Erin Margolin. (And do you know about The Gay Dad Project? If not, check it out!)

I can’t think of two more deserving recipients.

As for the rest of you? Go buy Heidi’s book immediately. In fact, go buy a bunch of them. They would make excellent gifts for the holidays.

Just be sure to keep one for yourself.

Win. Win.

24 Comments to Win Win

  1. by Renée Schuls-Jacobson

    On October 2, 2013 at 6:45 am

    Julie: You are so very beautiful. That is all.

  2. by tracy@sellabitmum

    On October 2, 2013 at 7:35 am

    Oh Julie – I so love this! You’re an amazing parent and person – and I am not just saying that because I am ever so grateful that you are older than I am.

    In other news – I can now go to the grocery store by myself as I leave the kids at home. Baby steps. xoxoxo

  3. by Alison

    On October 2, 2013 at 7:51 am

    Of course they were okay – they have such good parents!

    Happy Belated Anniversary!

  4. by Poppy

    On October 2, 2013 at 7:51 am

    Your post has inspired me to try it for real this time. I have had plans to leave my oldest overnight twice. Both times, I found a reason to change plans. If she has a kegger, I’m totally blaming you :)

  5. by heidi

    On October 2, 2013 at 8:17 am

    This “But ready or not, they’re building their own lives. It’s our job to give them the tools to do it – brick by brick, breath by breath…” is beautiful and what I want.
    Thank you for your generosity. I love you to bits.

  6. by Charlene Ross

    On October 2, 2013 at 9:20 am

    Every time I have an email announcing you’ve written a new post my heart sings a happy song.

    Love this so much. Dave and I are going out of town in a few weeks and are wondering ourselves if our kids (as you know one a year older than Jack, the other a year younger than Karly)are ready to be left alone for the weekend. (Honestly – the older one yes, the younger one… hmmmm)

    Still deciding. But I love that you did this. For you and Bill. For Jack and Karly. I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. (It sounds like you did.)

  7. by Ally

    On October 2, 2013 at 11:37 am

    Oh this resonates deeply, seeing as how I just left my “baby” at college. There just doesn’t seem like enough prep time to be ready to have them living mostly independent from us. Or us from them. Sigh. But good for you ALL for doing the weekend away successfully. Good job, Mom and Dad. :)

  8. by Tarja

    On October 2, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    Forget about the kids (ok, well not really) – I want to hear about the getaway!!!!!! I hope it was as awesome you’d hoped. You guys deserve it. xoxo

  9. by Missy

    On October 2, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    So happy to see your name in my in-box today!

    My boys beg to stay home alone all the time (They’re 7 and 4, so it’s not happening any time soon; the 4-year-old also asks, in complete seriousness, to drive the car. They may have some misconceptions about which freedoms they can handle.). It’s so hard for me to envision the day when we CAN give them that freedom. I know it’s coming, though, and sooner than I think. May it go as well as your maiden voyage did! Such great kids you have there (and I’m glad you got away to celebrate, too!).

    Fancy Feet is on my list – can’t wait to read it!

  10. by Nina

    On October 2, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    Good for you guys for getting away!! The idea of not having to pay a sitter a small fortune sounds AMAZING! But back to you guys–It’s awesome that you can trust your kids. That’s no small thing. I’m sure plenty of people have reason to believe they couldn’t leave their kids alone. It’s a testament to your relationship with them that you could do it.

  11. by pat starrett

    On October 2, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    Cheers to two great parents and two beautiful children (responsible
    teenagers!).
    Love to all,
    Pat S., cousin

  12. by Julia

    On October 2, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    Oh how I love this. The first time at home without the parents is a huge milestone! I’m proud of all of you. Happy birthday and anniversary!

  13. by Courtney

    On October 2, 2013 at 9:41 pm

    Ahhh – leaps of faith – what a wonderful gift for them while you and Bill celebrated you! xoxo

  14. by Arnebya

    On October 3, 2013 at 9:04 am

    Oh, the teetering thing called balance — stay, let them go, don’t go, you need independence, stay. I hope you had a wonderful time away. All we can do is teach our kids well and hope that when we walk away they were listening (espcially about sparklers on the bed or aluminum in the microwave because OMG GET SOME WATER, FIND SOME FANS! (sorry, I flashed back to 1983)).

  15. by Lady Jennie

    On October 3, 2013 at 11:50 am

    That is such a scary and exciting thing to think about – our children getting that old, life moving that far along . . . wow.

    Happy Birthday-Anniversary. Ours are all close together too.

    I need to remember to order that book next time I order from amazon US.

  16. by Robin

    On October 3, 2013 at 5:45 pm

    Happy Anniversary and birthday Julie! I can’t believe your kids are now teenagers and, yes, able to be alone without parents. And this is because you gave them the tools to do so. Enjoy your life at each amazing milestone. You and Bill deserve it.

  17. by Cameron

    On October 3, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    Well done, Mama – and happy anniversary :)

    I hope I’m as good at this gig as you and Bill are.

  18. by Greta

    On October 6, 2013 at 4:34 pm

    Eeep. I’m glad I have several years until I have to worry about this. You sound so calm, but maybe that’s because it’s after the fact. I’m glad you and they had a great time! I’m going to Paso Robles this week…is it fabulous?!

  19. by Jessica

    On October 7, 2013 at 4:31 pm

    I need you to be my “letting go” coach. I’m not very good at it, someday I hope I can do it as gracefully as you.

  20. by Mrs. Tuna

    On October 14, 2013 at 6:26 pm

    Sheldon only escaped us by moving out and getting married. It wasn’t at all awkward when this past weekend when I went to visit, I made her husband sleep on the couch so we could cuddle. Nope, not awkward at all.

  21. by Hallie Sawyer (@Hallie_Sawyer)

    On October 21, 2013 at 10:25 am

    I look forward to the day we can do this as well. My oldest being 14 won’t be my worry, it will be the younger two boys. I’m afraid my window of opportunity will be very small as my oldest is 7 years older than the youngest. When she’s gone off to college, I’m so screwed.

    Oh, and happy anniversary! We just celebrated our 16th last week and had the chance to get away as well. My mom stayed with the kids. :)

  22. by erin margolin

    On October 21, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    You are so sweet. I am soooooo late to comment here. I still can’t believe I won this, and I hope you chose another recipient since I already own & love this book.

    I also think it’s awesome you left your kiddos—and all went well on both ends. You deserved the time away and the kids are older and comfortable with hanging out on their own for a few days…it’s definitely a WIN!

    xoxoxo

  23. by Mandy

    On December 3, 2013 at 4:23 pm

    I missed this until today. (Because I’m lame like that.) And then I yelled at the computer screen (quietly, because I’m at work) that you were in my neck of the woods!!! And I didn’t know!!! And I could have hooked you up at a couple wineries (wine club memberships have their perks), pointed you to the winery that serves grass fed Kobe beef burgers with a sweet caramelized onion topping for lunch, and told you to have dinner at McPhee’s in Templeton.

    Next time you’re up my way, let me know. :)

  24. by John (Daddy Runs a Lot)

    On December 20, 2013 at 7:38 am

    I dream of a time when my kids are self-reliant enough to be left home alone. But I hate the thought of them being self-reliant to be left home alone, at the same time. It would be great if my kids could make themselves something for dinner and put themselves to bed and brush their teeth . . . but the thought that they wouldn’t need me to do those things is just too much.

    And happy anniversary — my 10th is right around the corner . . . a big screen TV is the traditional gift, right?

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