I almost pulled it off. It was supposed to be a surprise. And if you knew me and you knew my husband, you'd know that surprises just don't happen around here. That's simply because my husband is a great guesser and I just can't keep anything from him.
It all started a few months ago when he would whimsically say to me, "Let's get out of here just us. When can we go away for a few days?" To which I'd laugh and say, "Yeah right. We have four little kids for somebody to watch now. In your dreams. Maybe in another year or so when the littles are a bit older." But after a few times of him inquiring, I started thinking that maybe I shouldn't laugh it off as an impossibility. Maybe now was time. And even though it'd be difficult to figure out, that he was worth the trouble.
So I called in the troops, (grandparents on both sides who live ten minutes apart) and they very graciously agreed to watch all four of our monkeys for 24 hours each so that we could get two full days away. And then I swore them all to secrecy and was determined Steve would not find out the surprise this time.
That was over two months ago.
In the meantime, I researched bed and breakfasts in one of our favorite little local towns, looked up hiking trails, saved money for dinners out from cookie sales and kept my darn mouth shut. I did this for weeks.
Elliana was already losing interest in nursing so, I took the opportunity over a few months to wean her so that we could really be by ourselves. Steve has had to share me with either pregnancy or a pump for the last seven years when we've been able to get away and so this time I wanted to be free if possible.
Everything was going along swimmingly and I only had one more day to get through until early this morning when Joshua woke up crying. "Mommy, my tummy hurts!" I thought he was just hungry since he'd refused dinner the night before (he doesn't like tortellini so he didn't get dinner). I gave him a cracker and sent him back to bed. Meanwhile, I got up and went for a run. When I came home, Steve was with him and I saw it...the infamous bucket. And I knew, he was throwing up.
I took one look at the bucket and burst into tears. Steve was totally taken aback. I'm not a crier (ask any of my close friends and they'll tell you so) and so Steve was really shocked I was crying over throw up. What he didn't know was that I knew this was going to put a huge wrench in the plans I had so carefully made over the last two months. I couldn't help it. I just bawled.
When I got myself together, I told him the whole thing. He just sat there stunned. I kept blubbering, "I wanted to bless you. You weren't supposed to find out like this. Now it's all ruined." Real positive...yeah I know. Meanwhile, my poor little baby is laying next to our bed sick. Sometimes, we just can't see past ourselves huh?
As Steve and I talked through the situation including my major disappointment as to how it unraveled and the possibility of us cancelling, he reminded me yet again of God's sovereignty and how we deal with disappointment (after he held me...don't worry he didn't start out "fixing it"). It's like we always tell our kids. We plan and God secures our steps. Things happen in life. They can be super disappointing but we have to be thankful. And ultimately, if our kids are sick, they're our responsibility. That's part of being a parent...no one else needs to take that. It's on us even when it's totally inconvenient. Even when it ruins a potentially incredible weekend away.
I knew my kids were watching-especially Isaac. He was totally tuned in to me being upset. So I had to talk with him about it. I explained that I was disappointed that we might not be able to go away that weekend. But that I'd try and change my heart to be thankful that God had given me so much.
Whenever I think about it though, I still tear up. I am totally and completely disappointed in the whole thing. If Joshua gets better and no one else is sick tomorrow, we still might be able to go. But I had really wanted to surprise Steve. I had already pictured the look on his face when he came home from work discovering that all of the children were gone. It was going to be so perfect.
Yet sometimes, what I think is perfect just isn't what God has for me. This realization causes disappointment and often it causes pain. Yet for whatever reason, God moves for my good. I believe that. And really, this disappointment, although big at the moment to me, is really very small.
We can go another weekend.
I can be "true" to my disappointed feelings and have a good cry. But then I need to cast them aside, pick myself up and move on.
Being a mother has taught me this. And this situation is just another lesson in the grand scheme. There will be many others.
So if we don't get to go, I'll be teary but will try my best to be thankful. And if we do get to go, I'll be very pleasantly surprised.
Not totally the surprise I was looking for but hey....at least there will be a surprise somewhere in there.
Either way, God will help me deal with my unmet expectations and life will simply continue to roll on. It always does. And I'm thankful for it.
CJ Mahaney’s Christmas Book List 2017
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