So what was my major faux pas? To start with, on the evening that Keith Sr. informed me at 11 PM that we were departing for a six day trip in just a few days I went into mama-bear-panic-mode. What would I do with my offspring? Who would care for them and make sure they didn't perish? How would they eat, get clean clothes, remember....everything, or get where they needed to be? I expressed this to my perplexed husband who couldn't understand why my face was masked in distress rather than bathed in glee. I explained that I loved spending time alone with him and would enjoy being together, but my instincts were to protect those children, to keep them under my wing or within sight and I needed to know they would be well kept and guarded in our absense. He promptly picked up the phone, dialed, and secured the weekday services of his parents to oversee the home. Chet, he said, could run things over the weekend and Papa and Grandma would take care of things while Chet was at work (the two girls were not available as their schedules were booked solid with school and papers and finals).
I know, I should have been content. But I wasn't. I smiled weakly, for the sake of my so-pleased-with-his-solution husband, and went to bed with my head spinning. Chet has really escalated in the responsibility department, but he's not quite back to being a full time member of the household--and definitely not accustomed to watching the young ones with hawklike precision. As far as my in-laws, I have great confidence in their abilities. They raised six children of their own and did a wonderful job of it. And if anyone has eyes in the back of her head to keep up with the kids it's Grandma! However, they DID just celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary and the math puts them a little beyond the "running after toddlers" stage. I was concerned that Gabe and Lisa might just put them over the edge.
Then it hit me, that wonderful terrible idea of mine--"Coley loves to keep Gabe, Keith loves Fatty Bones (his own pet name for Lisa) and neither of them are working right now. Maybe they would enjoy having them for the week!" When a little devil speaks into one ear a little angel is supposed to counter-whisper in the other. My angel must have been off duty.
There were other aspects to the plan that seemed picture perfect. I was already committed to driving a truckload of furniture up to their new apartment on Friday (yes, they were just moving into their new place on Friday). I could just leave the kids then and we'd take off early Saturday (5 AM). Our return the next Thursday (11:30 PM) timed perfectly with their plan to come home Friday for Ellen's Saturday graduation. It was as easy as making a reservation on the Titanic.
So, I asked and they said yes. Go ahead and say it, "What were you thinking!?" The truth is, I just wasn't. My sole purpose was to protect those little cubs and I knew just who was best cut out to do that--no matter that they'd only been married for thirteen days!!
The cubs came back in one piece, very well cared for, watched over, fed, watered, groomed, and oblivious to the havoc they certainly caused in the life of this newlywed couple. I could not be happier about the wonderful care and dedication that my babies received.
As for my role as mother-in-law and mother-of-adult-child, ohhhhhh am I in the doghouse. I will not live this one down.....ever! It will require of years of payback.
All that said, through it all Keith Jr. provided me with the quote of the century. While talking to me on the phone about Gabe's runny nose, Lisa's endless questions, baby fingerprints on the windows, Gabe's refusal to nap, the cramped apartment, Gabe escaping up the stairs, Lisa's boredom, bodily fluids on the new couch, Gabe's never ending explorer instinct, the unseasonably cold weather, Nicole coming down with the flu, Gabe getting into the curtains, Lisa's continuing chatter, and the twenty-four hour a day commitment he said,
"Having kids all day all the time is hard. It's a lot of work.
It's not as fun as not having them."
When you think of all the new parents who ask themselves, "What have we gotten ourselves into?" I do get a little satisfaction knowing that Keith and Nicole will not be so blind.