When you tell people that your husband is leaving you alone with five kids to go on a hiking trip...or biking...or what have you, you get a variety of responses. Some people (men mostly) enviously ask, "How long is he gone?" or "Where did he go? That sounds great!" Some people (mothers of young children mostly) ask, "How long is he gone? Do you need anything? When is your turn?" Some people simply ask "Why?" They wonder how he can justify it, how you can support it, or maybe secretly IF you support it. They wonder if it's Biblically defensible to do such a thing, or a little selfish.
I've written about my husband's first camping trip, and how it led to an identity crisis for me. I'm not there anymore. Now I totally "get it" that he needs time away. Maybe it's because now I take yearly jewelry-making trips myself. Maybe it's because he comes back so refreshed. Maybe it's because the kids are a little older now, and the whole thing is a lot less daunting. Maybe it's because his several international trips of two weeks have made these 5-7 day trips seem like nothing. (Well, almost nothing...the night I was trying to finish up teacher gifts and teacher cards on the heels of celebrating a child's birthday was a little stressful.) Maybe it's understanding more of God's grace to me and being able to extend it to him in response.
All the same, for those who wonder, here is why I think these camping trips are a good idea, even Biblically defensible:
1) God made us to need rest. That's what the Sabbath is all about--a gift from Him for our tired bodies and tired souls. And in this day and age it isn't always easy to rest. So sometimes you need to get away so far that you can't be reached by cellphone or email or nervous-nelly wives.
2) The change of routine is good for all of us, even those who are left behind. It's good for the kids to have a few days of realizing mom can handle things on her own, and to learn to pitch in a little more than usual. It's nice to be reunited after a time apart--it makes us all appreciate each other a little more. I've even found I can be more productive on some of these long weekends of single parenting when there is no compelling reason to make a fancy dinner or clean the house.
3) It's good to enjoy God's creation, and though you can kind of do that in Illinois, I think you can do it better in the mountains, or by a lake, or somewhere equally beautiful. Seeing new parts of the world lends a certain perspective on our faith. It helps us remember that God is bigger than our little family, or our little corner. It's impossible to see a beautiful vista and not be driven to worship if you're a believer.
4) It stretches us. I don't know if my husband was stretched on this trip, but I know I was stretched by him going. Hiking snow-covered mountains in June that are supposed to be attempted in August when the snow has melted, well, I didn't like that part. I wasn't real thrilled to hear they needed helmets and ice axes. Add to that three very optimistic men, and it could have ended badly. I let my husband go knowing that there was a chance he wouldn't return, but knowing that if he didn't, it was okay. God was still in control. My husband wasn't taking an unreasonable risk, and I knew he could just as easily die on the ride to work tomorrow morning as on top of a mountain. I'm happy to report that he is returning safe and sound. And I'm also happy to report that I let him go and I didn't fall apart. My faith grew a little this week.
What do you think? Are there other good reasons for a week away from wife and children that I haven't thought of?