MOPS Convention… so….about the kids…..will they make it, without me?

I spent hours making and freezing healthy casseroles and filling notebooks with instructions for my husband. (And who ever else was caring for the kids.  Sometimes it took some fancy scheduling to make it to convention!)  I included a phonetic dictionary of preschooler terms: nana= blanket, sneezus= Jesus and usually meant he way praying….etc. I wanted to make sure communication would continue without my mom-terperative skills. I left a list of places to find things to avoid the inevitable call to ask “Where are my clean underwear, and do you know where the kids shoes are?” Being inevitable, the calls still came. (Funny how that works, isn’t it?

I left clean MATCHING clothes for each day. Because, I’m a good mom.

I left detailed lists of chores broken down by age/ person and day. Truthfully?  I just hoped someone would mop up the toilet misses before I got home. I should have included emergency cleaning instructions. Like for cat vomit and cheerios and mashed banana.  I also left a list of do’s and don’ts. Do bathe. Don’t do it in mud. Don’t let the children kill each other or harm the cats…. You know- simple stuff, like that.

Year after year, I went to MOPS convention, and left feeling refreshed by fun and connection. I was reminded of being a part of something even bigger than our local group. I was reminded that I am incredible and unique, and called….I also worried about my families managing without me.  I worried if they were eating. I worried if they could read my instructions on the casseroles….I worried about the cats. I worried about the morning they went to church without me… (umm matching clothing at church is important.. It’s kind of like visible holiness…rt?) I worried about what they were into and if they went into public restrooms alone.

Year after year, I returned hone, exhausted but refreshed.

I found ignored lists and a freezer full of frozen casseroles. (There are probably still some from 1992 in there… I was an over-achiever that year.) In the fridge, I found 4 days worth of half eaten McDonald’s meals and (now leaking) papercups of watered- down- by -melted -ice Sprite.  (What’s up with those cups? Why must they leak after 6 hours? I hate that!) The kitchen garbage was piled to the ceiling like a gross game of Jenga. (they need to be reminded to take it out or they’d all drown in yesterdays junk mail. )

Year after year I was met at the airport by a family on the verge of collapse and in some pretty interesting outfits.

It  took days for me to clean up all the messes that went ignored while I was gone.  It took days to get discipline back on track. Honestly, It took days for me to look at my husband without wondering how he managed to function at work if he couldn’t read. (I doubted his literacy- because duh! I’d written it all down!) It took days to catch up on laundry. (Ok I’ve NEVER actually caught up my laundry… I gave that up.)  For years, I got angry that things weren’t done MY way, while I was away.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

  • That appearance of near collapse at the airport?  It comes from having fun, not neglect. Who knew?
  • They won’t die if they eat the same thing for 4 days straight. (Even if it’s McDonald’s)
  • Dirt don’t hurt. (messes can be cleaned up, and will be eventually, maybe.)
  • Matching clothes have nothing to do with holiness. And the church ladies just smile at daddy’s attempts to dress children for church… they don’t write you off as a bad mom. well- some may but those are cranky ladies with too many cats.. just sayin.
  • No one will eat the casseroles, don’t bother.
  • Velveeta Shells and cheese and banquet chicken can be bought at the party store, hence avoiding the grocery. Men are crafty like that. It still counts as dinner.
  • Cat vomit is easier to clean up when it’s dry.
  • My children are way more resilient than I thought.
  • Husbands may think that letting the kids wear dirty(ish) clothes is actually HELPNG. It saves you laundry when you get home. Thank them for being considerate.
  • If you gripe about how things are (or are not) done when your gone… you can expect even less the next time you go. His way is the RIGHT way, when you’re not there. Deal with it.
  • When they call to ask you where something is…. remember: it’s kind of nice to feel needed…
  • By the time your kids are teenagers… they may send pics to your phone of things they do while you’re gone….. take a deep breath before opening… and know that if they actually DID break a leg jumping off the banister upstairs. while his brother snapped a pic of him in mid air….. they prolly wouldn’t have sent a pic…(yes this really did happen, and no, nothing was broken… )
  • I would have been disappointed if they could do it all my way without me…. (I hate to admit it, but it’s true.)

Here’s the thing, we can either go to Convention and be distracted by our controlling nature (hey- we’re moms, we can admit it.) and return home angry about all that went undone, or done wrong… or we can go to convention, count the messes and mayhem we find on arriving home, as part of the cost, and be glad we went.

After 20 years?  I choose the latter.

I’ve also learned what’s important and I don’t knock myself out over what’s not. This makes it easier for me to leave (I save hours not bothering with  frozen meals) and less frustrating when I come home. I make sure there IS clean laundry, but understand they will wear what they want while I’m gone. (And it doesn’t really matter.) Our lists of what’s important may differ, and your childcare arrangements may need different instructions… but we all need to learn what to hold onto and what to let go of to make Convention a reality that isn’t a nightmare….

What about you?

What works and what doesn’t, for your family?  Lists? Casseroles? Outfits laid out? (during the school year, I put them in gallon ziplocks arranged by day…. I’m like that) Or McDonald’s and dirty clothes because they’re “saving you work” by wearing them twice?

Can’t wait to see you soon!

In answer to my title question:  YES.

My oldest is almost 21 middle is 18 and my youngest is 8.  All have grown up being left each year for MOPS convention, all have survived;)

9 thoughts on “MOPS Convention… so….about the kids…..will they make it, without me?

  1. Jennifer Martin says:

    So true Tracey. I’ve never bothered making meals and going to write out lists(did’t have the energy or time) but my husband does ask for just a few “helps”. Lay out the children’s church clothes and make sure they know not to wear them before Sunday. List any birthday parties or important places they should be down. (I try to arrange someone to pick them up to take them and bring them home so he doesn’t have to load the rest up and try to act social!) And that’s it. I expect a mess that way I’m not disappointed when I come home and if they actually do clean (usually happens moments before I walk in the door) I am pleasantly surprised!

    See you soon!

  2. Tammy B says:

    You are SO right, Tracey!

    I have it much easier this year… my husband took the week off of work (he had vacation days he needed to use… his idea!). SO now I don’t have to CLEAN & prep the way I would if the in-laws we coming to watch the kids! WOO HOO!!!

  3. Shelby says:

    I have always been a controlling mom, and made sure everything was perfect as well, but I left one year to spend a week with my grand mother and realized that everything can be ran in the house perfectly without me doing it all and just let kids be kids!

  4. Shawna Lee says:

    I remember the year my mom called me on Sunday as we were driving home to tell me that my kids wore their MATCHING shirt/dress to church, and my daughter’s hair was fixed in PIGGY TAILS! By DADDY! The same man who couldn’t put my hair in one ponytail when I had surgery on both hands a few years prior.

    I didn’t know the real treat was waiting when I got home. He had painted our bedroom, polished the furniture, and bought a new vacuum to replace the one that choked on the dust bunnies under the bed (don’t act shocked – you all have them!).

    I still leave some lists and small notes, but I love that he enjoys the time with his kids.

  5. Elsa says:

    Daddy is staying home with the kids this year, too. I’m not going to bother leaving notes (except the daily “I love you. Be good.” notes I leave for the girls) or cooking freezer meals. They can make it across the street to Wal-Mart if they need more smack-a-balogna and sneeze.
    Daddy does things his own way whether I’m there or not, and they’re all still alive and happy, right? They’ll probably have a blast, just like I will, and they’ll be ready for some major cuddling by the time I get home. Just like me.

  6. Tara says:

    I left my husband with three kids while I took my oldest on a vacation to Florida. They all survived. It’s really good for the kids to have Daddy take care of them for a while! It’s also really good for Mommy that Daddy gets a taste of taking care of the kids for a while!

  7. Brandy says:

    The ONLY things I’m doing this year before hand is making a ton of mini muffins (so daddy can sleep a bit later and skip breakfast….the oldest knows how to hand them out) and making sure the house is clean and laundry is done. I don’t expect it to be clean when I get back. I’ve even been warned that it won’t be. “I can’t do what you do, I’ve told you that, so expect a mess when you get back.” haha! And already my kids don’t wear what I want when I want….. I’ve found a lot of joy in letting them pick their outfits everyday…even the 3 year old! Saves me a fight and huge headache, and sometimes their outfits aren’t really outfits at all…. if you ask them, they’re costumes for rock stars or cool dudes or ninjas. In that case, my every day “costume” is a pajama party. 😉

    Last year I left my mother-in-law (who came to stay while husband worked, bless her heart) a notebook with about FIVE PAGES of typed instructions. OY. This year, the husband gets a list of what groceries we have, and a letter that will beg him to let the kids snuggle with him in the mornings. He’s not a snuggler, they are, totally their love language. 😉

    Am I nervous? YES! But I’m also slightly worried they’ll have more fun with daddy than they do with me. Truth. 😉

    In the end though I know they’ll enjoy their time together, and I’ll enjoy my time away!!!! 😉 ha!

  8. Lori D says:

    LOVE THIS! 🙂 As long as my three kids are alive when I come home (which they always are!) I can let go of the type of food they eat, clothes they wear (how does he always find the stuff that is like WAYYY TOO SMALL?) and the mess the house is in. 🙂

  9. Alena says:

    This is the first year in 8 conventions that I am not freezing the meals and leaving a play by play! Ran through the basics with the sitters this afternoon and letting the rest go! It is very liberating! And, I told the sitters if the house is in the same condition as when I left (not perfect, but picked up)that there will be a bonus in it for them. Takes the pressure off dad and not as frustrating when I return. Looking forward to filling up! See you all in Orlando!!!

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