It was saying goodbye to Elsie Mae that triggered those tears. She was sound asleep on our waterbed. I laid down beside her for just a moment to hold her. In her sleep, those sweet little arms reached up and around my neck, she smiled and then giggled softly. Finally, she sighed and snuggled in, her nose touching mine, whispering, "Mama..." She still smelled like the sand she'd played in outside most of the morning, the moussaka that she'd devoured at lunch, and the yummy baby soap that I'd just used to wash her... to try and remove all of that dirt. If it hadn't been for the carload of ladies all waiting on me, I might have changed my mind right then and there.
10 March 2008
A Weekend Away-
Last weekend, I had the opportunity get away... to a ladies' retreat... here in Niger... without ANY children... You know, this is the first time that I've gone away, leaving Tim and the tribe, in maybe forever. I've been sitting here racking my brain to see if I can recall another time, and it seems like I've always had at least a nursing baby, if not 1 or 2 other children tagging along. This time it was just me - 2 whole days. I had been anticipating this weekend for probably 6 weeks.
Yet as I pulled out of our courtyard, driving our Landcruiser packed with ladies and all of their weekend necessities, and headed for the retreat center (a place called Siloé) about 20 km outside of Niamey, I was thankful for this escape... and I was also thankful that I had on my dark sunglasses so that no one in our laughing, cheerful group could see those unsubmissive tears that stubbornly refused to mind and stay put, just like my kids!
Right before leaving, I'd gone back into the house to say goodbye to my gang while Tim finished strapping all of the luggage down to the rack on top of the Cruiser. Brendan and Anna were busy on a computer game - they were almost too busy to even notice I was leaving. Rebekah and Nadia were back in their room, bemoaning the fact that they'd probably have to spend lots of time watching Elsie Mae and Jonathan instead of doing what they wanted to do. Jonathan was fascinated watching his dad climbing all over the Cruiser and wanting to give it a try himself. Tori had a few tears - when she thought I was looking. When she thought I was busy, she was planning out the videos she wanted to watch. They all gave me a hug and kiss, told me they'd miss me but that they were looking forward to watching movies with Daddy or playing computer games... maybe riding the horse.
But I didn't - I carefully unlocked her chubby fingers from behind my neck, snuck a goodbye kiss from my hubby, pulled my glasses down to hide my eyes, hollered at the kids one last time to behave, hopped on up into the driver's seat and off we went.
It was a fabulous retreat - I'll post some pics and talk about that more on a different day: lots of laughs, tears, challenge, reading, praying, singing, friends - both old and new - and especially some much needed UNINTERRUPTED alone time with the Lord. But I think the very best moment of all was when I pulled up to our gate, arriving home after returning several other ladies to their families. I immediately climbed out of the car figuring I'd have to pound on the door to get someone's attention to come out and unlock the door so I could come into the courtyard to open the gate and then pull the car into our courtyard... Opening the car door, I immediately heard cheers, hands frantically working to open the big gates, clapping and lots of squeals and screams: "Mama's FINALLY home!" As I climbed out of the car a second time, I was envelopped in arms from all directions. Even Brendan walked out to give me a quick hug. Jonathan came running and Tori grabbed ahold of my leg and wouldn't let go.
Elsie waited on the porch. She let me pick her up and hug on her - even hugged back. But then she had one thing on her mind. As I set her down, she grabbed my hand and led me back to the bedroom where she made it quiet clear that it was time for her to cuddle and nurse.
No doubt about it, the best part of leaving is coming home again! And it could never have happened if I didn't have a wonderful husband who is an incredible daddy and who was willing to make it happen for me - and the house even looked pretty good when I got home!