National Catholic Register

Culture of Life

Leaving Baby Behind

BY Tom & Caroline McDonald

June 24-30, 2007 Issue | Posted 6/19/07 at 9:00 AM

 

I’d like to take my wife on a long overdue weekend away, but our youngest is only 18 months old. The missus thinks that’s too young to be left. Is she right?

We are in the midst of discerning this very issue, since our “baby” turned 2 and our 15th wedding anniversary is fast approaching. Over the years we have found that every child is unique and each situation must be discerned. Here are some of the questions we ask; they may help you decide what to do.

Is the baby still nursing? With rare exceptions, like when Caroline had emergency surgery when our third was 3 months old, we do not leave our nursing babies. The bond from the nursing relationship is so important that a sudden interruption would be incredibly stressful for both baby and mom.

Will the baby’s siblings be present? Our 2-year-old is fine when we’re away for a few hours as long as his big brothers and sister are there to mind him.

Will the caregiver and surroundings be familiar? Is the sitter a beloved grandmother who lives next door and knows your kids like her own — or is it Great Aunt Bertha, who may be saintly to you but a stranger to the baby? Also, will the kids be staying in your own home or in a house they’ve never seen before?

How long is the proposed absence? We wouldn’t consider a week-long jaunt if we had never left our toddler before, because we have no idea how he will react. We always start with a trial overnight run, and then work up from there if the baby seems fine.

If you prayerfully discern that it is a good time to go off, then be not afraid. Just do it. Your marriage relationship is important. It is right and good to have time alone to renew friendship and intimacy. Wives, you can go joyfully and devote yourself totally to your husband. Husbands, lovingly encourage your wives that things really will be okay. Her reluctance is in no way a rejection of you. It is an indication that she is a deeply committed mother. Praise God for that!

The McDonalds are

family-life coordinators

for the Archdiocese of Mobile, Alabama.