Halfway point: not by hours or even days, but by bedtimes. Jörn and Lukas flew to Germany last Thursday evening and will be home again this Friday at lunchtime, which makes a total of eight nights. Helen especially was really missing Papa tonight and took ages to settle. We've had an arrangement ever since Jacob was born that suits me very well: at night, the baby is my responsibility, anyone older is Jörn's. I might help put them to bed (and since October last year we've started a new bedtime routine which has me involved every night), but once I've finished my part, it's Jörn's job.
Thursday night I was at my Greek class (I took Elisabeth and Jacob with me--Elisabeth fell asleep in the car on the way there and stayed asleep the entire time, so Jacob had a very easy babysitting job) and Marie put Katie and Helen to bed. Actually, that was pretty cool for me, coming home to a quiet house, although Elisabeth counter-balanced that with screaming for the next several hours (I took her to the doctor Friday morning, and sure 'nough, an ear infection), not to mention that I had to wait up until 1:00 a.m. until Jörn and Lukas had arrived at our friends' house in Düsseldorf and phoned me. (That's not usually all that late for me, but we'd had several bad nights in a row already with the developing ear infection.)
Friday night was the most difficult, as Marie was at youth group and Jacob went to the YWAM worship evening. That can't have been the first time I've had to get three small children to bed by myself, as after all, eight years ago I ONLY had three small children, and Jörn was regularly out at evening meetings. He even went to Uganda for almost two weeks when Marie and Lukas were almost exactly the ages Katie and Elisabeth are now, and Jacob was a year older than Helen is now. Of course, I do remember that as a fairly night-marish time, especially the night that ended for me at 3:00 a.m. when Marie threw up and continued to do so for the next several hours, joined after a few minutes by Jacob, and after another bit, by Lukas. At 4:00 a.m. I put on the first load of laundry. (And my friend Aileen drove half an hour one way to come pick up three loads of washed laundry, take it back to her house, dry it in her dryer, fold it, and then bring it back to me. Friends are so cool.) But strangely, I don't specifically remember bedtime being challenging.
Last night Jacob was out again (such a party animal--this time at an island-wide worship event taking place in Limassol), but I had Marie, so it went pretty well. She took Elisabeth for awhile while I read to Katie and Helen and sang to them, then when Elisabeth got too antsy, Marie took over and cuddled Helen until she was asleep. Jörn is generally out one or two bedtimes a week anyway, so that's not unusual, and Marie is a great help.
Tonight, however, Helen had apparently had enough. Four bedtimes in a row without Papa was too much. She actually told me to go away and that she wanted Papa to come cuddle her, and then said that she misses Lukas. Marie took over for a bit, then I went in again, and then it was Marie who finally got Helen to sleep, while I finally got Elisabeth to sleep. (She misses Papa, too. Last night she was crawling around the house saying "Pa-pa-pa-pa", and this morning when she woke up she sat up, grinned, crawled over me, stared at the empty other-side-of-the-bed, and burst into tears.)
Four more bedtimes to go...I don't know if Jörn was planning to go to the YWAM worship night this Friday, but if so, I'm going to lobby for him to take Helen with him.