I remember it so very clearly, a fall weekend in wine country. We started planning as soon as grandma offered to give us an extended break to reconnect because she assured us, we “deserved it”. Of course, we were appreciative. We just needed to be comfortable enough with my mom’s ability to follow carefully written instructions, to get the formula right and to have updated her CPR skills.
Actually, now that I’m thinking about it, it was just a Saturday night, and not the whole weekend. But we were there in Santa Barbara, just the two of us —alone. Our eight-month-old daughter was at home with grandma and we were ready to get our wine on, enjoy a leisurely dinner of filet mignon and calamari steak, and maybe even cozy up by the fire with a night cap before canoodling up the stairs at the B&B we had booked for our first weekend away from baby. We were ready to get the good times rolling. It was going to be magic.
Except it wasn’t.
What we failed to take into account was that we were sleep deprived, mentally taxed, fumbling versions of our former selves that set out with good intentions. Given the chance to take a break to reconnect translated to us succumbing to the realities of our new existence which was not much to speak of. After the 2.5 hour drive up the coast, we managed to stop at a few wineries for tastings before checking into our hotel, unpacking and changing in time for our 8 o’clock reservation.
We sat there in the candlelit dining room, visibly tired from the drive, or maybe woozy from the wine, or maybe just because we were still technically new parents. We were quiet for a while until we began to think out loud. I wonder what she’s doing. Do you think mom gave her a bath? I miss her.
Then the text came through. A picture of our girl, asleep in her crib, and it was just the permission we needed to step outside and make a call.
How is she? Did she fall asleep okay? Did she eat enough? Did you change her diaper? She needs a recheck before you put her down.
Mom was not amused. She apologized for disrupting the moment and urged us to put the phone down and to return to our table. The thing was, we wanted to hear from her. We missed our daughter. Even if it was only eight hours since we’d seen her last.
Had we known this was just the beginning of a future of precious little time to connect with each other, we may not have let our steaks get cold, and we may not have fallen asleep back in our room, on top of the bedspread before the 11:30 start of Saturday Night Live. Or maybe that was just what we needed.
What I’ve learned since then as a parent is this: If you expect nothing, you’ll get everything you could ever hope for.