Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Large Plans Writ Small

We were invited to a weekend party last Saturday, celebrating ten years of marriage for some old friends of ours.  We met them in Arizona, and there were six of us who got married that year, three couples in the same summer, all meeting on the west coast, and marrying on the east: Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and New York.  It was Massachusetts who celebrated this weekend.  We were planning to camp in their big backyard, but our air mattress pump exploded in the car on the way there (necessitating a short stop at a wildflower sanctuary, where we aired out the car and waited for the smell of whatever chemical was hissing from the pump into our vehicle to dissipate).  So we had no air mattress, and then the toddler displayed a marked reluctance to sleep in an unfamiliar environment when it came time for his sorely needed afternoon nap.  We ended up driving there in the morning, and home again in the evening.  It was a long, but beautiful drive across New York State, and our son slept much of it, giving us a chance to talk and reflect on our own upcoming ten year anniversary.

I've always liked big plans.  If we're going to Texas and Louisiana to visit the in-laws, I'm all about stopping to see any friends we can along the way, or researching campsites, cities, towns and sightseeing along the way.  We hosted Thanksgiving the month after we moved into our new house, even though it meant sitting on folding chairs, and we held my sister's engagement dinner on our deck where the families of the bride and groom first met.  We've probably hosted a big party for family or friends at least once annually since we got married.  So when my husband suggested that we, like the friends we were on our way to visit, host a huge get together later this summer to celebrate our tenth anniversary, and we began to talk about a guest list and menu, I was surprised to find myself feeling a mounting sense of dread rather than excitement.

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I waited half a decade to have children after I felt ready, or that I didn't bother to substantially grow up in almost any area of my life until after I was 30 (no career, house or children until after that), but I really don't miss being in my twenties at all.  I don't miss going to bars or parties.  I don't miss having a big group of friends with whom I lounged around, wasting time by the hour (although I miss and still love the people, I don't miss that phase of my life).  I don't miss going out unencumbered by children.  I don't miss late nights, or lazy days with no babies hanging on my limbs.  Don't get me wrong; I loved it.  At the time.  But, God, do I love what I've got now, and for right now: I love it so much more.  I wouldn't give a single one of my messy mommy days for a blast from the past.  I'll get those days back again, some time when my children are older and less in need of my limbs for crawling and cuddling, and my attention for teaching and soothing, and my whole heart for every minute they're awake and in need of mama.  And, honestly, I'm in no hurry.  I'd slow it down if I could.

One of the biggest changes for me, since becoming a mother, is that I've gone from very, very fly-by-the-seat of my pants to very, very routine-oriented.  My husband is a happy man, as he's always preferred routine, and I've always been tearing him from it, dragging him into whatever next adventure I could find.  Suddenly I'm settled, at long last, and it's as if I was born to be this way.  I love the rhythm of knowing what comes next, and how my son will respond.  I love the way the rhythms and routines of the day offer so many opportunities to teach, and so teaching my son flows naturally from what we do each morning, afternoon and evening.  I love the lull of sameness, like a slow song playing in the background on repeat.  I honestly don't know who's most comforted by it: myself, my husband or my son!

And a huge summer party to plan?  Waaayyy outside of the routine.  Way, way outside of it.  So far outside that it will not only disturb the routine of the day itself, it threatens the routine of my whole dang summer!  Planning and purchasing, and budgeting, and cleaning, and landscaping, and to-do lists with a definitive date hanging over our heads, and ..... no.  I'm just not up for it.  I've done it before, and someday I'm sure I'll do it again, but hosting huge parties, much like traveling, is something I feel no sadness in setting aside for the time being.  Much like I felt no sadness in setting aside stable employment for the whole decade of my twenties.  Heh.

On Father's Day morning, I let my husband sleep in, and when he awoke we hit the grocery store for fresh bagels, cream cheese, and strawberries for the kiddo and myself, and a sandwich of his choice from the sub shop for daddy on his special day.  Then we drove to a favorite park, with a playground overlooking a lake, and ate breakfast out of grocery bags at a picnic table.  We timed it so the toddler would fall asleep on the drive home and segue into a peaceful afternoon nap.  It was simple.  And it was good.

We decided to book a small cabin on a beautiful beach about an hour north of our home for a long weekend to celebrate our tenth anniversary.  We can drive there easily after I get out of work that afternoon, and toss most of the food we need in a cooler.  There's a pizza place/pub right near the cabin, and it's a half mile walk to the beach.  I'm so looking forward to our regular routine, replacing beach with work in the morning, sticking with the afternoon nap, cooking a simple dinner over a camping grill, or grabbing slices at the pizzeria with a cold beer for my hubby in the evening.  Watching the sun set over the water, and walking a short half mile back to our temporary home for a few short days of simple sameness.  Right now, nothing could sound better to me.

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