We didn’t go on a honeymoon.
This isn’t a complaint, it’s just a fact.
We got married on a Saturday, spent the night in a hotel that borders my hometown (I cannot remember which town it was, actually. This is more a testament to my selective memory than how long we’ve been married; we celebrate just our third anniversary at the end of this year), and on Sunday, we flew back to Boston for TJ to be at work on Monday morning.
I wouldn’t change a thing about our wedding, or the busy season in which we had our wedding. A busy season is a blessing; it generally means we’re working on dreams. Or at least doing stuff that pays the bills, which in a lot of countries is the dream, period. Now, I might change the way we left our wedding–squished into the back of a car full of people, instead of driving off into the sunset with just my love–but we’ve had plenty of romantic drives like that since then, so really, I don’t waste time on regrets.
But our lack of honeymoon has served us well in the 2.5 years since. Every time we think about taking a weekend away, one or both of us will help sway the final decision by saying: “Well, we never did go on a honeymoon, so…”
And now, a weekend away might not sound like something very amazing. When we were dating, it was fun, sure, but every day was fun. We went out when we felt like it and stayed in when we didn’t. If we wanted to read quietly, our biggest hurdle was simply choosing which book. When we wanted to run to the gym, go out for some food, take an hour cooking dinner and then another hour savoring our effort, we simply did it. It was easy and we ruled our destiny with our whims and desires. Even loving each other was easy because we respected each other’s boundaries, wanted the other to do whatever gave them life, did not interrupt each other’s sleep on a regular basis–if at all–and were (and continue to be, FYI) adept at wiping ourselves. It was downright idyllic.
And then we had a baby. And man, I can’t imagine a more beautiful little human to make me so exhausted and suddenly upend my schedule entirely. I adore this girl with everything that makes up me. This is a fact is a fact is a fact.
This is also a fact: I remember holding my perfect four week old baby and looking at the dishes longingly. THE DISHES. Now, this may have had something to do with the fact that every last hormone in a woman’s body goes out with the placenta upon delivery. Because, see, I’d never for a day in my life looked at dishes with anything more affectionate than a vague sense of responsibility. Like the annoying person at the party you keep engaging in conversation with–not because it’s enjoyable, but because you made a commitment to be kind, or responsible or whatever–that’s how I’d always felt about housework. But this sudden longing was the first I’d ever known anything so romantic towards a dirty dish.
The dishes were piled high in the sink and I wanted to show the world (aka my husband and my dog walker–the only two adult people who even saw me or my apartment regularly at the time) the control I have over my world by presenting a spotless sink.
By getting up and washing them.
I wanted to do it so badly. And like an itch that, for whatever reason, you just can’t scratch, the longing got more demanding the more I tried to ignore it.
But my newborn baby was not the kind that hangs out in swings cooing contentedly, a la every baby swing advertisement. My Charlee Jane was basically only happy when she was skin to skin with me. And her preferred version of skin to skin was her mouth to my boob. Now at eighteen months, it still is one of–if not her most–preferred methods of comfort, and when people ask me when I will stop nursing, I say we’re right on track to weaning by her high school graduation, so yay.
These days when I go into work on a Sunday morning and someone asks me if my weekend has been “restful,” I pause. Do I answer with the truth, or are they simply employing one of the many ways we Americans say hello (you know, like the question “how are you?” usually doesn’t leave room for a full report on your depression, your cat’s latest bout of diverticulitis, the recent grudge you’re holding against your stepmom and please, nobody has time for all three).
Usually I just say the weekend has been great and skip over the part about being up since 4:30am with a little girl who is absolutely worth being up with since 4:30am. I don’t talk about treating the gym like my own personal cross fit session because I have 15-20 minutes max before the gym daycare buzzes me to retrieve my crying, discontented-AF-in-a-swing child. I don’t talk about how, when she does nap, I go into my own version of the situation room and prioritize my life. There, I weigh one demand against another: Shower? Cleaning? Laundry? Writing? Prepping for my classes? Talking to TJ? All of these things battle it out and sometimes I end up showering and sometimes I end up talking to TJ in peace and quiet with dirty hair.
Usually our apartment is messy and there is always clothes in our hamper. Okay, so that’s a good day. When enough laundry is done to only have the remaining dirty clothes fitting neatly IN the hamper, that’s what we call a job well done. A lot of the time, dirty clothes are cascading out of the hamper like a frozen Niagara Falls of last week’s underwear and running tights. It’s gorgeous, really. Basically the 8th wonder of the world and you’re welcome to come and take a selfie in front of it anytime you’d like.
All this to say, most weekends are not restful. Most days are not restful. And every day, I’m up before 6am, sometimes before 5am. Not necessarily to catch the worm, per se, more to make sure my child does not eat the worm–or a rock or dog kibble or anything else she will happily put in her mouth. I’m up trying my best to be a good parent and the rewards for that are totally worth it. But not a single one of the rewards is rest.
So, dear co-worker who has yet to be a parent, the answer is decidedly and always no. The weekend was glorious and I can tell you some beautiful wins we had along the way–Charlee ate dinner with us for fifteen whole minutes and not a tantrum nor a dish was thrown! Quick! Text all the mom friends and they’ll celebrate via many emojis of joy because they know how awesome this is!–but it was definitely not restful. That’s why I wear makeup. It may not mask my dirty hair, but it sure helps the circles under my eyes. Without it, you wouldn’t even think to ask if the weekend was restful; you’d know the moment I walked into the room that it wasn’t.
And now, I’d like to explain my current situation. I’m laying on a beach chair in front of the Atlantic Ocean. My husband is right next to me and he is reading a book. We both slept eight hours last night. We even lingered in bed before getting out of it. Then we lingered over breakfast. We’re lingering so much today, we have to be careful, as it is bordering dangerously close to loitering and we all know that’s illegal just about everywhere.
Charlee is home safe and happy, spending special time with her grandparents. Since arriving here, we’ve poured over a few videos of Charlee laughing and squealing while running through Boston’s sprinklers, having the time of her life. Her grandparents are doing their own version of laughing and squealing, too (though that’s where the similarities end, as they’re not exactly diving through the sprinklers, too), as they get to be with their granddaughter away from us. That means Charlee is relating to them instead of constantly begging to be held and nursed by me. It’s awesome for so many people. I’m thrilled to be such a huge part of my baby’s life, but I think the healthiest kids know they’re loved by lots of different people, and the really lucky ones are loved from a few different generations, too.
But here’s the kicker. TJ and I are spending quality time together. We’re away from our baby for a few days, but it’s a gross misrepresentation of the truth to end the story there. We want Charlee to grow up in a home with parents who love each other. We want to give her that stability of heart. That doesn’t happen by spending lots of time on each other while dating and then never again–or the occasional date night if you can swing it–once you become parents. Love is the kind of thing that happens because you prioritize it. You create it with lots and lots of time. You don’t rely on something you did long ago (like, I don’t know, wedding vows, maybe); you constantly reaffirm and reinvent it by creating a current and vibrant life that reflects the choice you not only made once in the past, but make now. And now. And now.
So this is why we spend time and money in order to linger with each other far from others. We do it for each other, and we do it for our Charlee girl.
And finally, if I did go into work tomorrow (Sunday) morning, and was asked if my weekend was restful, I’d get to say a resounding YES. If someone could speak emoji, I’d punctuate that yes with every celebratory one in the book. The Book of Emojis. Which should totally be a thing.