Just the Two of Us
Last week my husband and I dropped two-thirds of the children at the grandparents’ house and the other third at camp. This meant we were alone, the two of us, for the first time in a very, very long while.
As we waved goodbye to the camp bus a friend asked, “What's the first thing you’re gonna do?”
“Probably go out for breakfast and stare at each other in shock,” I said.
My husband nodded.
It's not that we I don't have a relationship outside of our parenting one, but over the course of our decades together, it's become rare, if not unheard of, to bring a conversation to its full and natural conclusion. Our children may be physically mature enough to walk the earth in relative serenity, but they’re not yet emotionally capable of going more than a few minutes without fighting, threatening to die of hunger, or suddenly and inexplicably breaking dishes and bones. Conversation is stilted when conducted over the din of crunching glass.
We sat down at a table for two and ordered.
“How's your food?” he asked me.
“Great,” I said. “Yours?”
“Pretty good.” He drained his coffee mug and poured more.
Adding to the morning’s confusion was the fact that it was Father’s Day. Families surrounded us, gaggles of children wearing whipped cream masks while swiping syrupy fingers across dad’s $500 smartphone.
There we sat, two parents, practically useless.
I couldn’t help but think of our first date, all those years ago when we were both skinny and full of the future. We spent that meal not speaking, too. I’d convinced myself he was boring. He spent the dinner trying to figure out what to say to me.
“What do you want to do next?” he asked, both then and now.
“We could see a movie,” I answered, “If there’s something good showing. But last time I checked, there wasn't.”
Back then, when people still watched movies on rented VHS tape, we hit the Blockbuster on the corner and headed for his couch. This time, we chose the modern-day entertainment equivalent and went to Costco without a list.
Two hours later, I looked at him.
"I'm glad I met you," I said then.
"I'm glad I married you," I say now.
"Me, too." He says, both then and now.
Then we looked at each other in that goofy romantic way no bystander should have to witness.
The kids may have changed parts of us, but they haven't changed everything.