This week, the kids have been at camp.
Last year, they went from Sunday to Wednesday and I thought I was going to crack I missed them so much.
This year, they’re gone from Sunday to Saturday and we have enjoyed this parenting week off.
By we, I mean me and Bray.
Months ago, after registering the kids for camp, I decided to plan a surprise belated anniversary get away for the two of us. First I booked an all-inclusive resort in Mexico. But with us both needing to work and the logistics of sneaking his passport topped off by the fact that in the back of my mind I knew he’s not a total lover of surprises, I scaled back. I did my research and found a little spot in the Hill Country where we could stay in our own secluded cottage away from the inn but still have access to their meals and their pool and hot tub and their hiking trails.
Once we got to this weekend, I even let the kids in on the secret so they could help me sneak the luggage and cooler into the car underneath all their camp gear. While they loved being part of the surprise, they did warn, “Mom, you really shouldn’t lie to dad.”
After camp drop off, which went far more easily this year, I took the driver’s seat and headed east. Not south toward home. After about an hour of driving, I sprung the surprise on him with great delight. It all tumbled out. My planning and the Mexico detour and the kids involvement and then the punchline, “So we’re staying Sunday through Tuesday in this cottage in the Hill Country.”
Quiet, then “Are you serious?”
After a little more back and forth, he panicked a little because of all the work he had to do.
So we turned back toward Houston to grab his work gear before driving to our getaway.
You see, I LOVE surprises. My husband does not.
Despite the less than auspicious beginning, the retreat was exactly what we needed. There was work, for him, but there was also rest. Something sorely lacking in our lives, especially lately with intense jobs and intense kids schedules. We talked and we laughed and we had serious conversations. He said, while we watched the sunset after dinner, we need this more. I was reminded of how fun and flirty we were before kids. Neither of us would change for an instant the amazing family of five we have. But parenting involves the less fun side of you all too often. Discipline and schedule and doctors and homework. You’re in it together but sometimes it feels like quicksand instead of Disneyland.
After we returned, we kept leaning into each other.
Which meant another gift from this week was the reminder we’re in it together for the not-kid stuff too. I’ve been so fortunate to have close girlfriends. So while we do the kid part of our life together, I regularly deal with other parts of my life with girlfriends. Not this week. Every night, I was with Bray. Thankfully and gratefully with him. So after we got home from our two days away, we kept the conversation going.
I’ve been going through a pretty painful sifting of a friendship. It’s left me with a hurting heart. As my best friend says, we have so little time to invest in adult friendships that the loss of a dear one can be enormously painful. So I’ve been working through all that with my husband. Laying out my wounds, my mistakes, my worries, and he has been incredible. He acknowledges the pain and helps me walk through it.
I got frustrated about a situation at work and I blew up one night about it. After he laughed a little, because my reaction may have also been entertaining, he let me vent and he talked me back to a realistic approach.
One night, we went out on a date to a restaurant I’d been dying to try, but one night we ate chips and dip in front of the t.v. while trying to wrap up the 10-part Vietnam War documentary we’d started a year ago.
We did life together, just the two of us. No one else. No dinner parties or double dates or meet ups with friends. We’ll do those and we’ll have those, but this week was a marriage gift.
It reminded me that when these amazing kids drive off to college in 9 years, we’re going to be okay. We really like each other and find each other interesting and have lots to talk about that doesn’t involve the kids. Of course a lot can change in 9 years, but we want to make us a priority. So we’re going to try. And I couldn’t be more excited about our next adventure together (plus we’re super excited about picking up our kids on Saturday morning because we have missed them!).
**And if you’re wondering why all the pictures from our week together are of scenery, he refused to get in pictures. “We already know what we look like,” he advised.