As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I finally joined Facebook. Many of my friends had been asking me to join for months but for one reason or another, I hadn’t. Once I finally signed up and set up my account, I encouraged Stephanie to join as well. This past weekend as I clicked over to her Facebook page to leave a message on her wall, I noticed that she had posted a new status comment which simply read, “Remembering what we did on weekends before we had kids!”
As I quickly tried to think of a witty comment to leave on her page, I started to think about the weekends we had spent together before we had children. It was a simpler time because our weekends were less structured and much more spontaneous. We woke up when we wanted to, we lounged around all day whenever we felt like it, and most importantly we didn’t need to pack up toys, snacks and various knickknacks that made us look like the most common tourist in our own hometown. We were free to do whatever we wanted to do whenever we wanted to do it!
Thirteen years ago, when Stephanie and I had first moved to Massachusetts, we woke up one Saturday morning and decided to run a few errands. After a couple of routine stops, we decided to go to the store and do our weekly grocery shopping. As I drove by the Stop & Shop parking lot and saw that it was full of cars, I passed by the entrance to the store and jumped on the highway.
“Where are you going?” Stephanie asked.
“I don’t know.”
“I thought we were going to the store?”
“Nope, it was packed. It’s a nice day and I think we need to find a new adventure.”
“What do you have in mind?”
“Nope. We’ll drive until we find a place. We can go anywhere we want and we can do anything you want to do, have any good ideas?”
“Anywhere? I don’t know. What do you suggest?”
“I have no idea but we’ll know when we get there.”
“I like that” Stephanie whispered as she smiled at me, turned up the radio and rolled down her window. And with that our journey had begun. We had a full tank of gas, some money in our pockets and the open road as our guide on a quest to find an exciting activity to enjoy for the day; just the two of us.
We took the road as far as it could go because we ended up at the ocean in Rockport, MA. We strolled around the town, popped into a couple of the shops and antique stores, had a nice relaxing lunch at a restaurant in the center of town and finally, we went down to the beach to feed the birds. When the sun was hanging low in the sky, we decided to take a casual drive along the coastline.
It was a great trek to a small little town in our new home state. We had a great adventure together and we explored the local neighborhood to our hearts content. We laughed, we joked, we talked about the big things and the little things going on in our daily lives and we just had a pleasant day as newlyweds.
We contemplated whether or not we should have gotten a room at the local Bed and Breakfast, but we eventually decided against it and started to make our way back to our apartment. As I was driving along the highway holding Stephanie’s hand, I turned to her and said half-jokingly, “Let’s decide not to have kids.”
“Think about it, we could be the cool Aunt and Uncle who show up and have fun with our nieces and nephews…”
“…And. Then. Go. Home!” Stephanie interjected as she half-jokingly participated in the thought of a life without children. We ran through all of the scenarios of how we could take our “aunt-hood and uncle-hood” to new heights of greatness as we flirted with the remote possibility of never having children. We were young and carefree but a few years later, our brief flirtation ended and we decided to expand our family.
This past weekend, though, at six fifteen in the morning, I heard Chloe rustling in her room. Her loud but little feet hit the floor and she tinkered around with her toys for about ten minutes before she decided to venture out into the house to see who might be awake. Her door opened and then slammed shut.
Chloe stood silently in the hall for a minute and perused the landscape for signs of life and when she didn’t find any, her little feet made their way across the hall towards our room. Our door opened and Chloe walked over to Stephanie’s side of the bed and she stood there for a few minutes just staring at us.
“Mom,” she whispered quietly.
“What do you want, Chloe?” Stephanie asked sleepily.
“I want to play.”
“It’s six thirty in the morning, Chloe, go back to bed.”
“No, Mom, I’m awake. I want to play.”
“Chloe I’m sleeping.”
“Mom, I’m up!!”
“Chloe, your father and I are still sleeping. Go play with your brother.”
“Fine!” she said as she huffed and stomped out of the room. A few minutes later, we heard Josh’s door swing open with a loud bang against the wall. It was silent for a few moments and then I heard Chloe run into the guest room to see if Josh was in there watching television. Finally, Chloe ran back to the middle of the hallway and stood at the top of the stairs while she plotted her next move.
“JOSH, WHERE ARE YOU?!” Chloe yelled at the top of her lungs. Stephanie was starting to grumble on her side of the bed which normally meant it was almost time to get up and start the day.
“I’m downstairs playing my DS,” Josh replied.
“Josh, you need to play with me,” Chloe yelled down the stairs to him.
“I’m busy, Chloe. Go watch TV.”
“Josh, you have to play with me!” Chloe said more forcefully.
“Chloe, I’m busy. Leave me alone!”
“JOSH, YOU HAVE TO COME PLAY WITH ME!!” she yelled.
“No I don’t!”
“Josh, you have to play with me, God said so!” Chloe said as Stephanie and I started to laugh at her comment in bed. I couldn’t believe my ears and asked Stephanie if I had actually heard what I thought I had and Stephanie quickly confirmed it between chuckles.
“What?! Who said I had to play with you?”
“God said you have to play with me, Josh!” she said again as Stephanie and I continued to laugh at her proclamation. “So you have to come play with me!”
We knew Josh would ignore her and continue to play with his video game, so we tried to ignore them both but Chloe wasn’t giving up. She was bound and determined to convince Josh that he needed to play with her.
“Come on, Josh, God says you have to!” Chloe yelled again from the top of the stairs.
A few seconds passed and we heard Josh coming up the stairs mumbling something to himself under his breath. I was in shock that he was buying her argument but it seemed like he put down his video game and was going to play with Chloe on God’s authority. It was a ridiculous claim on Chloe’s behalf but if it quieted them both down so Stephanie and I could finally get some sleep, then who was I to argue with her logic?
As I pulled the sheets up around my neck and started to get comfortable again, our bedroom door flew wide open as Josh came into the room. “Mom, can I have the bible? I want to know where it says that I have to play with Chloe.”
Chloe was right behind him and the bickering soon began. Stephanie sat up and looked at both of them sleepily and said with a hint of agitation in her voice, “Fine. I’m up.”
There was some more debate about what may or may not be written in the bible about whether or not Josh was commanded to play with Chloe but one thing was for sure, we told them both about the fifth commandment; especially when Stephanie and I are trying to sleep. Realizing that sleep was not going to be option, Stephanie stood up and put on her bathrobe.
“Let’s go make some breakfast,” Stephanie said to me as she gave me a shove to get up and come downstairs with them. “I’ll get the coffee started.”
As Stephanie walked out of our room with two noisy children in tow at six-thirty in the morning, I started to remember the “good old days” when Saturday and Sunday morning started much later in the day and much more pleasantly. We love our children and thank God for blessing our lives with them. But last weekend, Stephanie and I both spent the better part of each day chugging down caffeine by the bucketful, racing from one event to another with seventeen bags of stuff in hand, resolving all of their squabbles and most importantly, fondly “remembering what we did on weekends before we had kids!”