We had friends over for dinner this weekend. Good friends. Friends who we’ve known since we were all young and single — when weekends were spent casually sipping salt-rimmed margaritas at Mexican food restaurants or tailgating at football games. Now we don’t see these friends very much. In fact, we don’t see a lot of our friends all that much — because we’re all doing the same thing: raising babies.
We *like* each others’ pictures on Facebook. We send baby gifts with new pregnancy announcements. But those casual nights full of carefree timelessness? Those are things of the past.
“Remember your honeymoon?” I said to my friend this weekend. She and her husband went to Hawaii. Matt and I went to a beach resort in Mexico. We reminisced about sun-soaked naps in the toasty sand. How day blended into day. How responsibility was a word meant for non-islanders.
And for a moment, I paused. “Wow,” I thought. “We didn’t know how good we had it.” But then, I thought, that’s because it didn’t mean as much.
Not that our beautiful wedding ceremony and our honeymoon didn’t mean anything [quite the opposite!] — but that we hadn’t yet experienced what those vows truly meant. We hadn’t shared sleepless nights and childbirth and cranky newborns and a Down Syndrome diagnosis. We hadn’t shared tested faiths and quiet reflections and stressful seasons.
And that Mexican beach – where we laid holding hands beneath the setting sun – is now so profound in retrospect. Like that shoreline, where we blissfully started, we have been washed and changed by the tides of life. And because of it, we have more of a story to tell.
I laid down in bed with my toddler after our friends left that night.
We read books that we’ve read a hundred times and my boy read along with the funny parts. We sang songs that we’ve sang a hundred times and he wrapped his chubby arms around my neck. And finally, after he was ready to fall asleep in his car-print sheets, I closed the door softly.
I walked back into the living room, lit by the blue glow of the TV screen, and sat quietly with my husband.
Dirty dishes were in the sink. Dog hair was on the floor.
And though we were far, far away from that sun-soaked shore:
We had never been closer to paradise.