When we planned our recent getaway, my husband and I did not expect that we would spend most of our child-free hours talking about our child. Initially, we discussed the business of parenting: childcare, expenses, school, and discipline. Then, we started speculating about what he was doing without us and imagining what he was doing with his grandmother. We recited his daily routine at each hour of the day: now he’s napping, now he’s at the park, now he’s eating. It did not matter that we were busy ourselves, surrounded by the beauty of Longwood Gardens and the freedom of an itinerary-free vacation.
As N had been there once before, certain places in the garden stirred up memories. “I took one of the first pictures of N sitting unsupported right here,” I told my husband. “He was still so wobbly that I had to strategically place him somewhere surrounded by the padding of foliage while I adjusted the camera.” It seemed that at every turn, something else reminded us of being parents.
One of the things that surprised me though was how many times I would say things that reminded me of N. As I entered a new greenhouse and saw the spectacular displays I would exclaim, “Look at that” in the same intonation that N uses when he sees a new truck, causing both of us to laugh. Had I learned it from him, or had he learned it from me? It didn’t matter, because it’s his now.
Whenever N sees a road less traveled, he refers to it as “the secret way.” He prefers to take the secret way whenever possible, often leading us through tight spaces, overgrown passages, and private property. As we came to a fork in the road and saw two paths ahead, one paved, one not, we looked at each other and said, “let’s take the secret way.”
The things that reminded us of our toddler continued, with every bumblebee, overhead airplane, and garbage can triggering a smile on our faces. It seemed that while we enjoyed not having to chase after him in the heat or worry about time-outs and diapers during our leisurely morning stroll, we did not want to escape parenthood completely. There is so much joy that comes from being a parent and sometimes all it takes is a few hours away to regain an appreciation for it.