By: Brandy Black
I conquered. Yes, Susan and I took our first trip alone without our daughter. Many tears were shed and there were moments when I didn’t think we were going to walk out that door, but we stepped away from the fear and made it happen. Sophia sealed the deal when she practically ignored us upon arrival at the Pop Pops’ house (this is what she calls the grandparents). It was as if she were telling us she would be OK. My parents were all aglow and we had nothing left to do but follow the intended plan and jet off in a ferry to the San Juan Islands. One would think that we would be skipping into the sunset with the excitement of being able to sleep in and just be a married couple again, but there was something missing as I looked in my rearview mirror. There was no babbling baby, no sip cups and diaper bags, just one suitcase and a picnic basket my mom had packed for us. As we drove to the ferry, I wondered how we could possibly enjoy our time knowing that we were leaving our most prized possession behind. We both harbored the same fears that something would happen to us, or -even worse -to Sophia while we were away. It was a guilty pleasure knowing that were going to have this time together. I liken it to the first time we went on a date 5 weeks after she was born. I hated it and then I loved it and then I hated loving it. There has never been anything in my life that I covet more than my daughter. Susan knows this and our relationship has taken a back burner since the day Sophia was born. We both know this is wrong and balance must be restored. This weekend was wrapped so tightly in all of those cherished emotions. I have lost myself and my relationship in the love that I have for my daughter. Is it because we worked so long and hard to get her? Is it because I carried her in my body (I still can’t get over that) for so many months? She has been a part of me for so long and this trip represents cutting the cord, letting her be her own person and me be mine.
Conversations were strained and dull in the car and on the ferry ride over to the island but when we got to Friday Harbor, something shifted. The town was ours, it was beautiful, the air was fresh and brisk and smelled of charcoaled chowder. We were giddy and allowed ourselves to enjoy our freedom. We drove out to the cabin of which I knew very little about. I had planned this trip a couple months back and as you may know, with a toddler you are typically the last person you think about when getting ready to leave town. Between the many lists you make and planning to be done you are lucky to pack your own toothbrush let alone daydream about your private getaway. Nope- I printed the directions, the address and the code to the lock box and shot out the door. So when we arrived to find a wood cabin on the lake with our own private dock you can imagine our surprise. We stood still on our front porch looking at the water beyond the trees that made our front yard, in awe. The stage was set for us, now all we had to do was enjoy each other.
The weekend was amazing, no schedules, early mornings by choice, rowing on the lake, mopeds along the shore, 2- hour dinners (I didn’t know we had in us) and believe it or not a re-kindled romance between two people that had lost their love. It was wonderful and it was the part of us that we always were and thought we had lost. It is an on-going struggle to be a parent and maintain the connection that your relationship was born with. The very connection that made you want to start a family together gets lost the day that family begins. I’ve heard this from several couples I know and it’s a scary thing to think that you may not find your way back. There are various books for parents on how to raise a child but where are the books that tell us how to put the pieces back in our relationship. Who tells you that you might just forget who you were before? No one really talks about that part. These are the un-spoken exchanges you have with the tired bickering couple at the park. This trip made me realize just how bad it’s been and just how good it could be.
Don’t get me wrong we called the Pop Pop’s at Sophia’s nap and bedtime both days we were away and spent 20-30 minutes each call discussing all of the new things she did. My parents told us how they danced with her on the bridge at the park and crunched leaves and threw rocks in the lake. They were full of enthusiasm. I realized that not only was this trip a gift to us but to them as well. They got to share in the joy of our little angel. When we got back to Seattle, my parents took us to all the places they had been with Sophia over the weekend, they re-created the moments and Sophia delighted in showing us all that she had learned from the grandparents. Susan and I held hands and watched as our daughter took turns being held by grandma and grandpa. She had her own memories, she was a big girl now and she was proud of herself. The trip was a success for all and now we are back and ready to tackle the world with a toddler in tow.