By: Brandy Black
Last September Susan and I went on our first getaway without Sophia, for 2 days. We left her with my parents and although rough, it turned out to be a great time for all. Most of our vacation was spent calling, texting, talking about our daughter but after our little jaunt to San Juan Islands we swore we’d do it again. Now one whole year later we went on a 5-day getaway sans Sophia. This time we left her with Susan’s parents and we went as far as Palos Verdes, short trek to the Terrenea Resort. I was sick over this on the week leading up to our vacation. I spent very little time getting ready, worrying about what to pack or what to wear to our big dinners, but rather obsessed over getting toys for Sophia while we were away, making lists, buying groceries. I worried that she might choke on her food, that the grandparents might forget to pick her up from school on time, that she might miss us terribly and be incredibly unhappy. I worried. I do this, worry about just about anything before it happens, I worry it to death so that when the actual thing happens, it won’t possibly be as bad as what I worried it would be.
When the day came to kiss Sophia good-bye, it happened quickly and I wanted to slow it down and seal the moment in my heart for the next 5 days. It was raining outside, we were running late, and I had just dinged my brand-new car so the day was racing by me and my last kiss to Sophia was as casual as a hello. Susan drove; this was unusual. There I was with my thoughts and my phone. I began taking pictures of my favorite kind of day as the rain poured heavy on the windshield. I realized I had freedom –to kick back and ignore the cars ahead and behind, to rid myself of toddler woes and kids’ music –I was there in my car, a passenger in my life. This felt good.
When we got to the resort, I found myself less concerned with Sophia and excited to have a glass of champagne in my hand. Our conversations weren’t cut short with screaming, we had no real agenda except a few planned dinners and massage treatments. We took pictures of ourselves for the first time in 3 years. We laughed. I surprised myself with how often I giggled throughout the weekend. By the second day Susan determined that all of our problems stemmed from Sophia. I would have been offended by this conversation, but I remembered back to our therapist telling us this on our first session last summer. She called our daughter the culprit. She gave us permission to feel and understand that to be true. She was right. Our relationship was nothing less than perfect in my mind before the notion of children came into the picture; then came infertility –the love got harder, the pain got deeper, the conversations got weaker. And then Sophia was born –the love was for her, the conversations were about her, and the pain never went away. When our therapist told us this, I resented hearing it, I resented being there and away from my daughter. I wanted nothing to take me away from my cherished little girl at home and this hour poring over the past was frankly a pain in the ass. I thought of how many better things we could be doing with our money but I did it for my wife. I shook my head pretending to agree with the therapist as she explained, “first comes you, then comes Susan and then comes Sophia.” I’d heard this before and in theory, it’s a lovely concept, but in actuality I barely had time for therapy let alone a long walk in the park and time away for myself. And Susan, well, I felt she had to fend for herself now; we are moms, buck up, this was the new reality and I was dealing just fine. But was I?
At the resort, when Susan suggested that Sophia was the root of all of our arguments, I knew she was right. After almost 3 years of our daughter’s life, I can see now that her existence has changed our lives tremendously and although it has been for the better, our relationship has suffered. Was it my fault? Does it happen to all couples? Could I have stopped it? Would I be a bad mom if I had taken more time for myself and with my wife? All I know is that those 5 days spent with Susan were a reminder of all that we had come from, all that we are. The spontaneous girls that accidentally end up with the bungalow, that hike down to the beach with breakfast in the morning, that giggle in the pool between hold-your-breath contests, that start the conga while dancing after dinner. We were back, not the same as before, but finding our way to each other again. We slept in together for the first time in 2.8 years. Love changes and grows and I suppose we grow with it and learn to find new ways to see each other each day. But a vacation away, just the two of us, was certainly the reset we needed.