Now. Go. Do it.
Last weekend we left our kids with my cousin and her best friend and trekked south down I-71 to Hocking Hills for three days and two nights with close friends. On the way we stopped for breakfast and I ate all the things at Bob Evans. Sorry, Lodi residents, about the food being gone.
We sang along to Tom Petty radio and Billy Joel radio. We talked in full and complete sentences to one another. No child shrieked from the back seat, “He’s making mean faces at me!” or “Stop kicking my seat,” or “Turn it up! I can’t hear it!” or “Turn it down! It’s too loud!” or “GROAAAANNNNN I hate this song.” The song is three minutes long; can’t you hang on for three lousy minutes?
None of that. It didn’t happen. Just me and my husband, singing along to a bad Billy Joel song, “There’s a STORM FRONT COMIN’ (MOOD INDIGO),” all the way to a cabin in the woods, with friends, and games, and hiking, and booze.
For TWO AND A HALF FULL DAYS. You guys! Guess what! We like each other!
Taking off our parenting hats (and a few other items of clothes) and being just ourselves together is critically important to the health of our marriage. If we go too long, we forget so much; who we are when we’re not scolding or coercing children into jackets and shoes or eating food so they don’t die; who we are when we’re not leaving for work in the morning or leaving for work in the afternoon; who we are when we’re not going through the motions of day to day life, trying not to bicker over laundry or whose turn it is to let the dog out or load the dishwasher.
If we go too long without getting away together, we forget who the other person is and only see what the other person does. Or doesn’t do.
I didn’t marry Brandon because he loves sports or shares household chores with me or anything else he does or doesn’t do on a daily basis. I married Brandon because he is a passionate man, funny, sensitive, loyal, faithful, and just. We are opposites, but when we are at our best, we are good complements to one another. When we are at our worst, we only feel those differences–Brandon is stricter than I am; I am messier than Brandon–and more, ways we grate against each other instead of find a place of compromise. In the midst of the daily grind, we forget who we are when our spirits aren’t in constant tension or exhaustion. Who we are at rest. Who we are at our best.
This reset is important for the present-day plodding that’s necessary for life, but it’s also critical for vision casting into the future. Opening these spaces to get away from it all allows room to breathe and to dream about the future, to cast “what if’s” out onto the water and see what floats, to encourage each other to be who we are instead of keep doing what we do.
By the end of the weekend, the gap I felt between us shifted so that we seem to be standing again on common ground. We rediscovered who we are together and returned to the routine chaos of our lives.
And as we watched the evening news last night, the weathermen dancing over the east-coast storm, we sang together, “There’s a STORM FRONT COMIN’, MOOD INDIGO!”