Ethan is going to be two next month. The party invitations are stamped and addressed, waiting to be placed with ridiculous care into the mailbox. As my mind darts across my mental Pinterest to-do list with all things Curious George there at the forefront, I'm quick to admittedly forget there are a lot of other things going on before Ethan's second birthday party next month. Like, you know, my wedding anniversary on May 23rd. Not that I haven't thought about it. My husband and I have already been playing an apathetic verbal tennis game of "what do you want to do?" "I don't care. What do you want to do?" for the past couple of months. Neither of us said anything we wanted to do, but it was already obvious the winner was going to be a quick dinner out at one of our favorite usual restaurants and maybe a movie on Redbox from the comfort of our couch because, well, we really suck at leaving Ethan. See? Even the way I phrased that -- "leaving Ethan" -- is drenched in guilt and slathered in "oh, hi, horrible parent, how are you today?" I can't help it. We can't help it. Guess how many date nights we've been on since Ethan was born? One. Last December.
It's not that I don't trust my parents to babysit Ethan. It's not that my mom doesn't have a room set up for Ethan that he's never used. It's not that Ethan doesn't beg, plead, tantrum that he wants to go to Grandma's house on the regular. It's not even that I don't value my marriage, relationship or husband. It's just that we like to do things as a family and because my husband's job is so demanding, we rarely get to have uninterrupted family time. Even though Ethan is almost two, something like a family dinner out or a walk around the block is still sort of new and exciting. I mean, I will completely bypass how I'm embarrassingly neurotic and will likely be walking my poor child to his classroom until he graduates college and skip right to the fact that we just didn't have that "a-ha! The world won't end if we go to dinner without a toddler in tow!" moment that I'm pretty sure every parent gets at some point, on their own schedule, at their own time. For some people, it happens a little earlier than for others, I'm sure. I'm also sure that somewhere out there, someone is reading this and is unsure why I'm stressing about not having been on more than one date night in two years since their child is seven and they still don't feel right seeing a movie on their own. This "it will happen on it's own time" attitude always made sense to me until the day my husband won a week long all-expense paid trip to Hawaii at work and we turned it down because neither one of us wanted to leave Ethan behind to fly a few time zones away from a toddler who neither of us can bear to be away from for fifteen minutes. Not that I'm invalidating our desire to not leave Ethan behind on this Hawaii trip as, for us, it wasn't even close to ever being a reality at this point in our lives. But it did make me see that, you know, dinner wouldn't be so bad once in a while. Dinner and a movie? Well, I could try living on the edge.
And so the "I don't know, what do you want to do?" game was ended early when my mother booked us a hotel room at our wedding night hotel for our anniversary. One night away at our wedding night hotel, on the beach. Twenty minutes from home. Twenty minutes from home. I keep repeating that last part to myself, reminding myself of how even if I wanted to, I could run home and kiss Ethan goodnight or tuck him into bed. And then Ethan keeps reminding me how excited he is to have a sleepover with Grandma, Grandpa and Aunt Megan and asks every single night at dinnertime if tonight is the night he gets to do so. Rather than lose myself in a puddle of "do you love Grandma more than me?" irrationality, I've taken these little toddler-dropped cues to get a little more excited about our upcoming miniature getaway. And, as Ethan lets me know on the regular, he's pretty excited about sleeping at Grandma's house, too. So while Ethan is looking forward to celebrating a weekend of Grandma-approved toddler delinquency, like eating doughnuts and watching television, I'm honestly looking forward to spending a night away at the beach celebrating the love and marriage that made this whole parenthood thing possible.