It’s pansy planting season! How wonderful is that!? It always feels so wonderful when we can finally say peace out winter and welcome this new, fresh season to have a seat at our table. I just returned from a delightfully short trip to Chicago to meet up with Andrew while he is away on business. It was a quick weekend getaway between two conferences he had and it was beautiful to focus on our marriage outside of parenthood for a change.
You guys, we never do this. Okay maybe bot never, but rarely. I sat in the airport minutes before boarding feeling like a full-fledged adult with my big ol’ Starbucks + new books + a small carry on. Hello luxury. Then I waltzed on the plane and didn’t have to worry about poopy, leaky diapers or holding down hypers kids that were hell-bent on running, nay, sprinting down the narrow aisle. Instead, I was happily sandwiched in between two old ladies who were head to toe in emerald green, sparkly fingernails included. They were heading north to celebrate St. Patty’s like college students on Spring Break. They were darling. The three of us chatted about the brilliance and humor of Anne Lammot, broken arms, whether or not we’d be having corned beef and cabbage for supper, and my kids and their grandkids, naturally. Before we knew it, our plane had landed and I didn’t even have time to crack open my book. So this is what traveling without kids feel like.
My time in the city with Andrew was really magical and I am not making that up. This rendezvous was something 0ur marriage was craving and I am so glad we made it work. I feel like my life as a mother/woman has been a revolving door around:
1). pregnancy pains
3). middle of the night rocking
4). juggling three different nap times
…for the past five years, because it has. No shame in sharing that because I love and chose motherhood. But all of those things, while nurturing and mostly wonderful, do tether you to your little loves and make you a bit of a servant to their season because they are babies and they need you. As a mom, their ever-changing rhythms become your ever-changing rhythm, and while being a beautiful calling, sometimes this can feel like you’re dragging around a heavy, invisible chain. It is what it is. We do the best we can with what we have for our babies, and most of it is like the biggest bear hug you’ll ever receive, while some of it sucks you dry, quite literally. I’ve found that the most fulfilling and meaningful work I’ve ever done is a healthy combination of those two extremes, both awe-inspiring and really hard, which is why time away to rejuvenate is not only well-deserved when you need to refuel, it’s essential.
The two of us had so much fun bouncing around the city with two of our friends eating as much good food as we could muster. Food is always the foundation of our trips, the common denominator if you will, and makes traveling such a treat. Before we left I asked a few Chicagoans what places they recommended and everything they sent our way was out of this world yummy. Here’s where we went:
- Eataly: Well this place was a dream. It is literally comprised of all of my favorite things in one gorgeous Italian dream. Oysters, cheeses, cured meats, homemade pastas, bubbles, thin crust pizzas…all of it. I know it’s a sin, but if you live in Chicago, I am jealous of you right now.
- The Purple Pig: If you like Mediterranean food, heavy on kick-to-the-mouth-flavor and quality olive oil, you’ll love this place. All I gotta say is, THE BEETS. GET THE BEETS. They will change your life.
- Publican Quality Meats: We love charcuterie and all the meats so this was a must on our list of eats, as it always is when we are in Chicago, and it was wonderful as always.
- The Publican: Andrew and I both agree that the best meal we had on our little trip together was here. Everything was done to perfection. We love casual beer hall vibes, so this place gave us that, while preparing the most delicious food for our table. Honestly, everything we ordered was yummy, but I’d recommend the the pork and oysters. Have I mentioned that I love oysters. Not a sweet-tooth here. Give me all the salty brine.
- The Girl and the Goat: We only went here for cocktails before supper but it was so, so good. Andrew got a drink made with Earl Grey, gin, lemon something, aloe vera, and blood orange. I have to try and recreate this.
- The Allis: If you want old-school ambiance, glamour, and fancy desserts go here. This place was unbelievably gorgeous and right down the road from both The Publican and The Girl and The Goat. We went there for pre-dinner, pre-cocktail bites.
This delicious, life-giving trip aside, arriving back home was hard. I am not here to sugar coat our story for you, so I’ll be honest. It was horse shit and far less pleasant than I had expected. Yesterday started out beautifully with the birds singing and our book club starting and then all of a sudden a string of unfortunate events washed over the afternoon and evening and OUR PETS HEADS STARTED FALLING OFF. Long live Dumb and Dumber quotes in our house. This is what Andrew and I say to one another when things really get out of hand. It’s our way of lightening the mood and conveying the realness of parenthood to one another. Of course it always takes a bit of time to get back into the swing of things, but for whatever reason the kids were way the heck off and abnormally needy. We are all still adjusting and trying to sink back into our rhythm, which will take about a week or so, which is making life an interesting dance right now. But there’s walks, and wine, and pretty pansies to plant, so I really can’t complain.
Andrew and I are both people who thrive when simple routines are set in place. They anchor us and help calm our anxieties, giving us time to pour our energies into other things like playing with the kids. Maybe it’s because we’ve spent half of our lives together, but we operate in the same way: needing rhythm and needing rest. Not just sleep, but rest. We are a-okay with a calm, semi-boring life and our kids seem to follow suit. So for the rest of the week and well into the weekend we plan on returning to that, and meanwhile, thanking God for the gift of romantic impromptu traveling, for babysitters who love on our kids when we are gone, and for the opportunity to make our marriage stronger. We find that when we are solid, everything else is cake. Unless our pet’s heads fall off, in which case we roll with it and hop aboard the circus. But like the morning promises, the sun comes up and so does our gratitude. What an incredible rollercoaster marriage and mothering is.