When you’re married with small kids it’s easy to forget about each other. Maybe “forget” isn’t quite the right word—it’s more like postpone. It’s not usually intentional…like an outdoor concert that gets rained out. The kids are so adorable or needy or upset, or there’s a school thing or this appointment then practice then work. Before you know it, the whole day has gone by and you’ve barely made eye contact or given a hug to the person you started this whole thing with. The years pass and you have more kids and more life happens, those days turn into weeks and months and that concert that got rained out never gets rescheduled.
For us it had been almost eight years. Before you start freaking out, don’t worry, it hadn’t been eight years since I hugged my wife Sarah. We’ve had two other kids since our first, so do the math. And the last several years in particular, we’ve made an effort to squeeze in date nights when we could or get away during the day for a few hours while the kids were at grandma’s, but we haven’t been away from the kids for a night—and certainly not two or more—for a very long time. We kept saying we should or wouldn’t that be awesome if, and that started to turn into maybe for our tenth anniversary. It had nothing to do with not loving each other or wanting, but we just didn’t take the time to make the effort that was necessary.
So the beginning of February we made a pact to make it happen, no rain delays. We picked a date, cleared it with grandma a month in advance, and booked the place. I secretly prayed that the kids wouldn’t get sick or that grandma wouldn’t have something come up, and low and behold, Friday, March 1, 2:00 p.m., we were on the road. Just the two of us, headed for Costanoa.
For about the first hour of the car ride we were nervous and worried about how the kids would do. But that gradually faded as reality set in and then…we were free. We talked and laughed, played the music loud and stopped when we had to pee. We reveled in the lack of needs beyond our own and arrived along the coast just after sunset.
The weekend was perfect. We loved our tent bungalow that looked out onto a beautiful coastal valley. The nights were cold but we enjoyed the hot tub and friendly conversation with other guests, bragging about how this was our first weekend away since having three kids (and trying not to be offended when people looked surprised).
We lounged. The thing you miss the most once you have kids is sleeping in and having a peaceful meal, and we got both in abundance. A hike up to a lookout then down to a private beach was the perfect way to spend the first full day, followed by more lounging in our cozy bungalow. At sunset we grabbed some coffee and headed up the coast, admiring the light house along the way, parking at a beach to watch the fog roll in over the massive waves breaking on the rocks beyond the shore. When night fell we headed up the road to Pescadero for dinner at Duarte’s and visited with old friends who just happend to be there. Pescadero’s like that, an almost timeless bubble where you’re as likely to run into Neil Young as you are a friend from 8 years ago.
As the hour got later and we soaked in the hot tub for the second night, Sarah and I talked about how we were both fighting off thoughts beyond the moment, to the next day when we would pack it up and return to our “real life.” We were both happy and content with just a hint of anxiety. We missed our beautiful, shining girls and it was good.
Our return trek on Sunday was delayed slightly by a quick meeting with another friend at Whale City in Davenport, but once we got rolling, the ride was quiet. I thought about how relaxing our trip was, all the beautiful scenery and nature we enjoyed, and most of all how much I still loved this lady next to me in the car. After 8 years with kids and more than 10 years together, we still knew how to have fun and enjoy the things that brought us together.
There will always be the joys and frustrations of having three kids. Random hugs and kind words throughout the day are great and date nights are crucial. But having that weekend away with Sarah taught me how important it was for us to get away from the day-to-day for an extended amount of time and just enjoy each other. Sarah always reminds me it’s what got us here, and I’m convinced it’s what’s going to not only keep it all together, but make our life as full as it can be.