I wake up to a little voice at my bed. I open my eyes groggily, knowing it’s way too early for her to be awake. But awake she is. She’s blurry next to me, but I can tell she’s expectant and I reach for my glasses. Ah yes, there’s her just-awakened, little two-year-old self, her hair curly and crazy, all over the place. I leave my husband sleeping in bed and take her to use the potty. Realizing her flannel p.j’s are already soaked, I run the bath water, warm and soapy. I pour the water over her head, her hair straightening flat against her back, the water cascading over her little shoulders. I lather up her arms.
“That feel better, honey?” I ask her.
“Yes, thank you, Mama,” she chirps in her little morning voice.
My heart melts that one so small would be so sweetly thankful for a warm bath and clean skin.
We head downstairs with her big sister. Breakfast is definitely in order . . . and coffee. Lots and lots of coffee. We eat banana muffins and I settle the girls with sippy cups and a weekend cartoon. I sneak back into bed and cuddle long with the hubby, slipping in and out of sleep just for a few more lazy minutes. And then it’s time to hit the day.
I clean a few leftover dishes from our cookout the night before. I chuckle over little conversations, smirk over bits of sarcasm, and smile over a movie where shared laughter and tears all rolled into one. It is good to share “hang out” days with friends.
My mind shifts and I mull over this post. A couple of days before, a friend had asked if I would be willing to write about my Ideal Day. Knowing it would be fun, but that it would also stretch me, I excitedly, but very hesitantly said yes. So, now I explore what an ideal day would even look like for me. I try to slip out of my usual routine . . . it takes more than a few minutes. A run with my husband by the light of the morning stars, surprises me. We don’t run currently. Actually, I realize, we haven’t jogged together since our honeymoon. I turn that over in my head.
The girls play dress-up. I Pinterest-surf. The hubby descends the stairs and we sit at the table and catch up on news and articles of interest over coffee. And then I go back to Pinterest. We laugh over our little ones. A few minutes later, one of them does something annoying and we share frustrated faces and then smile and shake our heads. I know that this is parenting: pure joy, wonder and gratitude, all mixed with the battles against our own selfishness and wishing them into little adults. Oh, how I want to savor them and rest longer in the joy and wonder.
We eat leftover BBQ and the best potato salad (ever!) for lunch. He runs out the door for a haircut, I fold loads of laundry and hang fresh, clean clothes on hangers.
My mind does a U-turn, back to the “Ideal Day” question. A drive zooms into view. The kind of drive I’ve seen in photographs. The top is down, our favorite music is playing, maybe just the two of us, maybe the kids sitting in the back seat, happily chatting amongst themselves, while we enjoy the scenery, or even do a little out-loud dreaming. Funny, I’m surprised by where I would want to drive.
He comes home, looking handsome, and we get ready for a date. His brother and new wife walk through the door and the girls are so excited by their “babysitters”. We slip out the door, knowing our little ones are in very good hands and we escape to reconnect and grab some good food.
He sips a beer. I sip a sangria. We talk food and sports, family and politics. It is good to have a conversation where the only interruption is the waiter asking if we need anything. The hubby’s been so busy lately. We’ve been coasting — somewhat content, but somewhat trapped in the routine of responsibility and our individual, co-existing worlds.
I turn the conversation toward the idea of this post. I ask him what his ideal day would look like after I sheepishly confess that, really, I’m a little scared to dream about mine. He nods his head, understanding the fear of dreaming. I also tell him how the things coming to mind are surprising me . . . how unconscious desires are bubbling over as I hesitantly give way to even thinking about them. I tell him how a jog under the stars sounds heavenly to me. With him. He’s just as surprised as I am.
We’re quiet a few minutes. I ask him what he’s thinking.
“I’m just surprised by what I’m finding would be included in my “ideal day” if I could create it. It would definitely include driving….”
I laughingly interrupt to tell him a drive was on my list too.
“Along the Pacific Coast Highway,” he says, finishing his sentence.
My eyes widen, realizing this was the road I’d seen in the picture. Black roads hugging rocky cliffs, white waves crashing alongside, and the Pacific Ocean as far as the eye can see.
“Really??” I squeal. “Me too!”
We both smile. Stunned. We have never, ever talked about this desire before. All the disconnectedness and busyness of routine and responsibility melt away in the moment that we realize that underneath the Bread-Winner and the Homemaker, behind the Daddy and the Mommy, despite 8 years of being Husband and Wife, we still have things to learn about one another. We beam, knowing that we have to make this happen and that there is an adventure on our horizon.
As I try fall asleep that night, I dream of touring windy roads with my best friend, the salty air whizzing past and all around us. And then I shift, reversing the day in my head, realizing that, really, this day . . . this one day . . . had all the elements of an “ordinary” ideal day. Sweet moments with my little ones, a date with my hubby, a new realization about one another, visiting with family. The only thing was, I didn’t recognize it for what it truly was. When I walked into the family room at noon and pillows were strewn everywhere, Goldfish crumbs galore, a needless mess, I lost my temper to the tune of the vacuum cleaner. When the hubby had to work for a bit, I steamed and huffed and puffed, thick as a locomotive. When little ones pushed my buttons, I pushed theirs right back. And I realize: I can turn any day into a mini-version of hell if my attitude is in the wrong place.
But more importantly, if my heart is in the right place, any day is pretty much ideal already.
Any day that I’m enjoying the day’s gifts in all of their glory, even embracing all of their imperfections, while still hoping and dreaming about our future? That’s my idea of an ideal day.
So now? I’m excited to see where else our dreams will take us. I realize that if I peel back my frustrations over the everyday routine and the responsibilities of making ends meet and raising a young family, I really already have the ideal on a daily basis — if I only take the time to see it.