Somewhere above the Pacific Ocean, three hours into our flight home from Hawaii, Max turned to his Daddy and handed him his string cheese. “Can you rip it for me, please?” he asked.
It was a simple thing to ask. Having a grown-up start the first tear on your string cheese. We were sitting three in a row in the middle aisle of the plane, Max sandwiched between us. And he turned to his Daddy first.
It made my heart so full.
That’s what this vacation has been about. I’ve forgotten what it feels like to parent alone. I’m part of a team. Soaking in the carefully choreographed dance that our party of three has rehearsed over the years, while knowing that our family is about to grow in ways that right now we can only imagine.
In the interest of full disclosure, I want you to know that our amazing week in Hawaii was paid for with the miles and points that Sean has accrued from traveling for work this past year. I feel a little righteous about saying that we have earned this trip. Sean has worked hard. Max and I have spent too many mornings having breakfast alone. I’ve driven over the river and through the woods in a friggin rainstorm with a sick kid in the backseat, cursing the fact that we live over the river and through the woods….and that my husband travels for business. Sean has scheduled business trips around school events, rushed home on the last flight out of NYC just to be sure that he could crawl into bed with Max when he got home. He is the most present, most involved father…he SHOWS UP. He gets it. He knows our routine and falls easily into the rhythm of our family when he is home. And yet missing him when he is gone creates a hole that I still have trouble reconciling.
We needed this week together. I am rejuvenated by the fact that I have not had to be the one to take Max to the potty a single damn time on this trip. Seriously, have you ever tried to fit a three year old, AND a pregnant belly in an airplane bathroom? Ok, but have you then had to WIPE your three year old?? In an airplane bathroom?
Hawaii was kind to us. There were endless hours of swimming, splashing, and impromptu meetings with Donald and his friends.
Every morning I would wake up to Max snuggled in between Sean and I in bed. He would be spooned next to Daddy, and when he saw me open my eyes he’d wiggle his little jammied body over to me and put his forehead against mine. “It’s wake-up time!” he’d yell, and then Daddy would take him out to the patio for a breakfast of “wapples” with syrup while I slept for a few more minutes.
There was a time when I was sure that parenting would kill us. We have come so far, this little family of mine. We’ve figured out how to tag-team who cuts the chicken fingers up while the other one hides the French fries. Mommy grabs the towels as Max pulls his wrinkled body from the swimming pool, where he’s splashed with Daddy for the last three hours. Daddy can put Max’s jammies on him in a public restroom while making sure that his feet never touch the floor. He remembers to make Max brush his teeth. We walk together along the beach at night, Max’s eyes closing in the stroller as the light from our hotel illuminates the waves that crash along the shore next to us.
We were afraid to grow our family for a long time. And when we finally said “yes”, it ended up taking so much longer than we had expected for our new little one to find us. But as I sit here typing on the airplane, feeling baby brother (yep, he’s a he!) wiggle and flutter in my belly somewhere above the Pacific Ocean, I’m convinced that he was waiting for the right time to join us.
As we piled in to the cab on the way to the airport, the three of us stretched our arms out and made a pile of our hands. Daddy’s hand, Mommy’s and Max’s, all on top of each other.
“Goooooo family!!” we yelled, as our hands flew up in the air.
This is the right time, baby brother. My heart is full. We are going to be ok. Daddy can rip the string cheese, and Mommy can make the pb&j’s. There’s room for you in the middle of this crazy, lovely family. So just jump right in, and Max will teach you the steps to our dance. Turns out, the choreography isn’t so hard to learn after all.
We’ve got this.