Ten years later, he has a good house with a great backyard, a dog who is always up for a game of fetch, a son who lights up when Dada enters the room, and a wife who is so glad she went out that Friday night.
6:30pm: Entertain your child with the contents of the tupperware drawer as you switch out those yoga pants for a dress and heels.
6:45pm: Put on eyeliner for the first time in longer than you care to admit.
7pm: Hand your child to the sitter as you walk out the door. Resist the urge to run.
7:15pm: Enjoy a pair of crisp gin and tonics as you compliment one another on looking so fly.
7:30pm: A waiter seats you for dinner — and it’s not in your living room, and it’s not on your couch, and it’s not leftovers.
8pm: Boldly accept the suggestion of an overpriced bottle of red, because this is the one bottle all year that you haven’t bought at Harris Teeter.
8:45pm: Regale one another with memories of previous nights out. Reassure one another that you’ve still got it.
9:15pm: After-dinner liqueurs? Don’t mind if you do!
9:30pm: This midlife suburban crowd just isn’t cutting it. Remember that cool place you went to that one time, three years ago?
9:40pm: Applaud yourself for responsibly checking in with the sitter on your way uptown.
10pm: High-five the bouncer as he laughingly waves you in.
10:01pm: Realize you are the only ones there.
10:02pm: Undeterred, check in on social media so the world knows you mean business.
10:03pm: Convince your partner that a shot is the best idea that either of you have ever had.
10:05pm: Reenact the closing scene of Dirty Dancing, on an empty dance floor, to a Drake song you have never heard. Extra points for the lift.
10:30pm: Hover over your phone, nostalgically scrolling through images of your child since birth.
10:40pm: Back in the cab, negotiate shrewdly as to who pays the sitter.
11pm: Hand over an indiscriminate wad of cash as your partner slouches anonymously down the hall.
6:30am: A bleating child and pounding head serve as painful reminders of how far you have come, and how far you have yet to go.
First thing’s first: there is no recipe. Just let destiny take the lead.
Make a few good Southern friends. Become intrigued by their welcoming nature, their monogrammed chevron makeup bags, their Kendra Scott jewelry and their prevalent use of polka dots. Surprise yourself with a little positivity. Replace (almost) all the black in your wardrobe with confident, colorful prints. Get to a point where you convince yourself that you could join a bible study. Because all of a sudden, you want to be as grounded as they have been their whole lives.
Move to North Carolina. Be overwhelmed by the abundant sunshine. Buy a house with your husband after eight years of renting. Watch proudly as he assembles the crib. Order a mounted polka dot giraffe for the nursery. Realize that life is brimming with possibility.
Later on, some day, when you have a free moment, swing by your local Harris Teeter for some shrimp. Cook it up with red bell peppers, fresh spinach, some garlic, pepper, and lemon juice. Accompany this happy medley with stoneground grits, a sliver of Kerrygold and a healthy serving of Irish cheddar.
Pour out the dregs of your discounted blend and savor that best damn moment — when not everything is gravy, but you think it could be soon; when your stomach is empty, but your heart is full.
We arrive on time – that much is true,
And Henry is all smiles for class.
The teacher lets him strum her guitar
While I prepare to feel like an ass.
The music starts and everyone sings,
And everyone else knows the tune,
But Henry’s Mommy hasn’t been there in weeks
So she hums awkwardly like a buffoon.
The gestures – oh, the gestures! –
The entire room knows what to do;
Hands up high, hands down low,
I am able to anticipate a few.
It’s not just that I can’t always make it.
(Trying to get over this guilt about working);
It’s the judgment I feel from not following along,
The pity glances and the side smirking.
And maybe I’m imagining some of that –
And truly, I don’t really care,
Because five minutes in, my baby reminds me
The real reason we take him there:
He wanders the circle, patting kids’ heads
Or dances off to the mirror all alone;
The music fills up that sweet little heart
And he is free to make it his own.
So sorry, honey – Mommy’s never been good
At getting her homework done.
So we’ll be the ones who don’t know the words,
But we’ll be the ones having the most fun.
Every day they worked side by side and every night they dreamed. Their dream was to open a wine bar in a pretty part of town, work side by side, and live happily ever after.
Times change, and so do lives. One girl moved away to begin a new adventure in our nation’s capital. Soon, the other girl left, too. This girl went way down south to a land of seersucker, and barbecue, and bless her heart, and y’all.
A few days ago, the two girls sat their babies side by side on a blanket in the sunshine.
They sipped their wine and watched those babies live happily ever after.
Like any self-respecting helicopter parent, I have observed a thing or two about my son in all my hovering.
He has yet to utter a word, and mean it. He hasn’t fully transitioned to a sippy cup. There is little to no demonstrated interest in walking. And he has not mastered a single eating utensil… not even the spoon!
But I will tell you what my son can do.
He squeals with joy every time the dog pads by, praying to go unnoticed. He is a remote control enthusiast. He steals Daddy’s glasses any chance he gets. He cries profusely when his trolley hits a dead end at the far side of the hall.
The tiny thing blows kisses. He exuberantly throws a ball. He hands you his last blueberry. He waves a fervent goodbye.
In the morning, he is content to babble softly and “read” his books until his family arrives to wake him.
And — and! — this beautiful, sweet boy can do “cheers.”
So forgive me if I drink to all of that.
First thing’s first: when the wine is white,
And the only available vessel is a red Solo cup.
And maybe you are pouring it quickly
For a colleague whose efforts are about to pay off;
Or a boss who is a role model in work and in life;
Or a team that gets together but once a year,
In the jungle of Florida,
In the middle of June.
It’s OK to put ice in your wine
When it’s 80 degrees at night,
And the cooler is already full,
And music is playing somewhere,
And laughter is all around you,
And you feel compelled to dance.
Swirl that cheap Chardonnay around,
Let those ice cubes rattle in their cup.
Life is good,
Work is fun,
And you, my friend, are lucky.