Trent and I have had a pretty firm “no socializing on weeknights” rule in place for the last couple months, what with me working like a maniac and him holding down the fort(s) and generally everything else in our lives. Though we’ve managed to preserve our weekends for our beloved low-stress (and necessary) mountain escapes, my copious amounts of responsibility just aren’t making it into an eight (or even ten) hour workday lately, meaning something’s gotta give. So…
NO FUN ON A SCHOOL NIGHT.
Except for last night. Last night, we made an exception.
It’s been way too long since we saw Trent’s cousin, Chris, and his wife, Emily. I can’t even tell you precisely how Trent and Chris are related – I kinda know (I think they share a great-grandmother, at least?) – but they are our closest relatives, in the geographic sense. They’ve lived in San Francisco for the last five or six years, and in the past few we’ve established a really nice tradition of getting together once a month for dinner.
We managed to keep the tradition as Trent and I navigated through job changes and major home improvement and through the birth of Chris and Emily’s first son, William. We enjoyed planning and cooking big family meals at our house in Oakland, or having backyard picnics with William as a baby…
We managed to carve out whole Saturdays for our dates; we even shared our first Thanksgiving in our home together, the five of us.
This summer, Chris and Emily’s second son, Stephen, was born. Simultaneously, a rain of responsibility poured down on me, between family obligations and new work responsibilities and professional extra-curricular commitments. Most of it positive, but all of it… just a lot. For all of us.
And for the first time, we started to miss our monthly dates.
A few weeks ago, I realized this, and it made me a little panicky. These little traditions are the kinds of things you cannot let slip away. Moments like these are the difference between having a life and having… well… I don’t know what.
And so last night, we got back on track. After a very full day of work, Trent and I tore to our collective favorite Middle Eastern restaurant in the Mission to pick up take out, and then we tore to Chris and Emily’s.
It was our chance to meet Stephen, at least – but he was already asleep when we got there. Emily was exhausted. Chris was just walking in the door from work. I was caught in traffic and the food got cold. Trent and I had just snapped at each other about whether to get gas before we parked the car or on our way home.
We carved out space at the kitchen table and we ate out of the takeout containers. We whispered updates about work and family to make sure we didn’t wake the boys. None of us wanted our picture taken, that’s for sure – so we took no pictures.
But it felt SO good. To have a (screen-free) family moment. To do more then just work, and sleep. The four of us. To be together, with the little guys asleep in the next room (Stephen eventually did wake up, and we at least got a look at him).
I won’t let us get that close to breaking our tradition again. There is always time to have cold takeout with the people that matter to you.