Valet Parking the Minivan

It took a milestone Birthday–my husband’s 40th–for it to happen.  But,  finally–finally, we got a little kid-free time.  We made plans–clearing our calendars, and notifying preschools that our daughters would not be in attendance for a couple of days and booked a 4-star hotel on Hotwire.  We didn’t go anywhere exciting.  Just to our hometown of St. Louis, MO where we knew we’d be able to log as many kid-free hours as possible with the help of eager and adoring grandparents. 

Day 1 was sort of a warm-up to being away from the kids.  We sat with Papa at a McDonalds Playland sipping iced coffees and sharing small talk while the girls played.  All the while Jim and I were mentally making notes of the things we might be able to do and talk about with the little people off in “spoil-me-rotten-land.” 

By the time we had a whole day to ourselves, we were ready.  We hit the art museum–and looked at pieces we actually enjoyed–photography, interior design and American realism–and weren’t stuck in the art-for-kids section.   We at lunch at a posh St. Louis hotel with wine and things our girls wouldn’t dare touch: kalamata olives, feta cheese, and mushrooms in a balsamic reduction sauce…a far cry from the hot dogs and mac ‘n cheese regularly requested by them. 

At first we had a hard time thinking of things to talk about that didn’t involve our little mini me’s.  Kindergarten registration came up, so did summer day camp plans and what to do about booger picking, but eventually we got to the point where we were discussing other, more grown-up matters. 

In fact, at a swanky restaurant where we were toasting the big 4-0, my husband’s job in educational research was one such topic, so was the bottle of Scotch I gave him for his birthday–and plans to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary in Scotland, and our ideas about a future dream home. 

Half-way through our dinner, at a table next to ours sat another couple who appeared to be double-dating.  They looked nice and young and well–perfect.  I overheard one of the gals talking about working with her personal trainer earlier that day (I fingered the roll of flab that snuck out from my waistband and blubbered over the top of my pants).  Her male significant other was proudly discussing the kudos he received at his law firm when he announced their engagement.  The other woman began telling the bride-to-be about wedding vendors.  I sighed.  I probably rolled my eyes, too. 

The ironic thing is, the couple on the other side of us–who may well have been twice our age–we mirroring our conversation.  While we spoke of really good Scotch, they reminisced about a trip they took to the highlands.  We talked about educational research, and so did they.  As we talked about dream homes, they shared memories of the homes they grew up in. 

Perhaps we were more aligned with the older couple. 

After a relaxing couple of days, we knew our time was coming to an end.  In the breakfast room at the hotel, I told my husband that I was feeling ready to get back to the girls, “I feel rested and renewed.  I think I can do this again.”  I was even a teensy bit excited about riding in the back of the van and watching a DVD with them.

And so we asked the valet at the four-star hotel to bring our minivan around.

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