The kid had her first friend sleepover recently. As much as I love my little one, I couldn't wait to have a whole night alone with the hubby. We didn’t have anything specific planned, but I was sure that whatever we decided to do would be super duper over-the-top fun and fabulous. At least that’s what I hoped for. As we all know, though, sometimes even the best made plans go astray.
Even before we'd arrived at Sleepover Central, my image of the perfect evening slowly started to unravel. Traffic on Clark had slowed to a standstill and our driver was on the verge of taking a snooze at the wheel. I could have crawled there faster, or at the very least hopped out of the car to get the driver a cup of coffee. Finally, after 30 minutes of agony, we got close enough to where hubby could go snag us a table at our favorite sushi spot, Toro Sushi, while I dropped the kid off at her friend’s house a few blocks away.
Prepared for tears or at least a little clinginess, I was more than a little surprised when my kid barely waved goodbye before barreling up the stairs and disappearing into her friend’s apartment. “Have fun,” I call out to her rapidly disappearing back.
“Guess I’m raising an independent kid,” I tell myself, a tad weepily.
I headed over to Toro Sushi, where hubby managed to score the last open table. The restaurant is BYOB, and by the time I plopped myself down, hubby had already poured me a full glass of wine that he purchased next door. The wine tasted awful. I searched the table for the bottle it came in and saw nothing but hubby’s beverage and a black box. Yes, hubby bought wine, in a cardboard box.
I tried my best to ignore the nasty taste but quickly realized there’s no way I could eat the best sushi in the whole world and celebrate my daughter’s first friend sleepover with bad wine. That would be an insult to my daughter, Toro Sushi, and me. So hubby went back to the liquor store and returned with a Pinot Grigio, one that required a bottle opener.
I wish I could say that the rest of the evening was smooth sailing. Here’s what should have happened: cocktails and dessert outside at the Sofitel, followed by some QT at home, a few pages of The New Yorker, and the yummiest night’s sleep ever. What took place instead was a basketball game that made hubby grouchy and then a spat over his lack of enthusiasm over a piece I was writing. Before I knew it, we were giving each other the silent treatment, and I was making plans to snooze with the stuffed animals in my daughter’s room. What the heck? What happened to the perfect kid-free evening?
Perhaps the answer can be found right in the question. We’d put so much pressure on ourselves to have that quintessential grownups-only night that we panicked. So minor irritations like traffic, boxed wine, a few missed foul shots, and a less than enthusiastic comment about my work added up to some major disappointment on both ends. In trying to create the perfect evening, it turns out we had overlooked the most important component – appreciation for each other.
The next morning, once my frustration had fizzled, I realized a few things. The first is that you can’t try to recapture the pre-kid, wild, rock star years when you were never actually wild, or a rock star. The second is that as happy as you are waving goodbye to your little one before her first friend sleepover, you’re also a little sad about what it represents, which is a new phase in your child’s and your family’s life.
For her next night away, I think I'll adjust my expectations (except for the great sushi). Connecting to the guy I've chosen to spend my life is all I really need. The rest is gravy.