On Friday afternoon Joel and I strolled through the conservatory, enjoying the plants and butterfly room, basking in the calmness that a day away from children exudes.
Then, I heard them. Uninterested in the butterflies, two young boys began running along the pathways. Their younger sister sat in a stroller, tossing her sippy cup onto the ground repeatedly. The mother picked it up, absentmindedly wiped its top with her shirt, and kept handing it back. She warned her boys to be quiet, her own voice escalating.
"This," she sputtered, gesturing to the room wildly with her arms, "is a tranquil place. Be tranquil!"
It was my favorite overheard statement of the entire weekend.
I plan on using it sometime this week with my own kids.
But, my oh my, our weekend away was tranquil indeed. This was the first time we ever had been away from our children overnight. We slept until 8:15 on Saturday morning. We moved at a leisurely pace, enjoyed uninterrupted conversation, and attended the hottest outdoor wedding in recorded history on Saturday afternoon.
I took this picture after we got back in the car, after we had cranked the air conditioner and the temperature already had dropped.
During the ceremony I nervously waited for a groomsman in a heavy tuxedo to pass out from heat exhaustion, but everyone held their ground.
Still, if you can leave a wedding ceremony dehydrated, we managed it. En route to the reception we stopped in a convenience store to buy drinks and in my case, to embrace a bag of ice that was on sale for a mere 99 cents.
So worth the picture, even if Joel shook his head at me. "You get goofier when you're not around the kids," he observed.
Uncaged, I like to think of it. The layers of responsibility drop off, and I end up reverting to antics like balancing a chopstick on my upper lip while we're out at dinner because no little people will see me, mimic my actions, and need correction.
I turned thirteen again, just for a little bit. We enjoyed ourselves so much.
Then we drove home on Sunday. As soon as we came through the door, we gathered the girls in our arms, hugging and kissing, tickling and wrestling them. I held each girl at arms' length, sure that each had grown, before drawing them near again.
We've been home for over a full day, and life is now back to normal. Not tranquil in any sense of the word.