Spare Tickets

My husband received a phone call yesterday as we were finishing a late dinner.  One of his friends had two extra tickets to the evening's baseball game and wanted to know if he'd like them.  Of course he'd like them.  It was the perfect August evening -- warm air, calm breeze, the promise of a beautiful sunset.  Who wouldn't want to go to a ball game on a night like that?

And you know who my husband took to the game?  Our five-year-old.

I was completely deflated.  Logistically, it was impossible for me to go with him.  Even if we scrambled for a babysitter to watch the two older girls and toted the baby with us, we'd be late to the game by the time the sitter arrived.  If we went as a family and bought extra tickets to supplement the freebies, we'd be seated in different sections, our two-year-old would likely melt down into a puddle of exhaustion before the ninth inning, and I'd be sitting in bleacher seats trying to nurse the baby.  It wouldn't have been pretty.

I knew this.  Mentally, that is.  Emotionally, I wanted nothing more to be the one to be the one to head to the stadium, soak up the ballpark atmosphere, and watch the fireworks illuminate the inky black sky at the night’s end.

I felt trapped.

For whatever reason, I've been thinking about my life before children recently.  I try to remember what I did with my time.  There must have been so much time.  I attempt to rekindle the memory of waking up on own accord on a Saturday morning with a blank slate ahead of me.  Joel and I rack our brains with the question What did we do back then?

Of course, recollections of our lives before children are now glamorized and edited -- remembering the freedoms, but forgetting that we contended with different responsibilities before we had children.  Still, I occasionally wonder why we didn't do more, travel more, eat out more, or live more spontaneously.  If I knew how many times renting a movie would be the only option for a night's entertainment now, would I have boycotted all DVDs then?

I watched Joel and Reese drive away.  Determined to enjoy the night on my own, I packed Brooke and Kerrington into the unwieldy double stroller for a walk up the street.  Kerrington cried.  Brooke attempted elaborate prison breaks, flinging herself from the stroller and taking off as fast as her legs could take her.  Once we returned home, I read the same book to Brooke four times in a row while nursing Kerrington for the sixth time that day.  After tucking the girls into bed for the night, I went back outside and climbed the small hill in our backyard to watch the sunset.

It was perfect. 

From where I sat I could watch the baseball stadium's lights in the distance, and I wondered what sights and sounds Reese and Joel were experiencing.

One day life is going to open up again.  One day there won't be a baby to nurse, a toddler to chase, and a near-kindergartner to entertain.  And when this happens -- and when my house is finally clean and quiet and my time is once again my own -- it will be easy to look back and edit the monotony and the drudgery out of these days that I'm currently experiencing.  It will be easy to look back and recall only the amazing fullness of them.

It's a reminder to enjoy these days exactly as they are now, gritting through the rough spots, accepting the mundane, cherishing the fullness. 

Open days will come again.

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