Sunday, February 04, 2007

A Farce, from beginning, to (almost) end

This was The Big Weekend--an overnight trip to my sister's house in Exurbia. The plan was to drive there during Miss Baby's first nap on Saturday, then my sister, S., and I would drive into the Big Smoke to buy me some cool boots as a consolation for having suddenly become one year older. Pynchon would stay at S.'s and watch Miss Baby, and then in the evening, Pynchon and I would do dinner-and-a-movie while S. played 'Favorite Auntie'. After a no-doubt romantic night on the pull-out couch, we would head back home around the time of Miss Baby's first nap.

Got that? In retrospect, the plan seems a little ambitious. And, indeed, it all went to hell rather quickly.

Of course, I did in fact jinx it on Friday night, writing about Miss Baby's new and improved sleep habits. Like Her Bad Mother just wrote, I too have been waking up around 3am, baby or no baby, and just lying in bed worrying until I finally fall asleep. So I woke up at 3am, and then at around 3:30, Miss Baby began to talk to herself, intermittently but audibly, for an hour. An hour! So I listened. When she started hollering at 4:30, I was ready for the ten minutes of breastfeeding: it was actually a relief to have to intervene, to do something.

So I started the day a little tired. The drive was great, and S. and I made it into the city later than expected, but happy. We hit every shoe store on Queen and a good number (in desperation) in the mall. No worthy boots to be found. Apparently, it's spring. Did I mention we were both frozen to the core and dashing blindly from store to store in a biting wind? Ultimately, we left the city without a new pair of cool boots for me but with a raging tension headache from hunching up my shoulders for three hours.

Pynchon, meanwhile, had a something of a trying day, made more trying by a baby who wouldn't sleep, and an insufficient lunch. When we finally headed out on our date, an hour later than expected, he was crabby and starving and I was tired and headachy. In the background, Miss Baby was yelling her head off because her bath was too cold. Auspicious.

We drove to The Big Mall, twenty minutes away, where we were unable to find the restaurant S. recommended and couldn't find anywhere else to eat. We cashed in our pre-purchased movie tickets, and headed back out. We drove around Exurbia looking for a place to eat: grumpiness, hunger, tiredness, and headache increasing apace. We happened into a Chain Place that turned out to be so loud and bright and uncomfortable we abandoned our just-arrived drinks, settled up and left. Happily, there was a family-run Italian restaurant about 10 parking spaces away, and we were relieved to get in there.

You'd think this is where the fun part of the evening starts, wouldn't you?

It's not so easy to halt crabby/tired/headachy/starving in its tracks and it looked like the evening was going to go right off the rails, the kind of evening that makes tax preparation look like a more enjoyable time. I'm not going to lie to you: we had to grit our teeth and work pretty damn hard to be pleasant to each other. Tempers were short. Feeling were hurt. It got worse before it got better. And, amazingly, by the end of the night, it did get better. Better enough that we could describe the evening as a wonderful time: we were giggling and teasing each other and felt lighter and freer and younger and more a couple than before. We ran like children from the restaurant to the car, screeching in shock at the cold, and then laughing and bouncing in the car in desperate effort to warm up. We had fun.

When we moved to Ontario and got engaged, Pynchon always used to tease me by saying "There's going to be a MARRIAGE!" where you might instead expect to hear, "There's going to be a DIVORCE!"--you know, when somebody eats all somebody else's special snacks, or when somebody doesn't push the driver's seat back and somebody else bangs their knees on the steering wheel getting into the car. I've always really loved that idea: that we might be annoying each other now, but we're in this for the long haul.

So much of my marriage is sweetness and light--but significant parts of it are headache and grump, tired and hungry. You work with what you have, and you try to make the best of it.
And I have found that our efforts as a couple in this regard have paid nothing but dividends. Our ill-fated date was no exception. The ill-omens may have knocked us down, but they did not drag us out. To have managed to rescue the evening into something as pleasant as it turned out to be was, I think, a testament to the goodwill that Pynchon and I both try to keep at the forefront of our marriage, as much as it might slip during the occasional perfect storm of childcare frustrations, lack of sleep, physical discomfort, and rumbly tummies.

There's going to be a MARRIAGE: boots or no boots, pull-out couch or no pull-out couch, could there be a better birthday?


Beck said...

Ah, marriage. I think the ability to be civil and kind to each other even when worn right out is the best indicator of marital success.

Mad Hatter said...

Happy birthday, kiddo.

And those sleep patterns. I fear they may be shot for life.

ewe are here said...

I really really like your attitude, 'There's going to be a MARRIAGE'. I wish more people would approach it this way.

happy birthday

NotSoSage said...

Again, happy birthday!

I'm sorry to hear that there are no good boots to be found...and not just 'cause I plan to head out on a similar excursion, myself. Did you hit Fluevogs?

Great, great, description of what makes it work. Joe and I almost always are able to turn those bad situations around to fits of laughter, and I think it's one of the keys to our relationship thus far.

nomotherearth said...

Happy Birthday! Your attitude impresses me. I'm more inclined to stay grumpy once I've gotten on that track. Thank goodness Mr Earth is so easy-going and funny.

Mimi said...

Fluevog was my very first stop--I'm replacing a pair of ankle boots that are the exact same as my previous pair of ankle boots, and I've worn both of them clean out. Sigh. But the pair I really like ... all out of my size. But there is a sale ...

I fear I may sound smug or self-congratulatory in the post: it was DAMN HARD to turn that date-night around. I too am inclined to get grumpy and stay that way. It is part of my continuing Personal Growth project to try to dampen that aspect of my personality. At least there are clear rewards for doing it! :-)

Her Bad Mother said...

'There's gonna be a MARRIAGE' - promise or threat? Yee-HAH.

The husband and I have had times like those, when the wheels just get stuck in the mud and spiiiinnnnn, spewing dirt until we throw up our hands and admit that we're not in control and allow ourselves to laugh. Oh, how I hear you.