On a date at Café Lalo, the famed coffee house from the movie You’ve Got Mail, David and I hatched a plan. When we got married we would celebrate two anniversaries—our wedding anniversary, and the anniversary of when we started dating.
“We’ll reenact it, every year!” I proclaimed excitedly, clearly under the influence of cappuccino. “We’ll dress up in the same clothes we wore, and go to that same spot in Central Park, and say the same words, in honor of the beginning of our relationship. Even when we have kids, even if we move out of New York City—we’ll still come back every fall to see the leaves in Central Park and to reenact that moment.”
It was a beautiful sentiment. And I was completely earnest in my intentions.
But this year on October 28th it was dinner-as-usual around our dining room table with our kids, some re-warmed leftovers, and some prunes for the baby because he was constipated. In the after-dinner jangle of dishes and baths, diaper changing and teeth brushing, in an attempt to at least salvage some of that sentiment from seven years prior, I made a suggestion: “Let’s have a family movie night and watch our wedding video.”
Our three-year-old Daniel was beside himself with excitement (anything to delay bedtime). Our living room isn’t exactly Central Park in the fall, but I figure it was better than expensive airfare and the prospect of traveling with kids. So after a successful search party found the wedding DVD on a dusty bookshelf in our bedroom, we hunkered down with bowls of microwave popcorn to watch.
Pachelbel’s Canon played as I walked down the aisle. Daniel pointed to David’s teary face on the screen, “Daddy’s crying?! Was he sad?” We assured him that Daddy was in fact ecstatic on our wedding day, and explained that sometimes people cry because they are happy.
The ceremony went on and Daniel was having fun pointing out relatives and friends that he recognized. Then he explained that he was not in the video of the ceremony because, actually, he was already at the reception waiting for the dance party to start. (He’s been to a number of weddings in his three years of life and, let me tell you, he knows how to live it up on the dance floor.)
We burst his bubble by explaining that he actually hadn’t been born yet. To which he declared that he was done watching our wedding video and was ready to watch some home videos of himself as a baby. We obliged, regaled his birth story in dramatic fashion, and sent him off to bed so that the real date night could begin.
If my 21-year-old self sitting at Café Lalo had been able to look into a glass ball and see our little family there on the couch on October 28th I wonder what I would have thought. It definitely wasn’t a “perfect” date. While Daniel and I watched the movie, David spent much of the time out in the car driving baby Peter until he fell asleep—poor constipated little fellow, it was the only thing that seemed to relax him. The night certainly didn’t match the plans we’d hatched at Café Lalo.
But it was precious family time nonetheless, and the good thing was that I didn’t get mad about it (like I probably would have done a year ago). In the past several years I’ve been working a lot on having realistic expectations (see here and here), being content whatever the circumstances, and choosing a positive attitude—none of which come naturally to me.
It’s a lesson David has often taught me by his calm example (and a reason I’m thankful I said yes on that October day in Central Park) and a lesson that I’ve seen modeled by friends and fellow I Believe in Love contributors. I’ve accepted that date nights will often look different at this stage of our married lives, and that’s okay—especially when it means getting to share some of our love story with our children.