Eva and I got to spend the weekend visiting some of our closest friends in Northern Virginia and celebrating their son’s third birthday. We had a wonderful time despite bad traffic and a complete lack of nap time TWO DAYS IN A ROW (shudders to think what COULD have happened). We got to see Eva’s great-grandparents and great-uncle, eat cake, watch fireworks, snuggle babies, and thoroughly enjoy ourselves.
It’s amazing what two days of travel can teach you. Here’s what I learned this weekend:
1. I-95 is a parking lot on Saturdays. Abandon hope after Fredericksburg and go to IKEA at Potomac Mills if you were stupid and kept trying anyway. Next time, leave on Friday.
2. There is something magical about a barely traveled, tree-lined I-85 at twilight. A purple sky and a full moon make up for multiple near-death experiences on I-95.
3. My daughter has two personas. One for people she knows and another for people she doesn’t. The other moms at the party Saturday all commented on how sweet and timid Eva was and I thought (but did not say), “Yeah, that’s not really her at all. She was just taking her time evaluating the situation. There’s no timidity in discernment.” Note to self: always give Eva time to acclimate to her situation.
4. Real friends are incredibly precious. I am so lucky to have had that wonderful woman in my life for nearly a decade. Five hours of driving really shouldn’t stop me from seeing her and her sweet family more often. There are some things time cannot tarnish; a true friendship is one of them.
5. I could hold a sleeping baby forever.
6. Austrian men look good in party hats.
7. Hearing my grandfather tell my daughter how her great-great-grandfather played the organ at York Minster is now one of my sweetest memories. I can only pray Eva remembers, too.
8. Children are simultaneously direct reflections of their parents and wholly independent. It’s truly fascinating to see yourself in your daughter and your best friend in her son, but also know without a doubt that your children are going to make their own decisions, but they’ll be decisions you made once upon a time and it won’t matter that you already lived it. They will feel their own emotions, reactions, and pain and respond exactly the way you would but it doesn’t have anything to do with you. Maybe we take parenting too personally. Maybe it’s ok if Eva makes all the same mistakes I did. It will still be her life, not mine.
9. Birthday cake, fireworks, and complete disregard for appropriate bedtime does not stop 3 and 4 year olds from sleeping like the dead afterwards. Indulging your kids with good things every once in awhile doesn’t hurt.
10. Travel is good for the soul. (Ok, I knew that already but it was nice to be reminded.)