I really want to go to Paris.
I have been to Paris, several times actually. I’ve seen The Louvre and eaten the food. But for some reason Paris gnaws at me as something I am missing. So to clarify, I want to go to Paris with my husband. And to clarify my clarification, without our son.
I want a little adult time.
I have not seen “Revolutionary Road,” but I know enough about it to know that this is not that. I may joke that I want to move to Paris. Occasionally, I may seem jealous of friends who live there. But I am not miserable living in the suburbs. (Does Santa Monica even count as the suburbs?) I really like our little beach town lifestyle.
Really, I just want to wander the streets carrying a baguette, arm in arm with my husband, feeling the crisp air and the history around us, knowing we have nowhere we need to be and so, if we chose to wander those streets all night, we could.
I love our son. This is not about our son. This is not about not wanting to be with our son. This is about us. And sometimes we need to be just us. Our quality time together is limited.
We have taken a vacation since our son Benjamin was born. But there is no more lounging by the pool and reading six books in a week. That vacation has been retired. As one friend of mine called it, vacation with children is really just a change of scenery.
At first, I never thought I could leave Benjamin for longer than a few hours. The first time we went to dinner, Benjamin was only a few weeks old. We were pushed out the door by our baby nurse who insisted we go. I thought it was presumptuous of her to tell us what to do. And then the elevator in the parking structure by the restaurant got stuck briefly. I started to hyperventilate, thinking I would be away from him for too long.
But once I settled into the evening with my husband, that night was a deep breath for me. I was so fragile from lack of sleep and all the other new mom stresses. That deep breath pumped me back up so that I could take care of this other little person.
Then we went to a wedding and my mother came out from New York to stay with him as we headed to Santa Barbara. I cried and fussed and then, ahh, slept in. By the middle of the weekend I was asking, “Benjamin who?”
There were more weddings and more trips by my mother. Then she made the ultimate offer. She came out to stay with him, not so we could go to a wedding, but just so we could go away.
We took off for Desert Hot Springs and stayed at a fabulous little place called The El Morocco Inn where Casablanca played in the lobby at all hours. We read books, soaked in hot springs, ordered pizza to our room and giggled and watched movies. We slept when we felt like it. It was delightful.
There is nothing wrong with needing some time away from your children. In fact, it is necessary. A little refueling. So we try to spend time together as a couple. These little breaks from the day to day of parenting allow me to be a better mom.
But a night out or a weekend away is a far cry from a European vacation.
Paris is a little too far. It would take a little too long. It’s a little too pricey. The logistics panic me.
I know Paris is a cliché. I know there are other places to explore. I know my husband would like to see The Netherlands or Argentina. Heck, I’ve never been to New Orleans. We could eat beignets and soak in some jazz and have a fabulous time. But it is Paris I cling to, though I know it is not about Paris.
It is about romance.
When I first met my husband. I used to get cold and shake a little right before he kissed me. When he dropped me off after only our second date, I missed him as soon as I walked up my stairs. The comfort we have with each other now could never compete with those early butterflies. That comfort, laughter and the intrinsic way we know each other wins every time.
But sometimes I miss those butterflies. And I feel they are flapping their wings on the streets of Paris.
I know this is not true. I do not need to go to Paris to know they are also buzzing around elsewhere. It’s just hard to notice them when chasing a toddler.
Paris may have to wait for us, but we’ll always have The El Morocco Inn.
Rachel Zients Schinderman lives in Santa Monica with her family, where she runs writing groups for moms. She can be reached at Rachel@mommiebrain.com