Someday, we’ll be sitting at a restaurant we’ve never been to. We’ll share a bottle of Brunello because we always said that 10 years from now, we would. I’ll be wearing pants that cost more than a turkey sandwich because our children will be old enough not to spill on me anymore, and lipstick because no one was jumping on my bed as I was getting ready. I may even wear heels, though Lord knows I’ll need help walking in them, it’s been so long.

Someday, over candlelight and a white tablecloth, we’ll giggle about how we used to call our parents exactly at 4:30 to see if we could “stop by” with the kids, hoping they would feed us and we could cross Thursday dinner off the budget list. We’ll remember what it felt like to put water in the last of the dish detergent to make our own and save 50 cents. We’ll talk about the time when we couldn’t tell the difference between night and dayfor yearsand we’ll speak about it with a fondness for the littleness of our children, who are now halfway to grown. We’ll remember the way they smelled right after they fell asleep, the first time they were sickI cried then, and every time after, and you always kept it together for me.

We will order appetizers, and salads, and then the main, and dessert because we won’t have to pay a sitter anymore. We will even linger, finish the bottle, and order espressos because if we are up for one night, we can handle it now. We sleep the rest of them.

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We’ll whisper long into the night about the parent-teacher conferences, and the strange first words, “Bobbi-doe,” that we swore had meaning in another time. How their hair went from blonde to dirty blonde, to the color it is now.

And I’ll tell you what a joy it was to parent alongside youto watch you wipe their tears and their vomit and their hearts off the floor. 

To sit beside you as one of the only dads present at every single meeting, show, play, game, match. You took off of work, took buses and trains to run to them. That’s how they always see you, as running to them.

We’ll laugh about how tight things were then, how we had to choose between which bill to pay or which whole chicken to buy. How you stayed at a terrible job for far too long, and how it all seems so funny and different now, and how grateful we were for how it forged us into the people we became.

We’ll whisper over dregs of espresso beans about the times we threw dinner parties with our last 10 dollars. How we spent our tax return each year on a summer vacation in the mountains so our babies could know what it meant to breathe good air and soil. To swim. To laugh without volume control. To be together and have it be enough.

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We’ll close down the restaurant, and we’ll walk in silence back to the car, grateful for where we are, but slightly sad for what was. We will miss the times she sang us awake at 3 a.m. with show tunes. You will miss her little girl voice. I will miss having crooked lipstick because we always had to share the mirror. We will miss this.

This is happening right now, but we will miss it someday.

The dirty clothes and the dirty hair and the tired bodies and the lack of sleep and the missing of each other because there are little people who take up space between us and the empty bank accounts and the empty cabinets and the little girl giggles and the Disney movies and the tickle fights and the million wet, lollipop kisseswe will look back on this, right now, as being one of the best times of our entire lives.

And we will be right.

So I will make you a cup of tea, and we will watch Octonauts one more time until we feel like our eyes will bleed because we know, in 10 years, our cups will hold a wine too expensive for the cracked mugs we have right now. And there is a table, with a white tablecloth waiting for the next act of our lives. But it’s not ready yet.

Neither are we.

Jenny Vanderberg Shannon

Jenny Vanderberg Shannon has a B.A. in English Literature and an M.A. in Education Leadership and a Ph.D. in overcommitment. She resides in northern New Jersey with her husband Rich and their two, wild daughters. She’s a writer, reader, cook and you’ll often find her at the piano or in the garden. Basically a contemporary Victorian lady with a deep-seated penchant for Thai food, fart jokes, and strong coffee.