Quiet evenings sometimes find us here, sharing hushed dialogue and the pleasure of each other's company.
8:45p. Baby strapped in; ready to go. My husband suddenly remembers we left the pacifier in the nursery and heads back toward the house.
"Leave it babe," I insist. "He'll be ok."
He gives me that look - the one that tells me he's going against his better judgment - then acquiesces with a shrug. I only half-believe myself; I just want to go.
8:46p. We're off. Finally.
8:51. A yawn from the backseat. We barely notice.
It's pitch black out. And rainy. But it's Saturday night. And it feels terribly wrong to be in the house.
In our former lives, we might be headed out for cheesecake, or taking a walk in one of our favorite DC neighborhoods, or looking up movie times. Instead we're here. In the car. Going nowhere really.
Times have changed. We have changed.
8:56p. He talks about hip hop while I struggle to keep up with the names of rappers I've never heard of. I listen intently, content to hear him speak passionately.
8:57p. "Paci?" The tiny voice calls from the backseat. The interruption stops my husband's analysis of the top 50 Christian rappers of all time mid-sentence.
"No paci," I reply matter-of-factly.
8:52p. My husband gives me a knowing glance. The tiny voice whimpers, but relents.
9:02p. "Two toasted graham lattes with caramel please?" Musa calls out in the drive-thru.
Random babblings from the backseat, excited by the loud talking and lights.
9:03p. "Babe, look," Musa says, fixing his gaze on the little boy in the backseat, now sitting with legs crossed and shin in hand as though he were an executive in a business meeting.
The little boy smiles wide, slowly realizing he is the center of attention. We three share laughs.
9:10p. "Thank you. Have a good night!" comes the voice from the window.
"Fries?" The little boy asks from the backseat, keenly observing the exchange of brown paper bags.
"No fries." I reply.
I break off a few pieces of sweet potato bread for him, which he gobbles up faster than I can get it in his mouth.
Musa and I exchange knowing glances.
9:27p. We pull up to the house. I hop out of the car, run inside and retrieve the beloved paci.
9:32p. Blessed quietness.
Hours of conversation ensue over coffee and carbs. On family. On marriage. On prayer. On love. On the little boy.
At last, the reward of the journey. This is why we have come. Time to enjoy each other's company. The thrill of going somewhere without the hassle of planning or finding a babysitter.
10:40p. We pull up to the house (again).
10:41p. Musa retrieves the now peacefully slumbering boy from the backseat.
10:43p. I gently peel off his hat and coat at the door. He is already bathed and dressed in his pajamas (marks of a veteran.)
10:45p. I hold the boy in my arms rocking him gently before laying him down. Not because he needs me to, but because I have missed him. Because I am not sure how in the world he is getting so big so quickly. Because I secretly long for the sleepless nights when his warm body nursed against mine.
He is changing. Us. Me.
10:51p. "Need anything babe?" Musa asks softly, peering into the darkness of our bedroom.
Even if he is wondering why I am cradling our 31-pound 19 month-old like the newborn he once was, he does not ask.
I smile, feeling a bit silly. "No, babe. I'm ok."
10:58p. At last, I lay the boy down in the bed beside me.
11:09p. Up writing to the sound of the little boy's breathing.
True, times have changed. We have certainly changed. But we have come to love our new lives. And our new selves.
Our very full and joyful lives. Our less selfish, more flexible selves.
And although we have to sneak our kid out at bedtime for late night coffee dates in the car just to get in quality time, we would have it no other way.
11:14p. Tear-filled eyes. So incredibly thankful.