Dan and I - in the divide-and-conquer superhero style that characterizes our nights - get kids to bed and return to
friends swilling drinks at our kitchen table. Beers are refilled, dinner dishes swept away, and topics turn to
night-skiing, trekking in Peru and other mind-scrambling events that exist in a parallel universe where semi-continent
people don't follow you around hucking demands like rocks from a slingshot.
Conversely, our dear childless friends squint their eyes at the strange path we've walked five years now. This path
where we exit parties right as the fun starts to avoid detonating the little bombs ticking inside an overtired child's
head. They've noticed we're unable to leave the house without a steamer trunk of snacks and sundries.
Our weekends are a continual attempt to attain that perfect combo of child-friendliness and fun for adults, which
narrows our options down to approximately three. And what passes for conversation between Dan and I sounds like this:
You do pajamas, I'll do teeth." OK. You do books, I'll do lullabies."
And it's not that I'd rather be trekking in Peru or eschewing my responsible 10 p.m. bedtime for the salsa band that
starts at 9:30. But I listen to our friends' stories of napping in a field of columbines (presumably after doing
something even more fun) with a little slug of drool sliding out of my mouth. These childless friends are such exotic
creatures with their clean hair, houseful of chokeables and weekends yawning open like a board book tossed from a
Last summer, on a camping trip, I watched our friends, a carefree twosome, walk hand in hand through the twilit meadow
back to their tucked-away camp, only dogs nipping at their heels. It was the most romantic thing I had ever seen.
Meanwhile, Dan and I were staring down a night of soothing small, mouth-snoring, fleece-covered people who had a
propensity to throw elbows and tragically misplace stuffed animals in the dark.
But where the two worlds collide is a place of great beauty and opportunity. Our friends without children are dazzled
by Col and Rose's scribbly drawings, squeaky pronouncements about life and their immutable, exotic childness. They pop
in after skiing with enough zest to read Col chapters from his Indian Stories book and to chase Rose until she
collapses. If this is the village it takes to raise children, sign me up.
The kids snooze while we get the scoop on the upcoming Peru adventure. Meanwhile, my eyelids sag and my back aches from
lugging today's steamer trunk. I notice one freewheeling friend, pushing 40, is completely missing the forehead crease
canyoned into my own head as if by the geologic events of parenthood. And as much as I miss several hundred things
about preparenthood days, I never would trade this messy and lovely journey, not for an eternity of sleep-filled
nights, not even for the smooth marble finish of unblemished skin. But, it's 10 p.m. - too late to contemplate such
Rachel Turiel's column runs the first and third Sunday. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And check out her blog, 6512andgrowing.wordpress.com.