So, it's been since before Aleni was born that Rey and I have gone anywhere together alone. At least 5 months...I want to say maybe 7? And, we went on a hair-raising, not-so-relaxing 3-month travel across many miles. Also, it has been non-stop, don't-blink-or-you'll-miss-something action around here since we landed. Rey has been "in between" these weeks: In between a phone call and a trip to the mechanics. Between counseling team members and getting things organized. I basically have meals ready at the right times, pray for him before he leaves and try to prop myself awake until he gets back home. All this to say: I was more than ready for my birthday on Monday. Why? Because a nice guy named Derek is here for the summer, and he said he could hang out at our apartment after the kids were down, and Rey and I could go. Out. On the town. Without stroller, diaper bag, burp rags--or the accompanying child. I would have Rey all to myself for 3--maybe 4--hours.
I keep forgetting! I always forget--we live in Mexico, helloooo. Don't make plans. That's the worst.
On Sunday, a phone call came for Rey (as always). After he hung up, I asked who it was. It was a friend of ours from where we used to live (Rio Bravo). "Ah," says I, "What did he want?" No, Rey said: He was just saying "hi". Ah, ok. In the back of my mind, I knew this friend had said he was going to come some time to record with another friend here in Fresnillo. I should have pressed Rey for more details, but I didn't.
On Monday, I awoke to a sweet card on the table from Rey and the babies. Rey had also written a note on the bathroom mirror with an erasable marker. Aww, great start!
Around 10 am, Rey said that the "Rio Bravo Friend & Family" was on his way here. What?! On my birthday? "So," I say, "What does that do to our plans?" No, everything will stay the same. We will chat with them, and then they will want to relax from the trip and we'll go out. Okee dokee. (Why, oh why, do I allow myself to believe??)
It seemed as if the day crawled by. Would it never be bedtime?? I was washing dishes when the family arrived. Rey went to open the gate for them and help them unpack. A few minutes later, it sounded as if a mariachi was at my front door. The family was there, singing "Las Mañanitas" (a traditional birthday song) for me. They came in, wished me well, prayed for me and said they were going to pay for Rey and my dinner that night. How sweet.
We sat around and chatted about the trip. After awhile, they stood up to go get settled in their room. The friend asked, "So, what time should we come over?" I was a little confused. Come over... to go out to eat. Together. Ah. Well, we had said 8--after the kids were in bed. 8 it was, he said. And his girls could watch the house.
I wasn't too happy. But, I should have seen it coming. In Mexico, spouses just don't do date nights. I mean, why? And, birthdays are huge party affairs. You invite over all your friends, neighbors and their dogs and cats. So, of course when Rey said, "It's Liz's birthday and we are planning on going out to eat"--they understood the "we" to include "them".
And--the idea of his girls staying. Nothing against them--but I know the "Mexican girl mindset". It is: "I know what to do with babies and I don't need to listen to what you say about what to do with them." So, I wasn't happy about that. I wanted Derek--because I knew he would just call us if one of them started crying, as opposed to going in and trying to "mommy" the situation.
I went through the motions of getting ready, but I wasn't happy about that either. I was looking forward to getting "really" dressed up, and it doesn't really feel right when you are going with another couple. In their 40's. Who you don't know that well.
We got in the van to go, and the friend said, "Ahhh. This is great. I've been wanting to get out with just my wife. You have nooo idea how hard it is to get away...." Oh, but yes. We do.
The meal was nice. I was serenaded once again at the dinner table (Did I mention I don't really enjoy being sung to--except by Rey? I mean--akward!). I asked Rey halfway through the meal if the girls had called him. No, he said. But they were going to text their dad if anything happen (don't know why the dad and not Rey).
We got home to a brightly lit home. A lot of running and talking was going on. One little girl ran down: "Oh, man. Where have you been, the babies are crying and crying..." Noooo, I moaned inwardly and went to the room they were staying in.
The TV was on, and Noah was sitting, hunched down on a footstool in front of it. The oldest daughter looked at me with haunted eyes, bouncing a red-eyed Aleni. "Holaaa," I said as calmly and cheerily as I could manage.
Noah turned to me with the most terrified eyes I've ever seen him have and his face crumpled as though all of his resolve at bravery melted at the sound of my voice. He was literally trembling as he reached for me. I scooped him up in my arms, remembered to say the most sincere "thank you" I could muster, and headed back to our apartment. I passed the friend who was saying, "...I just now got the text, can you believe it??" I wanted to cry with Noah. I know he has huge separation issues, and to be taken from his bed in the dark of night by people he hardly knows and be with them for an hour or so, with no parents in sight, had to have been his worse nightmare.
I held him close for a few minutes before laying him back in bed. Snuggled Aleni, nursed her, and put her to bed.
And, that, my friends, is how a perfectly planned day crumbles around you.
I laid in bed, staring at the ceiling, my heart hurting for Noah--and, let's be honest-- for me. Rey got in bed, saying "Sorry" for about the 100th time that evening. I said, "So, I guess I get my birthday present tomorrow?"--knowing that there wasn't one.
I was angry about that--that on top of everything, there wasn't a present, when I spend a good part of the year scheming and planning his birthday. I felt forgotten and unappreciated.
Turns out, he had thought about a present, and his plan had been to surprise me by going clothes shopping. When we were out. On the town. Alone.