The other night we ventured to a Mexican restaurant. You know the kind of place- not exactly a date spot, but perfect for families like ours. Plenty of chips and salsa and menus that come with crayons for the kids. They seated us in the back corner. The man in the next booth smiled as he watched us settle in. "We were hoping you would sit next to us," he said, with sincerity.
"Yeah right," I smiled back.
We proceeded to fulfill every single cliche of a family with young kids. Water was spilled. Kids cried. Kids made up. Trips to the potty. Crayons were exchanged. Refried beans were flung. And I watched as this couple watched us. Their kids were grown, she said. And I could tell that she would trade places with me in a heartbeat, to have one more messy, chaotic family meal when her kids were small.
And I can't get the image of that couple out of my mind. We're deep in the season where the best thing I can imagine is an uninterrupted afternoon alone. On the days when I long for quiet, let me remember them.