How the other half lives

Every now and then, I heave a wistful sigh while catching up on Facebook.


One friend spent the weekend at a film festival. Another posted gorgeous photos from a daylong wander at a winery. A friend who was reveling in a quiet house with a drink in one hand and a book in the other elicited especially loud sighs from me.


What do all these people have in common? No kids.


It's not that I regret having a child -- we had the luxury of choosing when to start a family, and it was just the right time for us. We had plenty of time, pre-kid, to go to film festivals, hang out at wineries and bum around. And we did. It doesn't bother me that I stay home most Saturday nights now, and it's fun to spend our weekend days doing kid stuff. No problem.


But every now and then I wish we could go see a movie on the lawn at the N.C. Museum of Art. Or go shopping in a glass-filled place. Or go out to dinner and stay there for three hours. And we can, in theory, if we want to find a babysitter and go through all that.


We're fortunate to have several great babysitters -- our friends who are great with kids and seem to actually like hanging out with a toddler (weirdos). And we call on them when there's a can't miss concert or we just want to go on a date, once in a blue moon.


But what I really miss is the spontaneity. I'd love to read a review of a movie in the paper Friday morning and then go to that movie Friday night. If I drive past a craft fair on the way somewhere else, I'd love to stop and poke around. I'd love to relive the wedding anniversary five years ago when we woke up in the morning, wondered what to do with ourselves, and decided to get in the car and drive to the beach for a few hours. Or I'd love to spontaneously decide not to do anything at all. Sure, there were these errands and this thing we were going to do, but you know what? Eh. Let's just stay home and watch crappy TV for the afternoon instead.


I wouldn't trade all the fun we have with Nora for any of that. And I know as she gets older we'll start getting some of that freedom back – plus the enjoyment of sharing those activities with our daughter. But for now, life has to stick to a plan (even if those plans have to shift at the whims of a toddler), and I'll just have to pencil in time for wistful sighing every now and then.