A few months ago, my husband asked me to save the dates, the weekend before Mother’s Day.
“Schedule nothing – no playdates, no kiddie birthday parties.”
He knows how much I savor (good) surprises, the build-up of anticipation even MORE than the actual event sometimes. So when I learned that he was going to take 1.5 precious vacation days off for this surprise, I knew what was gonna go down.
Obviously, only one possibility. To visit his groomsman and his family in his new home in Portland, Maine. Totally made sense – quick plane ride, close enough to spend only three days there, a place to stay, and we had been talking about visiting ever since they moved there last year. I didn’t bother to guess any more until the actual day of our trip, as I was completely sure of myself.
No brainstorming necessary.
One thing that threw me off was that said groomsman was posting pictures of his family in Disney World. Either this was an elaborate ploy to throw me off (which I squashed right away as his family is on his Facebook and he wouldn’t want to confuse them) or aha! I got it. We were going to meet them in Florida and stay at E’s father’s condo. I even teased Kevin, “Hey, can I write ‘see you soon’ on E’s Wall before our flight so that he knows that I already know. Why am I your fave wrestler right now? Just call me Triple H because I am that damn good!”
Kevin just smiled. Oh, I knew that smile. I’d embarrassed the poor guy by guessing the whole weekend correctly in one fell swoop, after all his efforts to surprise me!
Kevin came home from a half-day, with a kale/apple/lemon juice on the rocks from a juice stand by his office to healthily kick off my early Mother’s Day adventure. He impressed me by showing me all of Micah’s clothes he had packed for the trip. He asked me not to look through his own suitcase as some clues might get revealed. He packed a lot of my stuff, including my hideous bathing suit and a couple dresses. I added some staples like maternity pants and cardigans. I asked him if he had told our doorman that we will be away for the weekend and he said he had taken care of it a while back (I confess that Nervous Nelly me snuck away to remind him even after Kevin had assured me).
It was game time – we had to raise up out of our apartment and get to JFK.
But M was not dressed in his “public clothes” as he was wearing some worn hand-me-downs that should not be handed down to one more generation of babies. I asked K to please change M’s outfit but K said, “Just let him wear this. It’s comfortable.” I said, “We really need to stop choosing comfort over everything. He can still be presentable while comfy!” So K relented and changed M.
We got to JFK two hours before our flight. We wheeled all of our belongings while K carried M who was excitedly looking around in the parking lot. I ended up strolling K’s suitcase as I told him to just watch out for M, I can totally handle strolling their stuff at the very least. K also assured me that leaving our car in the parking lot over the weekend was not going to be too pricey. He also assured me that someone would be arriving at our destination with a carseat for M. I said, “Of course. E or E’s dad will be picking us up then? How sweet of them!”
Once we got inside JFK, K looked around for seats. I said I don’t need to sit but he can go ahead and catch his breath before security. He said, “No, let’s all sit together as a family.” OH SH*T. I started to feel weird and less cocky about my certainty that we were going to Maine/Florida that day.
We sat down and he handed me a pink envelope. “Jihee-yah. First, just read the card, then you can look at what’s inside.”
OH SH*T, OH SH*T, OH SH*T. Weird feeling. Not so cocky now.
I opened the envelope and read the sweet Mother’s Day card inside. Then I opened up a folded up piece of paper inside. Tears started flowing down my cheeks like the drool from my boy’s drooliest mouth.
ONE boarding pass for ONE Jihee Lee from JFK to LAX from Thurs night to Sunday redeye.
“No, no, no…I don’t need a break. Really. Don’t send me away. Dontsendmeaway! I’m good right here.”
“And wait, how!? I just talked to my parents today and they knew something but…but not this!? They couldn’t have kept THIS to themselves, their big mouths! And I’ve been emailing with J and S. J even asked me where I was going on FB today. I’ve never been apart from Micah – EVER! Go from zero to FOUR nights away!?” He assured me that he had already planned a fun-filled weekend with his boy and that I need not worry about a thing…that I should just savor my last moments with M here before I walked through security.
He had planned this since the moment our second pregnancy test said “PREGNANT” (with baby #2). SINCE FEBRUARY! My girls were in on it since then, too!
UTTER SHOCK. (AT THAT MOMENT AND FOR ABOUT A WEEK AFTER).
Once I started getting used to the idea that in about six hours, I would be back home in LA, on a flight all by myself again like back in 2010, maybe even reading trashy magazines instead of wrangling in my boy in the aisles of the plane, I told K not to prolong the inevitable. We should just say goodbye right then or else it will be too hard for me to go through with. Let’s just rip off the band-aid.
All this time, M was just running around the airport and excitedly exploring. He did reach out for me as we said goodbye but I hugged him lots, made only one U-turn before security lines to give one more hug and kiss.
Then I was off for one night with my parents and the rest of the weekend with my girls. I was in shock while I waited in the security lines. Everything was falling into place. K’s fake luggage turned out to be filled with a bag full of M’s old clothes that we needed to put away for storage. K had never talked to our doorman because there was no need. He didn’t want to change M out of his tore-up clothes because he knew he ain’t going nowhere! My girls, too, were suspect, now that I think about it. They didn’t ask their usual million follow-up questions about K’s surprise project. They too easily said, “Alright, then, have fun!” instead of gushing about K and how they liked him more than they liked my crazy ass.
The weekend was legendary. For both me and my boys. Sure I thought about my boys constantly, like a movie I couldn’t turn off in my head, but I was incredibly gifted with this last hurrah before baby #2 to recharge and exhale and remember me, myself, and I once again. My boys went to the Hall of Science, the park, a Mets game with our friends, and more.
When they visited some friends on Long Island that Saturday, the men, all fathers of toddlers, tried to deny entrance to K as they claimed that he had lost his man card for sending me away for that long and giving their wives some funny ideas. So, this is the story of how my husband, for one weekend in May, became the Most Reviled Husband in NYC (or as much as I could crank out during M’s nap!).
moments after being surprised!
5.6.12 my boys holding it down at Mets game while mama away (pic by Uncle AO)