Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Taking the Train for Father's Day

In my memory, Keith's first Father's Day was dismal. I was really stressed out and feeling overwhelmed with everything that just HAD to be done. (What was it? I have no idea. At that point, I wasn't even teaching yet, so it wasn't Work work. Just stuff, I guess.)

This year, I thought about it a lot as the day approached. I knew that I wanted to do something; in general, we tend to celebrate anniversaries by doing something together instead of focusing on gifts, and I have a feeling that Mother's Day and Father's Day will be the same. It just seems like, if you're celebrating a relationship, you should do something related to the relationship, you know what I mean?

During my fretting over how to make it the perfect day, Keith seemed surprised that I was so hung up on it. He informed me that we did do something for Father's Day last year—we went to the city pool. Once he said that, I vaguely remembered it. But I remember it as a quick trip, grudgingly shoved in between all of my other errands and tasks. And it was cold.

Whether my Father's Day shortcomings were real or only in my mind, I still wanted to do something fun this year. When I look back, I want to remember fun, family, relaxation, instead of stress and to-dos. Luckily, Keith came up with his own idea for Father's Day. I may not have been inspired with the event, but at least I'd put away the to-do list!

We took a Scenic Railroad Trip through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. We parked and rode a few stops, then got off in a small town. The railroad goes right along the Towpath bike/walking trail, so we had brought Eleanor's jogging stroller and started walking back along the path, towards the direction we'd come from. We figured it was a 2.5-mile walk to the next train station, and we had over an hour to do it in. Even on Eleanor's 20 minute/mile pace, which includes stopping every ten feet to hug trees (literally), sit in rocks, stomp in leaves, etc., we should still make it in time.

If you think I'm setting you up for some momentous event, I must apologize. It was just a really nice, relaxing day spent as a family. The weather was gorgeous and I know I took many deep breaths along the hike, savoring the moment. When we got to the train station we did have quite a bit of time to spare, so Keith ran into a small shop and bought us some drinks and black raspberry ice cream to share.

Even better, Eleanor had passed out in her stroller while he was in the store. I had sat on the front steps of the store, watching her succumb to sleep. Her one little fist was, as ever when she's tired, firmly grasping her hair. Her eyelids slowly fell and jerked up countless times over the few minutes, until the jerks become slower .... fewer .... further between .... and then none.

We walked to the train station and enjoyed our cold drinks and ice cream. When the train arrived, Eleanor woke up and was ecstatic to be riding the train again. At the end of the train ride, the only way Keith could convince her to go to the car was if they said good-bye to the train, and she patted its shining silver side.

I know it's not really about me, but I think Father's Day this year was much better. I'm not happy that I was ever at a point where I couldn't put aside my tasks for one day to appreciate what a wonderful father Keith is, every day. But I'm glad that I learned my lesson from last year and we focused on Keith and enjoying family time this year. I loved the train and the hiking, but I get the sense that, even if we had taken a cold, brief trip to the city pool, I still would have thought this Father's Day was infinitely superb to last year's, just because we took the time to enjoy it.

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