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Honeymoons, Hurricanes and Hand, Foot and Mouth

Updated: Jan 3, 2018

NOVEMBER 30, 2017

Growing up I was never the girl that had her wedding planned. Many friends had visions of where it would be, what they would dance to, what they would wear, etc. I just could never really picture it. Or maybe I just felt like there would be too many decisions to make and felt overwhelmed by making it a perfect reflection of me and my future partner.

But the honeymoon. That was the thing I dreamed about. When traveling in my early 20s, I remember coming across a couple of newlyweds in Spain who were doing a 4-week European honeymoon. I thought to myself, yes, that’s what I want. Additionally, I fell in love with photos of the Greek Isles and decided that would have to be a part of my honeymoon. I made sure I never went there on my own in my travels, “saving” it for this special epic trip with my future husband. I thought about how I hoped that, when the time came, I would be working somewhere with a generous vacation policy. I reviewed my friends' honeymoons in my mind, taking note of what sounded fun to me and what didn’t appeal.

Years passed and I remained without honeymoon plans. I started considering going to Greece on my own. And I took many trips to acceptable honeymoon destinations with my girlfriends – Costa Rica, Brazil, Argentina, coastal Spain, southern France, safari and wine country in South Africa, beaches in Mexico, Iceland, champagne region of France, Italy, Monaco, Mallorca, and Paris. To name a few. (And to clarify that this is far from a sob story.)

As I've previously shared about how my story unfolded  here and here, I finally met Max when I was 37, we were 9,000 miles apart for most of the first year of “dating”, got engaged when I was 39, had our son at 40 and got married 4 months later. Decisions about wedding planning became easier because we were bringing a newborn and I was too overwhelmed by new motherhood to engage in my typical perfectionism behavior. So I was able to confirm relatively “big” wedding decisions without a lot of analysis.

Having a honeymoon right away felt like too much with Oliver so young. But we didn’t want to put it off forever and risk not enjoying one, so Max and I decided to do a little “mini-moon” in September. We picked Key West because it’s not too far away, Max loves it and I’ve never been (and I’m a big Hemingway fan, so I have romantic notions of the area that may or may not be reality). We booked Nana and Papa to come from Georgia to watch Ollie and selected a beautiful resort for 3 nights/4 days.

But life had other plans. It became the season of the hurricane and natural disasters. Harvey hit Texas hard, and Max drove out to volunteer with an amazing veteran disaster relief organization called Team Rubicon (check it out if you’re looking for a grassroots legit place to send your support). While he was there, our friend Irma came our way. Max had to leave his post in Texas early to come home and help us prepare for our own hurricane. For the second time in a year (last year Hurricane Matthew drove us out of our home while I was 8 months pregnant!) we walked through our home, deciding what we couldn’t live without. We left everything else behind along with prayers and crossed fingers and drove up to my parent’s house in Georgia to wait it out. (And we were lucky, once again, to return to a home that was undamaged.)  

The day we left for Georgia, however, Oliver got hand, foot and mouth virus. (Not the same as foot & mouth disease, I was confused too.) He caught it from the daughter of a friend we had seen a few days earlier. He was so feverish and unhappy it was sad to see- that kid barely goes a minute without a huge grin on his face. Then he had a few spots and was fussy for the next 10 days, but overall, not a huge deal.

But then it hit Max. And it hit him like a hurricane. The poor guy was laid up in bed for 2 days with fever, chills and skin “that hurt”. He was so pitiful (and like his son, the opposite from his typically non-stop signature smile.) The fever was soon replaced by the spots. At first just a few here and there on his hands and feet. And then they popped up everywhere. All over his body. In between fingers and toes, on his scalp, all over his face. He was miserable.

All of this just in time for our honeymoon. In Key West. Except Key West was closed for business. And, essentially, so was my husband.

In full disclosure, I’m a human being. So I did have a little moment of being bummed out, which I felt extremely guilty for, given all of the hardship and devastation Mother Nature had just sprung on so many familes. So, I realize it doesn’t get more first world of a problem than this. But there was a teeny tiny moment of disappointment. 

However, we decided that we didn’t want to totally cancel. We still wanted to get away. My parents had cleared their calendars and were planning to come help out. Why not still go somewhere? So, a couple of days before, we booked 2 nights at a resort in nearby Amelia Island, just an hour away from us.

We left at noon on a Monday and returned at noon on Wednesday. And the 48 hours in between were magical. We didn’t do any adventurous activities, like horseback riding on the beach or parasailing or fly fishing. We didn’t spend days pampering at the spa. But we had leisurely breakfasts lingering over coffee, read books by the pool, toasted with happy hour cocktails, ate really good dinners (and a few more cocktails) and we talked. In a way that was not about logistics or the plan for the day or what to bring in the diaper bag. But more like we did when we were dating. Dreaming about our future and Oliver’s future, sharing fears, what we want to do with our lives and what we think about what’s going on in the world.

Max and I are pretty connected on a daily basis, but this was a connection sponsored by consecutive hours of free time. It was replenishing, relaxing and happy. I felt like the luckiest girl in the world. And when it came time to check out on Wednesday, we were ready. And we couldn’t wait to get back to Ollie. We recognize that regular life is pretty damn good.

Back when I had been trying to decide what to do about the honeymoon, I was sharing my dilemma with my business coach. And she suggested I reframe my thoughts about it all and consider having a “lifetime of honeymoons” instead of putting all of the pressure on the one. I liked the concept and kept it in the back of my mind when we left for our little trip. And, while we were there, Max and I decided that we would aim to have a 2-night honeymoon every year for the rest of our lives. Maybe we would have times where we do other, longer getaways. But we would carve out a special 2-day trip every year. Where we indulge and connect- just us. I call it our "Manymoons".

My honeymoon was pretty far from the sweeping journey through Europe or the island hop through Greece that I envisioned years ago. And I am pretty sure we are one of few couples who could hardly go near each other on their honeymoon (thanks hand, foot & mouth). But my lifetime of honeymoons ahead with the best guy is even better than I could have planned for.

Back in our daily routines, we think fondly of our two days. But mostly, we look around us at the devastation all of the recent natural disasters have left behind and we feel grateful to have been spared, we seek opportunities to help out and we focus our attention on experiences over things. And Max is grateful his spots are gone.  

We tend to put so much pressure on expectations of "special" occasions - weddings, honeymoons, milestone birthdays, New Year's Eve. What if we try to let go a little bit and see what happens without all of the efforting and building up and looking for "perfect". What if we seek out the extraordinary in the ordinary? It seems there is more abundance there. 

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