For the past two days I’ve been treating my boys to separate date days. I’d like to say it’s something I had planned out and identified as something I should do, but that’s not really how it happened. The beginning of this week wasn’t great for any of us. Seth and I have been dealing with some typical life stuff, Abbott has really been testing our patience while Matty has been testing our resolve and by the time Wednesday rolled around I was already over the entire week. I needed a reset so I played with the idea of surprising the boys and taking them to the zoo rather than taking them to school but I couldn’t fully commit until we were on our way to school when I decided to just say “fuck it” and take them. But then I realized I didn’t have the diaper bag with me and nothing I’d really need to take them both but I did have the necessities if I wanted to just take Matty. And so I did. Matty and I dropped Abbott off at school and I asked Matty what we should do with our date day. His first idea was to go to the store. I told him to dream bigger and he was super confused. I asked if we should go to the zoo and his eyes widened in my favorite way as he whispered, “yeah? can we?”.

When we got there I realized this would be Matty’s first time to the zoo on his own since Abbott was born and as the day went on it became extremely evident just how much he’d grown since then. Not being burdened by a giant double stroller, we were able to go into areas of the exhibits we hadn’t been to in forever and ride rides we’ve never been on. We walked through secret passages, carved our way through crowds with ease and carried on the the most hilarious and enlightening conversations without any interruption. But the best part was getting to know and see the almost-three-year old Matty interact with the world on his own, without his brother there to alter the situation or steal my attention. I picked up on the remarks he made under his breath and enjoyed the silence we shared while he stared in amazement at fish and rhinos and monkeys and alligators.

Yesterday, I went back to the zoo with Abbott and it was his very first trip to the zoo on his own EVER. To be honest, I wasn’t really looking forward to the trip and not because I had just been there the day before but because there was something about taking Abbott that seemed like it would be boring and just too much. Our trip was one million percent different than my trip with Matty. In a weird way Abbott seemed very lost without Matty, it was sort of like he didn’t know what to pay attention to or how to interact with things on his own. Rather than exploring the exhibits he just sort of wandered around and never got too excited about anything. About half-way through the morning I realized this was exactly why I worried our trip together would be boring, Abbott’s existence so far has been very much defined by his relationship with Matty and who they are as a unit. Matty sort of just makes his world go round and family life without him around just isn’t as much fun because it’s all he knows. He takes his social queues from Matty and looks to Matty to entertain him. We ended up having a good time but it was extremely evident that Seth and I both needed to do more of this, especially with Abbott.

While exhausting, our one-on-one time was totally worth it. The biggest take away from the two days is something I already knew but have a hard time taking into consideration: they’re different boys, with different interests and different personalities. So next time I’ll plan two different activities catered to who they are. Abbott’s will probably be, like, MMA boxing or a pick up basketball game and Matty’s will probably be a dinosaur bone dig. KIDDING OF COURSE.

Have a great long weekend. Enjoy those babies and that sunshine and be sure take a minute to remember all of those who made it possible.