Monday, October 23, 2006

To my MIL: I owe you one

Thank God for grandparents.

Thanks to my MIL, HS and I just had a lovely weekend in Montreal. It was only our second full weekend when we both were away from him (in addition to one night this summer in Toronto), so I didn't feel guilty at all.

In fact, I missed him.

I know, I know, it's such a cliche. But I also think it's a good thing. I don't think I'm depressed anymore. Because I can remember, in that was-that-really-me? way, when Charlie was a year old and we would meet HS for dinner after work. We would have two cars, and I would beg HS to drive my car so I could have a few minutes to myself on the ride home. I was so desperate, I couldn't even stand to have Charlie in the back seat.

And so there I was on Friday, wandering around St. Laurent street, trying on clothes without having to wrangle or bribe an-almost-three-year old, and soaking in a tub, reading a book in a gorgeous hotel room, and I was a bit lonely. (HS was working out of the Montreal office that day.) I missed Charlie and his non-stop commentary. I spotted a park and a crepe restaurant he would like. I had the whole day to myself, and what I ended up wanting was to share it with Charlie. I'm a bit sad that this change took almost two years. And I hate that I felt so awful for the whole first year of Charlie's life. I wonder what motherhood would have been like without PPD. I envy my friends with babies who just feel tired and not suicidal. What is it like to parent a baby without constant, bone-crushing anxiety? I honestly don't know.

But I meant this post to be about Montreal, so let's get back to that, shall we?

After I dumped HS at work and the car at our hotel , and despite missing Charlie, I managed to pick up a few things for myself along St. Laurent. My favourite store is Lola & Emily, where I found the most perfect coat, just not in my size. If anyone knows where I can find a Ben Sherman funnel neck coat in medium, please let me know.

Since it was rainy and cold, I checked into our hotel early for a serious soak in the amazingly clean tub (with Fresh beauty products! Awesome!) and a nap. Ahhhhhh. HS met up with me at the hotel, and we went for dinner here, which, despite the groaner of a name, was totally delicious (we both love our fondue). I really wanted the classic chocolate fondue for dessert, but HS persuaded me to try the maple. If you go, you must too. How can you go wrong with warm maple syrup and cream with fruit to dip? You can't. But make reservations though. It was packed!

Saturday dawned grey and drizzly, but we didn't care. We slept in! Sort of. I had a hideous false dawn that only happens after I imbibe half a bottle of wine. You know the ones, you feel all perky and fresh at 5:30 a.m., but you can sense a massive headache just around the corner. I tried, somewhat successfully, to sleep it off, and after a couple of extra-strength Advils, I felt a little better. After breakfast (a lovely continental buffet at the hotel), we headed over to Old Montreal for a stroll. We visited Notre Dame and lit a few candles (something I haven't done since my European backpacking trip of, gulp, 1995 when I visited a lot of churches). Then we bought some cute baby gifts here, and learned something new at Notre-Dame-de-Bonsecours Chapel, The Sailors' Church, which was my favourite part. It was founded by a French woman who believed in educating women and helping the poor, crossed the Atlantic seven times, and died when she was 80! All in the 1600s!

All that history made us hungry, so we grabbed a cab back to St. Laurent for a little smoked meat at a Montreal institution. Yes, we ate here. A carnivore's heaven. And if you go, the lineup really isn't as bad as it looks, and yes, you will have to sit with strangers, so this is not the time for intimate conversations. Get the smoked meat (medium, please, lean is too dry and full-fat is only for the hardcore), fries and a pickle. Awesome. After lunch we rolled back to the hotel for a nap (sweet, sweet, sleep) before heading out yet again to fill our bellies. This time it was L'Express, another Montreal tradition. I wish I could say I enjoyed it, but no. Our food was yummy (and authentic French bistro style), but our waiter was crap. I don't know how it is possible to feel completely ignored and insignificant as well as rushed, but there you go. Next time we'll try Meat Market, but you really need to make restaurant reservations in this town.

After another night of divine sleep (and, ahem, other activities), we decided to hightail it to Beauty's for brunch. Now there, the lineup is as bad as it looks, but once again, well worth the wait. We squeezed into a booth for fresh OJ and the Beauty's special (bagel with lox, cream cheese, tomato, and onion). And feeling quite rested, rejuvenated, and well-fed, we headed back home.

So thanks MIL. You're a marriage saver!

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