Today, I took one for the team. I stayed home on Mardi Gras.
If you don’t already know this, today is Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras Day, the culmination of our weeks-long celebration leading up to the somber season of Lent here in Catholic New Orleans.
If you’ve never been to Mardi Gras or to New Orleans, you should definitely put it on your bucket list. I know there are other Mardi Gras and Carnival celebrations around the world, but ours is unique for many reasons. But I digress…
This story is about my family.
My family loves Mardi Gras. But we love it in different ways.
My idea of a great Mardi Gras is having a base camp at the beginning of the route with chairs and ladders and food and potty passes somewhere. My preferred location is on Napoleon Avenue, at the beginning of the parade route, nestled under a lacy canopy of live oaks, with actual grass beneath my feet. Because it the beginning of the route, you have to arrive early, while most of the city is still pondering their second cup of coffee. Or second Bloody Mary.
For Slick and The Trailblazer, a great Mardi Gras experience means being further up St. Charles Avenue, where throngs of high school and college students flock. (Mardi Gras is the new Spring Break.) The scene up there is a bit intense for me, and the thick crowds give me the heebie-jeebies, so I prefer to leave them with their own kind while I stay with mine.
For Mr. Wonderful, being in the thick of the action, not tied down to chairs and a home base, drifting with the crowd chasing an elusive Zulu coconut and eating from street vendors is Utopia. Before we had children, we schlepped through the French Quarter, caught the drag queen costume contest, roamed through the city in search of fun. It was never my thing, but he loved it so much I went along with it. Don’t get me wrong, I had a good time, but I’m definitely a fair-weather fan of this season.
Once the kids came, we settled down a bit, hunkering in a hotel on St. Charles Avenue for the long weekend, partying til someone dropped. The kids slept on the floor of the old mansion-turned-hotel and ate pub food for days.
But as they got older, the family became divided. The teenagers tired of hanging with mom and dad for days on end. After three kids my bladder could no longer go all day with limited potty stops. But Mr. Wonderful’s lust for the party never ceased.
The kids and I were holding him back.
Then last week, Mr. Wonderful and I found ourselves downtown on a parade night with only The Caboose in tow. As we approached the parade route, the boy ran ahead to get there first. Mr. Wonderful glanced back at me, looking for permission to follow. I nodded my consent and he took off after the little dude. I caught up a few minutes later to hear them shouting and having fun, with an armload of beads and a giant stuffed fish. Two peas in their Mardi Gras pod.
So Sunday, when Mr. Wonderful commented about last year’s Mardi Gras Day rain out, and how upset he was when the rain clouds passed and he saw the TV broadcast of the people on the streets reveling without him, I knew I had to throw him a bone. I convinced The Caboose that he and dad would have a great time on the man-prowl. No one to tether them to a bathroom, no one to make them stay put in mom’s happy place. They could travel light, work their through the crowd, go where the wind would take them.
I sent them off without me, so they could have their kind of fun.
My theory was validated at 9:25 this morning, when the first photo came via dad’s Blackberry of a smiling boy.
Shortly after that came another photo of The Caboose holding his Zulu coconut. More followed, all chronicling the day exactly as I hoped it would go. Father and son, having fun together, making special memories at on Carnival Day.
I’m sure (OK, I hope) when they return home this afternoon, they’ll both say I should have come. But the truth is it couldn’t be both ways. Their kind of fun is different from my kind. And today I wanted them to have their kind.
Next year I’ll probably go with them, and we’ll figure out a compromise that covers us all.
But I’m certain that someday I’ll hear them telling stories about this day – the year they went out by themselves – and the adventures they had. And I’ll smile.
Next year I’ll come and hang with you!! xoxoxoxoxo
How sweet ❤
Oh, you did a good thing! Sometimes we do just have to let the boys run. I’m just like you when it comes to the crowds and too much hoopla these days (although I’ve never been to NOLA or Mardi Gras-Los Angeles is as crazy as I get, and it’s enough). Loved the pictures, and thanks for sharing with us! 🙂
I’d be hiding out with you and Renee writing a short story about the good people of N.O.!
Ohh. A threesome. 😀
I miss Bacchus. And I used to love to plant myself on St. Charles between 7th and 8th. But now, I’d be with you.
Like, literally with you.
We could sit across from each other on our laptops, tapping out our love of Mardi Gras while our families went and did it. 😉
I just needed a few beads to remember.
I love Bacchus. Sunday is the day I like the most. The crowd is nice, the grass isn’t too trampled, and when the weather gods smile, all’s right in the Universe! I’ll fluff up the pillows for you next year, now that you know I’m not an ax murderer. ;-D
I told my husband that I want to experience a New Orleans parade or two next year cause, believe it or not, after living in Louisiana for over 20 years, I have NEVER experienced New Orleans Mardi Gras!!! I think you should be the one to show me how it is done next year!! 🙂
Now that would be awesome! You know where to find me!
I will definitely see if you are still up for this next year when the time comes. What hotel should I book and when??
We’ll have to chat… then I’ll give you some guidance! Next year is probably not a great idea. The Super Bowl is going to be in NOLA 9 days before Mardi Gras. I don’t know if I even want to be here.
Such a good mama and wife! It looks like such fun and I hope they are telling stories about this in years to come!