October 25, 2012
October 25, 2012
By: Jennifer Chasse
“It’s so nice not to be interrupted,” Joe said as he enjoyed his third cup of coffee over breakfast.
We were basking in the infrequent indulgence of leisure time as we sat in the sun on the hotel patio. In well under 24 hours we had been transported to a different place, both literally and mentally. We were enjoying a night without kids less than an hour from home, yet we felt a million miles away. Our mini-vacation had left us both relaxed and refreshed, and we headed home after breakfast looking forward to seeing the kids.
I’m a firm believer in getting away from my kids regularly.
It’s not that I don’t enjoy being with them; I do. It’s just that time away from my kids makes me so much better at time with my kids. Whether I plan a date with Joe or sneak out alone to catch a movie, I find I return home relaxed and more patient with my family.
When the baby was about eight months, we left him with grandparents for two nights. We had been apart from him before but this was our first overnight apart. I was nursing, and we laughed as we drove over the gorgeous Florida Keys in a convertible, me with my breast pump doing its thing. Although we missed the boy plenty, we had a wonderful time and returned all lovey-dovey and amazed what a full night’s sleep could do for a new parent.
The thing is, we were a couple before we were a family. Putting extra energy into just the two of us, our interests and our relationship, goes very far to keep the entire household running better. It’s like an oil change for the family. A little preventative maintenance increases performance and prevents problems.
It might mean arranging a sitter to enjoy a round of golf or dinner out, or it may mean sending the kids to their rooms early while we enjoy a movie downstairs, but dating is good for us. Sometimes we plan it, and sometimes we see an opportunity and grab it, but it always seems to be just what the doctor ordered.
Some parents seem to consider this as selfish or even harmful for the kids, which baffles me.
I remember being at a party once where the topic of babysitters came up, and one guest proudly proclaimed she had NEVER left her kids with a sitter, as if it were a badge of honor. I tried to keep a straight face as I asked her how old her children were. The oldest was 10.
“Have you been away for a few days with the girls while your husband stayed with the kids?” I asked, and she looked at me as if I asked her if she liked to eat babies. I didn’t dare tell her about my pretty-much-annual ladies’ weekend pilgrimage. You know, those glorious 48 hours where a group of women recharge and head home 110% delighted to see our families? (Full disclosure: there is also an equally terrific guys’ weekend).
It’s not always easy to put yourself first (or at least near the very top of the list) when you have others depending on you. It takes a great deal of courage plus the logistical planning with childcare and work responsibilities.
Some of us are blessed with great extended family. Currently I’m blessed with great neighbors and a couple of competent, loving babysitters.
Making time for the oil change of dating teaches our children that the world does not revolve around them, and that Mom and Dad come first.
The investment in our marriage is significant. Just as time without my children allows me to appreciate them more, time with my husband allows me to appreciate him more.
After 15 years, he is still interesting and witty, and dating allows me to enjoy rediscovering why I fell in love with him in the first place. When we are not trying to juggle the daily grind and can concentrate on one another, we both become a bit more loving, tolerant and even attractive.
I aspire to be one of those older couples who are laughing, arguing and holding hands long after the kids have moved out and started families of their own. And I hope our children leave us the grandchildren while they are off enjoying a family oil change of their own.
Have your say
© 2013 Macaroni Kid, LLC