Growth of any type tends to require an adjustment period, and the expansion of a family is no exception. My husband and I were more than ready for our daughter’s birth last year, and we knew there would be ups and downs, new experiences and some big lifestyle changes. Altering our schedules and rearranging our priorities to make our daughter’s care our primary focus hasn’t been too difficult — and, truthfully, we’ve enjoyed just about every minute of parenthood so far — but there certainly are things I miss, such as sleep and, especially, time to enjoy my husband’s company.
Since our sweet girl arrived nine months ago, my husband, Noell, and I have had one night out. In September, when my mother came from Missouri to visit us, she watched the baby while Noell and I headed out on a “date.” We chatted, laughed and reconnected. I was amazed to be reminded of how much I actually like my husband.
That may sound silly, but when things get hectic — work beckons, the house is in disarray, the baby is past her feeding time, the dog needs to go out and the bills need to be paid — it’s easy for parents to overlook or take for granted the characteristics and qualities that first attracted them to one another. Now, nearly five months after our first and only “date night,” it’s slowly dawning on me that my husband and I might need more periodic opportunities to reconnect and unwind. Too bad that’s much easier said than done.
We actually had planned a dinner-and-a-movie excursion this weekend, and were looking forward to it very much. We made a list of the movies we wanted to see, and when we saw the theater websites hadn’t yet posted Saturday’s movie times, we actually drove to the two theaters near our house to see if, perhaps, they’d already listed the show times on their marquees. They had not, so we decided to just keep checking the websites. We debated the merits and menus of various local restaurants before finally settling on a pizzeria that recently opened in our neighborhood. We questioned whether we should buy popcorn at the theater concession stand, but decided we’d probably be too full from dinner. We pretty much mapped out all the details of our evening.
In the end, though, the 7-11 p.m. time slot in which my husband’s work schedule allowed us to go on our “date” did not jive with the time slot our babysitter had in mind, so we had to call off the whole thing a few days before the eagerly anticipated event. Obviously, I had been excited about our night out, but I didn’t even realize just how much I’d been looking forward to it until I learned it wasn’t going to happen. I struggled to keep the sadness out of my voice when I broke the news to my husband.
It was then that it occurred to me just how important it is for parents to regularly set aside a few hours to recharge and have fun. Without those occasional outings, it’s simply too easy for spouses to lose sight of one another and allow the daily grind to take a serious toll on their marriage.
If one canceled “date night” struck such deep chords of disappointment in me, perhaps the solution is to schedule such nights more often so that if one outing does fall through, it doesn’t feel like such a big deal. And while a night out on the town certainly does sound wonderful, I suppose these bonding sessions don’t have to be such carefully orchestrated ordeals. A simple walk around the block, an afternoon at the park or time spent together whipping up a new recipe for dinner could be just what the doctor ordered.
Barnidge is editor of the Courier.