“See you on the other side.”
My husband and I all but said this to each other after we had two babies in less than 20 months.
We had double the diapers and two basically non-verbal children, not to mention, we both started new careers within six weeks after my second child’s birth so every waking moment was dedicated to the kids or our jobs. Oh yeah, I was nursing both of them too. My oldest having missed out on breast milk for my entire pregnancy, was making up for lost time by nursing sometimes ten times a day in addition to our newborn.
I don’t think I talked to my husband for three months after our second child was born. We passed in the hallway and after both babies were asleep, we would sit on the couch next to each other, doing our own mind numbing activities. He played video games, I drank wine. We were so in survival mode, that it began to feel normal. Hours of video games, bottles of wine. We coordinated our family photo shoots and my next work conference, but not much else. There were definitely circumstances that led to our lack of connection, but they were normal circumstances, circumstances that should not have put the kind of strain on our relationship that they did.
After about a year and a half of this routine, my husband and I realized that we needed to prioritize our relationship once more. In the beginning, we had a series of “emergency date nights” where I’d call my mom on the edge of my sanity and ask her to watch the kids for a few hours in shear desperation. Sometimes we would spend the whole date driving around talking but soon the emergency dates turned into weekly four hour stretches that were set aside for us to connect. They became routine, our effort to prioritize “us”.
For the last three years, with a few exceptions, my husband and I have a scheduled date two to four weekends per month depending on the availability of our babysitters. Since these dates are so routine now, they don’t have to be super structured or exciting. Often, with the work we bring home from our respective jobs, we have a coffee date to catch-up on work with dinner afterwards. Our favorite combination for these dates is Gelateria Del Leone and Pho Grand on South Grand. We’ve gone to the driving range in the past to hit golf balls, and throwing darts at Blueberry Hill is another thing we’ve done frequently. Sometimes we see a movie and sometimes we have friends over to play games. Now that we have a baby again, she comes on many of our dates and plays on the floor of the cafe while we work. Regardless of what we do, the important thing is that we are and have been setting aside a time each month for each other. With three kids, this requires planning and funding, but its a priority in our relationship, and therefore our budget.
Date night has allowed my husband and me to refresh and connect as we do so much life together. Our relationship came before our children, and for their sake and our own, we need to continue to save room in this busy life for each other.