I don’t blog about my husband much, mainly because he’s a really private person and would be the last person in the universe to start a personal blog or to start following others’ blogs. But this past weekend I dated my husband of six years, thanks to his thoughtful planning (so he deserves at least a little shout out). We held hands. We ate at restaurants with white tablecloths and wine lists (not that my preggo self sipped on any vino). We laughed. We flirted. We talked about adult things like politics, Dave’s career plans, where we might plant our roots once residency is behind us, and movies that don’t involve talking animals. Then we started talking about our kids (again). We sat in comfortable silence (we’re dating veterans), and then we’d talk some more (usually about our kids).
See, my wonderful husband surprised me this past weekend with a beach trip sans the kids (a definite perk of living in the South is that we’re only about six hours away from sandy Florida beaches). This was our first couples get away in a really long time, and it did wonders for my pregnancy fatigue (no 3 AM wake up calls from Rae or midnight nightmare soothing routines for Madeline!). The trip also did wonders for my marriage.
I’m a big advocate of dating your husband. It’s doesn’t have to be a fancy beach trip or even an outing that requires a babysitter. Dave’s work schedule, our current budget, and the ages of our kiddos keep us from frequently painting the town red (we’re just too busy reading about Harold coloring his town with a purple crayon). However, we always try to carve out at least one night a week where we just talk or spend time together alone. Sometimes we watch a movie. Recently, we’ve started doing yoga together. We’re both ridiculously inflexible and have to keep ourselves from convulsing with laughter when the host twists into a human pretzel and we can barely touch our toes. Not very mindful of us, I suppose, but we have fun together. We always have fun together. Just because you have kids doesn’t mean you should ever stop having fun or dating one another.
And an occasional trip to the beach is very nice, too.
Over the weekend, we napped. I took long beach walks. We spent languid afternoons on the beach sitting side by side, hearing the waves crash into shore and occasionally looking up from the pages of our books to gaze out at the blue water or to watch a crab scuttle across the sand. (Speaking of books, I read three of them. Heaven!) We dined at nice restaurants, including a tapas bar (we used to frequent a tapas bar in our before children days) where we sampled hummus, olive tapenade, chunks of salty feta, chicken satay, shrimp tempura, homemade potato chips dipped in a creamy onion concoction, and baked brie. We talked about our girls (a lot) and how much we missed them, how much Madeline would enjoy chasing all the crabs on the beach and how Rae would love to dig her chubby hands into the sand. We chatted about our next baby and how we have absolutely no ideas for names for boys or girls. We pondered whether we should find out the sex (still undecided). We savored our alone time while at the same time being grateful we had two little girls to come home to.
Sometimes parents are afraid to spend time together alone. They feel like all their free time should be devoted to their kids’ lives. Or, they feel guilty not including their kids in fun activities (or beach trips).Our poor, neglected kids! I admit I was worried about my 17-month-old (she’s never been away from me for more than a few hours), but she was a trouper, and both girls had a blast with their Nana and Pop (thanks babysitters of the year!). It was like vacation for them, too, with lots of visits to the playground and ice cream cones. (I will warn all the grandparents out there that what happens at the grandparents’ doesn’t always stay at the grandparents. Case in point: Madeline told me that she ate “a little bit of junk food” and that she shouldn’t watch TV much this week because she got to watch “a bunch with Pop.”)
Dave and I also felt just a little guilty when Madeline gave us a picture of the whole family (her emphasis, not mine) at the beach holding hands before we left.
“Bring it with you,” she said.
And we did, and looking at it made me feel like I was on a guilt trip, not a short, romantic beach vacation. But not for long. I knew this couples only trip was good for my marriage and for my kids.
My mom offered me sage advice long ago. She told me to always put my relationship with Dave first and to never stop dating him. She was right on. The bottom line is: The best gift we can give our kids is a happy, healthy marriage.
So why not plan a date with your spouse in the next week or so? Hold hands. Flirt. Drink a glass of wine (for me!). Laugh together and try not to talk about the kids as much as Dave and I do during our hot dates.