“Remember when we went out to dinner every Wednesday and we vowed to try new places in the city each week” my husband asked me the other day on one of our “car dates” (in other words, we were driving and both kids were fast asleep in the backseat so we could actually have an uninterrupted conversation).
“That feels like forever ago.” I responded. “But the funny thing is, I am happy that we did that then and I am ok with where we are at now too,” I said happy that we had a chance to even share these sentiments.
The car ride was about 25 minutes long and we only really had 10 or 15 minutes of uninterrupted conversation, but we made the most of it and somehow this new kind of “dating”, as limited as it might seem at this stage, felt ok for us in that moment. In that moment, we were on the same page even though it has felt like we weren’t even in the same book at times.
Valentines Day is today and it also happens to be on a Wednesday, and well our plans do not include a fancy new restaurant in the city, but they do include (Scott stop reading this paragraph … you will spoil the “big surprise”) an unplanned two-person games night (if we both don’t fall asleep first) and hopefully our favourite meal if there’s enough time to make it.
Motherhood changes a million things about you as a person, but what I didn’t realize right away was how much our marriage would change. I wasn’t sure how much I would share about this, or how I would say it here (sometimes it feels funny to be so public about something that can feel so private) but I know now that there’s a connection that comes from sharing stories and brings about a sense of comfort in a world that can feel so chaotic. It makes me feel like I’m not alone to hear stories that are similar to my own, so why not share.
So that’s what I’m going to do, continue to share stories and stages of these shift and changes in a world that can sometimes feel closed off, a world that can seem perfect, but is more imperfect than anything. And while I’m doing all of this sharing; explain how there is beauty beyond the storm (those tough stages in motherhood) and that sometimes you need to get caught in the rain in order to relearn how to hold hands again and dance together in the rain.
Learning how to date your husband after children, as cliché and over used as that statement may sound, can be such a challenge as a new mother. With two little ones, now three and almost a-year-and-a-half, so much of my time is occupied by either work, “mommying” or household things and I know that my husband feels the same way. After our first was born, we realized very quickly that us time would only exist if we actually carved out a place for it in our daily lives. We also learned to be creative with “dates” and often have a good laugh about our “car dates” or the rare “grocery date.”
Time has a funny way of getting away from you, and most of these realizations only happened because we started to notice that even though we lived together, occupying the same physical space every day, we really weren’t seeing or talking to one another. Let’s be real here for a second, parenting is a 24-7 gig and there were times after our second was born that we went a few days without talking about anything other than the kids or only giving each other a passing glance in our tiny hallway as one of us put the youngest baby to bed and the other put the oldest to bed. And there are still so many days like this and I know that there will be many more challenging stages like these to come. So, figuring out this whole “how do we still be us?” thing while “doing all of this parenting stuff” is something that we won’t ever stop asking ourselves, because the changes and challenges will keep coming with every new stage. I think even though there is no such thing as finding “perfection” in any of this, what I am grateful for is that we’ve realized that there are challenges and that making time for us is such a real thing even if it’s only a “car date.”
We’ve been very blessed over the past three years to have supportive families that give us the opportunity to go on “date nights” or even take mini vacations “sans children”. I’m not sure if this is true for everyone, but we always laugh about how quickly we remember our “pre-kids-selves” during those times where our focus is actually on each other and it can be about “just us” for a little while. But we’ve also started to see how we can still be “us” in a new way on a regular Wednesday evening. We’ve realized that it’s going to take effort and that our valentines date might not take place in a brand new trendy restaurant in the city, but it might be us trying to stay awake after the kids go to sleep to enjoy left over dessert together and that’s ok.
I don’t really have anything conclusive or mind-blowing to say or share about the revelations that came out of these challenging stages, mainly because I know that this is just the beginning of a new series of stages in parenting, motherhood and marriage, but I am so grateful that we’ve recognized and been able to see these challenges and hope that we can keep finding new was to date each other, whatever that might look like, in the years to come.
What are some of your favourite staying-in date night ideas?