We try to date as much as possible. This is for several reasons. They are, in no particular order:
- I like my husband and want him to continue to like me,
- to strengthen our relationship,
- incentive to go to my weigh-in,
- adult conversation- outside of discussing what the appropriate consequence is for the offending child of the moment,
- our church leaders recommend it,
- my sanity,
- it's the only foreplay I have time for (-sorry, Jay, if you still come read this-),
- we didn't really date before we got married and we're trying to make up for lost time
Let me briefly touch on a few of these.
I Like My Husband and Want Him to Continue to Like Me
Husband is wonderful. He is supportive, patient, a good listener, and he helps around the house. He lets me warm various parts of my ice-cold body on him in the night, even if he has been sound asleep and toasty for hours before I come to bed. He sticks up for me and appreciates how much (or sometimes how little) I do to keep our lives running. He protects me from sickness, bugs, bankruptcy, and things that go bump in the night. In return, I try not to greet him with a completely messy house, hot dogs for dinner, and a seething lack of patience due to the way I have already repeated every single thing I've said all afternoon about fifteen times. Clearly, I am getting the better end of the deal at this stage in our lives together. I need to date him just to get me out of my element; my "mom"-role, my frustration, and my sweatpants. Dating gives Husband a chance to see me with fresh make-up in good lighting, discussing something other than decorating Bubba's(6) Thanksgiving-turkey-art-project like Optimus Prime. Suddenly I get to be interesting and funny and beautiful. It does us both wonders.
It Strengthens Our Relationship/Adult Conversation
We have a rule when we date: no discussing the children. I will admit that this is much more difficult when we have a three-year-old; they are always doing some truly hilarious thing- but we try to stick to it. If you've been a parent for a while and can't remember the last time you went on a date, let me warn you: although the benefits from the "no discussing rule" are many, it is extremely difficult to do in the beginning. "Supermom" is a pretty all-consuming job and can easily take over if you do not carefully cultivate your secret identity. (It's a secret because small children will not believe you have a life outside of them, and teenagers will not believe you have a life at all.) The more effort I put into my alter ego*, the more we have to talk about over a plate of Italian food. It helps us stay friends. (*See The Refrigerator section for my current alter ego expansion project.)
We try to date our children as well. That is to say, we take them on individual parent dates so that they get some undivided attention from each of us. One of us will take a child out each month so that by the end of the year they have all gone on one date with Husband and one with me. The one-on-one time is nice, plus, it gives us the opportunity to take them somewhere we could not afford if we had the whole family along, for example- the full-price show at the movie theater complete with the works at the consession stand. I bring up the kid dates because I found out this weekend just how high-maintenance a date I am. Granted, there are reasons stated above for me to milk it a little, but nonetheless- I think maybe I should be a little less picky about what constitutes a date. I came to this conclusion after Mr. Yuke's(3) Daddy-date.
Mr Yuke(3) started out just like me, making all sorts of crazy demands about where they were going to go and what they would do when they got there. He chose going to "cowboy town" (Tombstone, Arizona) to buy a cowboy hat and ride a stagecoach and drink sasparilla and watch a gunfight and get some ice cream and then maybe buy some handcuffs and a sherriff's badge. This would be followed by a light lunch of four bread baskets and the mimi mouse pancake platter at Mimi's Cafe. They would then return home and watch a movie of Mr. Yuke's(3) choosing for the rest of the day (or until Mr. Yuke could think of something else to demand instead). Now, when he began listing off the itinerary, Husband and I both immediately became a little high-strung. See, going to "cowboy town" is somewhat problematic, seeing as how it's two states away and that means he of course can't go there and so one of us is going to have to break it to him gently and hold our breath the entire rest of the day because, as cute as he is- the boy CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH. And when he decides he is upset by anything in the world that has not gone his way, he will shriek his high-pitched noise at you until your eyeballs explode, as a punishment. And that makes it a little difficult to drive him to a "plan-B" destination. I was not feeling up to dealing with the "cowboy town" aftermath, so I steered clear of Mr. Yuke(3) the rest of the morning, rationalizing that this was Husband's date and therefore not my problem. I did feel a little sorry for him. Just not enough to get in the line of fire. I watched them leave, wondering what would happen when Husband broke the news to him? What would Husband try to do to make Mr. Yuke(3) happy? and how was he going to drive with exploded eyeballs?. Imagine my surprise when they returned not much later, Mr. Yuke beaming, full of pancakes and a spring in his step. I looked quizzically at Husband, the questions burning in my eyes- "WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH OUR SON? AND WHO IS THIS KID? AND DO WE GET TO KEEP HIM?" Mr. Yuke chattered happily away at me as I stared in amazement, racking my brain trying to figure out if Husband maybe could have taken him to some other crappy tourist-trap western town that is close-by but had somehow slipped my mind before? And then I got my answer-
Mr. Yuke(3): Come on, Dad! Let's finish our date! Remember? The part WHEN WE EAT COOKIES!!!
(said in a way that could have meant- We're going to meet Santa Claus! in Disneyland. and he's going to give us money.)
Ah hah! A classic dad manuever. Bribery. With sugar. lots of sugar.
SIGH. This is one of those things in life that is not fair. Because there is some unwritten law that says moms cannot shamelessly throw half a dozen chocolate chip cookies at a child in order to prevent the eyeball explosion tantrum, yet from dads, this is totally acceptable behavior. Oh well. I experienced a satisfied state of happiness over the facts that:
- Mr. Yuke(3) had a marvelous time with his dad,
- Husband had an enjoyable time with his son,
- all of us had a great time not hearing the shrieking,
- and EVERYONE loves my chocolate chip cookies. They are divine.