We just recently went out on our first date night since the birth of baby girl numero dos. Unlike our first date after the birth of our first, this date was full of total escape and freedom. Two blissful hours of empty-headed nothingness. One hundred and twenty minutes of absolute peace...but who's counting?
Don't get me wrong, I love my girls with my entire being. Totally and absolutely. But (you knew that "but" was coming didn't you?) well, the truth is, they wouldn't even exist if I didn't take the time, effort, or joy in putting something else before them: marriage.
Back in our "single days", every night was a date night. Okay, maybe there weren't candlelit dinners and strolls on the beach every night, but genuinely, each night was spent basking in the presence of each other with limitless time to do whatever we might like to do. Even if that time was spent watching five seasons of 24 in the span of three weeks (true story), it was a seemingly neverending date night that we reveled in with sincerity. We thoroughly enjoyed our single days - crossing items off the "things to do before kids" list such as traveling to Paris (ahh, the memories) or sleeping on the street and waking up to the New Year's Rose Parade in Pasadena (not for the faint of heart).
But, even while we were in the midst of these neverending dates, we would occasionally stop, look at each other, and say something like "you know...this is going to mean a whole lot more when we have to actually plan ahead, get a sitter, and really need an escape to be with one another." It was true. Even then we knew that we had it good. Too good.
And so now, here we are. And BOY do we have a new appreciation for date nights!
After Matilda was born, it was definitely difficult to entrust my firstborn to the care of someone else. It took a while before I could not only leave the house physically, but mentally, and truly take advantage of time out with my husband. Now that we've warmed up a bit, seen our friends and family take a good beating and still stick around, and can now plan ahead enough to make our time worthwhile...date nights have become a treasured (though still infrequent) affair at our home.
It is definitely a challenge to get out and be alone. It costs money, it takes time, it usually inconveniences someone else...it is a beautiful thing! When we went out for this initial date post-Daphne, it was really the first time that it sunk in how unique and precious date night has become. It is completely exclusive time with the man I love. In a way it's like every day life is a long-distance relationship and the date night is a sweet, overdue reunion. It's not like we're two ships passing in the night. I mean, we actually like each other too much to not want to take time to talk and listen to each other every night. We just had a "date-night-in" where we ordered pizza and finally caught up on Modern Family episodes while our girls were both asleep (for the time being). But certainly, nothing beats a moment of pure escape, away from home, to genuinely reconnect with your partner.
I knew having children would bring a lot of new things into our little world. It's funny how, as our family expands, it somehow narrows my focus and priorities. It's not always easy to put my husband before myself (oh you wanted that last cookie?), and it is sometimes impossible to put him before the kids (what was that, honey? I couldn't hear you over the sound of the screaming toddler climbing up my back and the baby spitting up all over me)...but it is always worthwhile.
I don't know when the next date night will be, or what we will do (we always joke with our babysitters that we're actually just in the parking lot sleeping in the car - which doesn't sound half bad in my exhausted opinion) but I'm already looking forward to it. Not only does it bring new appreciation for my spouse, but it also gives me a chance to miss my girls and love coming home to them as well. Everybody wins!
*I particularly love the photo in this post. I think it depicts the family priorities well - with our girls looking outward, independently, and our union at the center. It makes me smile.