Far too often we tend to forget about ourselves and our own relationships when we’re so focused on being parents. The most important of those relationships is the one for which you took vows. Most everyone who has a child will agree that it’s hard to find any time for yourselves, but that doesn’t take away from the importance of spending time together so you can be that couple again.
Being a Father is my greatest accomplishment, without a doubt. My Son is the best thing that ever happened to me. But, without my wife, he wouldn’t be here. Julie and I were together for seven years before she got pregnant. Over those seven years, we built the relationship that we have now. (How she could put up with me for seven HOURS, let alone years, still escapes me). Now, maintaining that relationship becomes the hard part.
Two years ago, our weekend conversation would have gone like this:
Julie: “I’m bored”
Me: “Me too. What do you want to do?”
Julie: “I don’t know. What do YOU want to do?”
Me: “I don’t know. Want to go see a movie?”
Julie: “And then what? I don’t want to just go see a movie and then come back home.”
Me: “We could go out to eat first.”
Julie: “You don’t go to eat for fun when you’re bored.”
Me: “I do.”
Julie: “Well, that’s you. Not everybody treats eating like it’s a competition.”
Me: “Smartass! I don’t hear any ideas from you!”
Julie: “Because there isn’t anything to do.”
Me: “So, what do you want to do then?”
Julie: “I don’t know.”
This back and forth banter would continue until we finally would settle on going to dinner, or a movie, or both. Or driving around. Or nothing at all. The point is, we took for granted all of the free time that we had.
Today, our conversation would go like this:
Me: “We have about 16 hours of free time, six of which are consumed by sleep, two of which are consumed by straightening up the house, and a half hour that is consumed by getting ready to go. We have exactly seven and a half hours of free time. What do you want to do?”
Julie: “Anything. I don’t care, as long as we get to spend time together.”
Me: “Ok, let’s go out to eat and then go play miniature golf. Then we can get some ice cream, too!”
Julie: “You and your food…”
Me: “What? I’m hungry!”
Julie: “What else is new?”
Me: “I have an idea! Let’s go sign divorce papers!”
Then I get the death stare…
But, it always seems as though when we go out together, somehow the conversation steers back to “I wonder what he’s doing right now…” Try as you might, you can never “forget” that you are a parent. Still, being able to step away and take a break is always a welcomed change of pace to our everyday life. Suddenly, something as simple as seeing a movie, going to dinner, or playing a round of miniature golf that at one point would have been boring in our book, feels like a week in the Bahamas (or, for us, a week in an igloo in the Arctic Circle because we both hate the heat!). Even sitting at home watching a movie with a bowl of popcorn, or driving around aimlessly, doesn’t seem so mundane anymore.
As hard as it is to step away, any time the opportunity arises for us to take a break, we try to make the most of it. As few and far between as they are, it allows us to feel like a couple again and continue to maintain our relationship, which is just as important for Mason as it is for us. Someone once stressed to me the importance of maintaining the bond you have outside of your children because the bond you have with your children will always be there. Eventually, children grow up and move on. But, afterwards, if you don’t have the same bond you had before your children, then what else is there?