Friday, September 17, 2010

Cars that pass in the night

As the kids and I were pulling into the driveway tonight, the seminarian was pulling out.  We waved and blew kisses out the car windows.  Have a good night!

The kids had been at either the gym or a robotics club meeting, depending on the child, and the seminarian was leaving for a meeting at church.  Earlier, after I had dropped the kids off at their activities, I had dashed home to put together some dinner for the dad before I went back out to pick them up. Somewhere in that time he came home so we were in the house together for about 15 minutes.  But then I had to leave so he ate alone.  Well, the dog was here.  And I'm sure he had a book to read.  The man, not the dog.

Sometimes life is like that.  We are busy and running in different directions sometimes.  We are tired.  We are overworked.  There's always something that needs to be done so there's very little down time.

I don't talk about these times much, because if I do, someone is always ready to to tell me we need a "date night."  In fact, I have been rebuked by caring women who think I am wrong not to make date night a priority. The thinking is, when a couple is so busy they don't have time to spend together, they need to leave behind the house, kids, and responsibilities and go out together for some fun.  I get that.  I think date nights are good and I think couples should have them.  But it's not going to happen right now in our house.  There's too much happening, too much to do.

Too much to do.  People love to say "just go out; the work will be there when you get back."  Yes, it will.  And we'll still have to do it.  And we'll just be that much more behind.

The people who are encouraging date nights are kind and well-meaning but they are not offering to come over and do my laundry, pay my bills, call my insurance company about a referral to the orthopaedist so my scoliosis patient can get an xray, arrange for an oil change, take my kid to the orthodontist and the xray place, or give a math test. Even if  it made sense for someone to take care of these things for me, no one can do the seminarian's studying and writing for him.  This is our life right now.

Rather than try to squeeze in a date during these times, it works better for us to just acknowledge what's going on.  To accept that, hey, we're in another one of those times, and we need to just buckle up, hold on tight, and wait for the ride to be over. Because one day it will be over, at least for a while.There will be a break, and we'll have more time.  It might be a short break, but it will come.  Just not now.

This is also a time when the kids' need for their daddy comes before my need for my husband. When the dad's time is tight, and he's got only a little to give, I let him give it to the kids.  I've been rebuked about this too. We are warned not to let the kids think they are the center of the family.  A common saying is something like "the best thing parents can do for their kids is have a strong marriage."  Yes, that's true.  And a strong marriage shouldn't crumble because the parents don't get enough date nights.

I always laugh a little inside when someone tells me that date night is sacred in their house, that nothing ever gets in the way of it.  First, I think that's a little lie.  I'm sure there are times - sick kids, deadlines at work other emergencies - that get in the way of date night.  But I also think that there are times when something should get in the way:   a child who needs time with Daddy.

If my kids' dad has been working hard and been inaccessible all week (or multiple weeks), and there is finally a little spare time, I'm not going to take him out of the house and away from them.  We're not going to leave them home while we go out.  We'll have a few minutes to have tea - or a cocktail - together after the kids are in bed.  We'll take 15 minutes to walk the dog.  And sometimes, that is just enough. 

Remember Ann Landers, the advice columnist?  I loved Ann.  Every now and then she'd have a letter from someone in a retirement home, complaining that their kids never visited.  And then there'd be a response from someone who gave their reasons for never visiting their parents.  Often the reason was simple:  when they were young, the parents never had time for them and they see no reason to make time for their parents now.

We can't predict the future but my husband and I expect to have a lot of time alone once our kids are up and out.  We won't be seeing them every day then.  We will have the opportunity for all the date nights we want.

I can wait for that, during these busy times.  It's not really all that far off.

No comments: