I love both roles, though it’s fair to say that the second one has a tendency to overpower the first. The demands of a four-year-old and a two-year-old are pretty relentless, which means that Scott and I often end up feeling less like a married couple and more like two amiable roommates who occasionally wave to each other on the way out the door.
But last weekend, my heroic parents took the boys overnight so Scott and I could celebrate an early anniversary. For dinner, we lounged on the patio of an Italian restaurant, where I had a risotto that was one of the best things I’ve eaten in the past few years. The manager brought us complimentary port in honor of the anniversary, and I had an affogato (gelato covered in hot espresso: it tasted like a fancier version of those coffee-flavored Nips candies that I used to eat as a kid). And you know what? We talked. We talked on and on without interruption, without the sound of PBS Kids or a remote-controlled Buzz Lightyear twirling in the background. (How weird is it to remember that all of our conversations used to be like that?) It was lovely.
The next morning, we enjoyed the novelty of leisurely coffee out on the patio before tackling some much-needed home repairs. If housework seems like an odd way to spend an anniversary celebration, I invite you to work on your next home project in the company of my children. They take an avid interest in anything involving tools, offering enthusiastic help (make that “help”) and relentless verbal commentary. As much as we appreciate our boys’ good intentions, it’s easier to trim tree branches when there is no junior arborist hot on your heels (this is especially true when you are scaling a ladder).
All in all, it was a most satisfactory experience. And it reminded me that it’s totally okay to like having time away from your kids. So much of my energy goes into nurturing my boys, which is right and proper, but my marriage deserves a little pampering, too. And when Scott and I have some time apart from the kiddos, there’s more energy and freshness in our parenting. Simply put, we are renewed.
It’s like when I take time to myself, to go write or pray: in a roundabout way, it’s actually an investment in my boys, because it results in a happier, more sane mom. That precious time together with Scott, whether we were sipping port or hacking trees, helped me get back in touch with all the reasons why I chose to start a family with him in the first place. I’ve never really forgotten those reasons; they just get covered somewhat by the thousand little stresses and distractions of family life. Sometimes, it takes an anniversary — and a little time à deux — to pull them right back out into the open.
Photo of my wedding bouquet. Wasn’t it pretty?