The Day We Forgot We Were ParentsEllen Seidman
My husband and I couldn’t have planned our day off from parenthood if we tried. But that’s what happened last week. I already had a work vacation day, and that morning Dave decided to join me. We ended up enjoying one of our most memorable times together in recent history.
For starters: We had the house to ourselves. My daughter is away at camp, and my son is in a year-round school program. After Dave put him on the bus and shut the front door, we heard the blissful sound of silence. I couldn’t remember the last time the two of us were home alone. It was kind of like the thrill you felt as a teen when your parents left you by yourself for the first time, only we didn’t rush to the liquor cabinet to sneak drinks.
We lounged around for a while. (Wink, wink.) We made a vow: We weren’t going to talk about the kids. They usually dominate our date night conversation but our date day was going to be all about us. We decided not to plan anything in particular, because family life is typically planned up the wazoo.
We headed out in the car and drove nowhere in particular. Driving by ourselves was nice, too. (That’s when I realized just how low my bliss standards have sunk — cruising around together in a minivan? Exciting?! Sigh.) We landed at a favorite brunch spot a few towns over, a place we hadn’t been in years because neither kid likes it very much. Veggie scramble for me, omelette for him, and endless coffee refills — nobody was whining “I want to goooooooo.” We talked about work, joining a gym, the movies and shows we’d like to see and assorted friends and relatives. We shared some hopes and dreams for the future, the sort of conversation we had back when we were dating and before our lives were filled with the realities of childcare, keeping up a house and paying a mortgage.
We walked around town. Window shopped, another one of those things that falls by the wayside because your kids are making a mad dash down the street or curiously have no interest in antique armchairs. Then we decided to go swimming, so we went home for our suits then took off for the gym. It was a first for us: We’d never been to the outdoor pool without the kids. We chilled out, took a dip, steamed ourselves like lobsters in the hot tub, got back in the pool. For the first time in forever, I felt really and truly connected with Dave as a person, not a dad. We have a good marriage but it suffers from parent-itis, the tendency for all things kid to consume us.
The end of our day date was seemingly anticlimactic. We came back to the empty house, made smoothies, sat on the deck until the school bus showed up. But we were both rejuvenated, and ready to slip back into routine. It wasn’t just that we relaxed, it was that we recharged our relationship batteries — and our parental ones, too. In the days that have followed, I’ve felt a lot more chill about stuff concerning my son, from dealing with a meltdown to tackling the pile of forms I need to sign for the upcoming school year.
We’re going to try to work more date days into our lives. Few of us have the time, resources, or babysitters to do entire weekends away, but playing hookie from parenthood for the day feels decadent and delicious.
And the kids will never know.
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