By Contributing Mama Erin Butler
After four years of marriage,
my husband and I have started dating again. The good news is that it’s to each other.
The bad news is, even after years together, it’s not as easy as we thought.
Since our daughter was born two years ago we have gone out, without child in tow, four times. Five, if you count when we dropped her off at my parents so we could go sign our wills.
Every parenting magazine warned us to “make time for each other” but we didn’t. And while we are far from divorce court, our relationship has shifted.
Before baby, it was all about “us” and now it’s all about “her.” Our lives revolve around our daughter and we have struggled to make the “us” still work. And while friends tell me it’s common, it’s still unsettling.
Since my husband works from his home office about three times a week and I am a stay at home mom there is no lack of contact between the three of us, in fact sometimes, it’s too close for comfort. And maybe that’s the problem, too much quantity and not enough quality.
My energy has been on Katherine for two years straight. Every day I am plagued by the hard hitting questions: Will she ever eat carrots that aren’t smothered in humus? When will she start calling animals by their names and not the sounds they make? How long can I keep up the charade that Sesame Street is the only program on tv?
And while I focus on a daily routine consisting of meal time, nap time, play time, laundry time, etc… my husband brings home the bacon to finance all those organic peas, Lands End sheets, swim classes and gallons of Spray and Wash. While our two roles go hand in hand, we live with such different responsibilities that it somehow turned into different lives, with our daughter as the only common denominator.
When she was a baby it wasn’t so obvious, or maybe I was too sleep deprived to notice. But lately, I’ve been feeling that the one relationship that was supposed to withstand anything was beginning to buckle. And that’s scary.
So we instituted date night. After five phone calls to arrange babysitting, six outfit changes, and locating a missing baby doll, we were back in the dating pool.
At the restaurant we started talking about the weather. Like we were 80 years old, and just met. To save the sinking ship we quickly diverted the conversation to our daughter.
But after a half hour of chit chat, we finally started to talk. Not about who was going to go to the grocery store the next day or the oil change my car desperately needed, but about the things that really matter.
We discussed my writing projects, the changes he wanted to make in his career and where we, as a family, want to be in five years.
And then there were the real issues.
How it breaks his heart that Katherine always chooses to be with me rather than him.
How I am envious of the freedom he seems to have…after all, no one else ever follows him into the bathroom!
How he misses spending time with just me.
And how I miss the feeling of being the only girl in his life.
It was one of the most productive conversations in months. I know one date is certainly not going to solve all of our problems, but it at least put them on the table.
Though it was nice to have an uninterrupted meal, by the end of the night we missed her, which is something I don’t have the opportunity to feel often.
We took our dessert home so we could be the ones to tuck her (and her baby doll) into bed.
We ate our cheesecake sitting on the couch listening to the hum of the baby monitor behind us. It wasn’t the sweep-you-off-your-feet romantic ending that we had years ago but it was us. The “us” that hadn’t been around in a long time.
Now, I am not the type of girl to kiss and tell, but I am pretty confident there will be a second date.