For the past eighteen years I have been a stay-at-home mom. As such, I have been in charge of the kids, pets and the house, the doctor appointments and school. Like many stay-at-home moms, I’m the family manager.
This isn’t to say my husband does not contribute. He does quite a bit. But the biggest reason I have yet to work full time is that his job has demanding hours and responsibilities and takes him on frequent trips. And so, it makes sense for me and my own sanity to keep track of all of the working parts while he focuses on being the breadwinner.
Unfortunately, because I am the manager, I find myself at times bossing him around as much as the kids. I tell him where he needs to be and when, what needs to be done on the weekend and if I see something out of whack I deal with it accordingly or delegate to him. Poor guy, I don’t mean to treat him like my lackey but it is easy to do with many to organize, feed and clothe.
And yet, in doing all of this, in keeping in touch of what the family as a whole needs from moment to moment, I have at times lost touch of what I need or what my husband and I need together.
What we are seriously deficient in these days are date nights.
When the kids were little I would make a real effort to find a babysitter, make a dinner reservation and drag my husband on a date. Sometimes it would be just the two of us, sometimes with a group of friends, but the main focus was time together without the kids. It isn’t that he didn’t want to go, he just wasn’t into paying for dinner AND a sitter. It was a bit pricey I will admit. But my response always was, “It’s cheaper than a divorce.”
I was at home all day with littles. I NEEDED to get out of the house. No, sitting in front of the TV with you next to me with your laptop was NOT going to cut it. I don’t care how much the sitter costs. If I don’t have a REGULAR night of uninterrupted adult conversation with you, dear husband, our marriage will not last.
Was I being overly dramatic? Maybe. But, maybe not. Ignore your spouse for too long and who do they become? Just another person to boss around and feed and clothe (or maybe that’s just me).
Even though we no longer need to pay for a sitter (we’ve got three in our home that are highly qualified), we are not taking advantage as we should. This year we have two high school students, a middle schooler and two elementary school kids. Our lives are full and busy and wonderful. I enjoy so much of what I do as a wife and mother daily. When given the choice I admit that I choose spending time as a family. Because we have a senior in high school I am acutely aware of how precious time spent with our kids really is. But I also realize that someday they will be all moved out and I will be married to a stranger if I don’t do something about it.
These days the minutes I spend with my husband alone are few and far between. By the time the kids are in bed, the kitchen is cleaned up, the lunches are made for the next day I’ve flopped down on the couch and he’s… on his laptop. And even if he wasn’t catching up on work, I am so tired at that point of the day that I don’t want to speak to another human being (even him). So, where’s that connection? When do we get a chance to hang out and discuss anything other than the kids or our calendar?
I admit it is all about the choices we make in how we spend our time. I admit that we have agreed to our children’s activities which keep us busy seven days a week. But in speaking with families that have two or three kids they don’t seem to have any more spare time than us. And so, I cannot use the excuse that because we have a larger than average family that we can’t find or make the time.
So what’s the solution? I’m still working on it. Somehow we need to sneak time in together on a much more regular basis. It’s time to make a conscious effort to make our relationship a bigger priority.
One date at a time.