The other day, I sat outside for over an hour in a torrential downpour watching my husband play baseball. It was cold and muddy, my ballet flats and jeans were soaked. As I crouched under a tiny umbrella that had seen better days, one of the players said something about how awful it was to be a spectator in such terrible weather. And without thinking, I replied, “Actually, it isn’t so bad. I would take sitting here alone, even in the pouring rain over chasing my kids around any day.” He gave me a funny look, and I realized how terrible that sounded. But what was more terrible was how much I meant it.
My husband and I, like most parents, don’t get to spend a lot of time alone. We are actually luckier than most, though; we have a very strong network of family who live nearby which allows us one night a week out (usually to play on one of our many sports teams). On the weekends, we rarely spend time alone. After all, we hardly get to see the kids during the week, with a strict commute/work/school/daycare/sleep routine that allows us about an hour of “free” time to spend with them each day (at which point, we are usually so exhausted that it is spent watching Netflix). So, we pack our weekends full of bike rides, splash pads, apple picking, local festivals, and playdates, and make sure we are doing our best to spend every moment building memories that will last their lifetimes. However, somewhere between building forts in our living room and jack-o-lantern carving, my husband and I get lost.
I hate to admit it, but there are definitely times that I forget why I fell in love with my husband. We get so bogged down by the stresses of life and children that our relationship sometimes feels more like a series of transactions than a marriage. I make dinner, he sets the table. I do the dishes, he gives our daughter a bath. He drops the kids off, I pick them up. Days pass before I realize that we haven’t had a “real” conversation (except if you count discussing the frequency of our preschooler’s bowel movements a conversation). It is amazing how lonely it can all get, if you let it.
Which is why this weekend was so amazing. Two childless days, with no responsibilities other than hanging out with my husband, and watching him play baseball (in the rain). When his games were over, we ate pizza and watched TV together. We took walks and held hands. We spent time with some friends. By the end of the weekend, we both felt a renewed sense of excitement and love; and we both agreed that we need to spend more alone time together.
I know some people who have a really hard time leaving their kids. There are some that even admit they have never left their kids, because they would miss them too much. I definitely love my kids, and I do think about them when I am gone. But I definitely don’t pine for them all day when I am away. Am I a terrible parent because of it? Maybe. But I also think that part of being a good parent is taking care of yourself, and your relationship. When they grow up, my kids will probably not remember the weekend or two a year that their parents skipped town. But I am pretty sure they will remember the love that they felt from us, and the friendship, respect, and love that my husband and I had with each other.