Before we had our daughter, my husband and I vowed that one day when we had kids we would be the couple who consistently prioritized and carved out time together alone. We valued and recognized the importance of spending time together by ourselves as a couple, one on one. In both our dating and married life we have always enjoyed finding new restaurants to dine at and travelling to new cities together. We knew we wanted this in our future, children or not and we vowed we would find a balance between it all. We saw some of our friends who had kids who we felt mastered this, taking time for themselves to go for romantic dinners, shipping their kids off to the grandparents to spend nights together alone and going on vacations solo. We would always comment to ourselves how nice that was and how it would be us! This mentality stuck in our heads during our entire pregnancy until July 28, 2015 happened and our little pumpkin entered the world.
At first, the breastfeeding made me feel bound to her, almost in a non choice sort of way. Which I know isn’t true because I was one hundred percent making the choice to breastfeed her. But during those times I sometimes wished I could escape with my husband for more than 2.5 hours at a time. We had a few dinners out for special occasions – birthdays, anniversaries and one movie night that I can recall but we weren’t going out as regularly as we had originally thought we would. Somewhere around the 6 month old mark I had a realization that we weren’t living up to the lifestyle we had once said we both wanted. Neither of us was making the initiative to do anything about it nor were we talking about the loss of that part of our life. It turns out, in some ways we were quite content being with our little pumpkin almost 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
I finally understood why parents stopped going out alone together on dates. Why dating each other all of a sudden didn’t feel as important after all and how the family unit and way of life completely takes over. It turns out it’s actually quite nice being together all the time as a family. The need and drive to do things alone without our new addition wasn’t really there. I actually learnt to my surprise that I enjoyed a mom escape by myself for a few hours alone more than a couples escape to dinner or a movie. Each time my husband and I made plans to do something by ourselves it always ended up seeming much more fun to include our little one with us instead. I was quite shocked by this new found perspective. What happened to the value we had originally had in carving out time to continue dating? And the respect we had for our friends that we previously felt had it all figured out? It seemed as though the love for our new baby had happened. The joy and excitement she brings to us is inconceivable, how could we not want to include her in everything?
Somewhere around the time she was 8 months old I started to miss dating. I missed being courted, I missed the car door being opened for me, and I missed the spontaneous dates we once had. I started to sense a void in our relationship. It wasn’t obvious at first, more just a feeling that something was missing. But then I began to realize that it was the one on one connection time that I was missing. The value and importance of dating seemed to resurface in my thoughts. How easy and quickly it was to focus on our girl and no longer on each other. Around that time we decided to book a trip together alone, just the two of us for this fall. I am extremely nervous about leaving her but I know it has to happen. I am committed to my original way of thinking and want to find a balance between being a mom and being a wife. Just before Ems turned a year old we made a renewal of our vows, no, not our actual marriage vows but our pre-baby couple ones where we said we would make sure we continued to date and do things together alone. Last week we spent the day alone together at a local spa called Thermea. We had a fancy meal, where we didn’t have to take turns eating, didn’t have to dodge any food being thrown, and didn’t have to wipe up any spills of milk on the floor. No sippy cups and bibs were required to be served. (Although I did spill chocolate fondue on my white robe so a bib wouldn’t have hurt the situation. I panicked at first but then realized I wasn’t the one who was doing the laundry!😝) We sipped on alcohol like adults and even had enough time to stay for not only one, but two desserts. We soaked in the hot tubs, laid together in the hammocks staring at the sky, and roasted marshmallows over the fires together. It was amazing. Although we had an incredible time together just soaking each other in and chatting without being interrupted by baby screams or hair pulls, our little pumpkin was not far from our minds. I know that dating will never be like it used to be before we had our daughter but this new kind of dating is equally as wonderful. And after spending the day together alone it really reignited and reinforced the importance of continuing to date each other. The biggest difference between the old, before babies dating and this new, we have a little one at home type, is that we quickly derobbed, skipped the shower and drove home at 8 pm so we could tuck our little pumpkin in bed for the night. For us, that was the perfect compromise between the old and the new.