I’m reminded of my identity first thing in the morning, often before my eyes are even open, by a little voice whispering or whining or exclaiming the one word I hear most: “Mom!” It’s followed by a request for breakfast, or a rambling account of a dream, or a tattle that someone has peed the bed. So, before I even get up, my job begins.
There’s a broken toy or a question about jackhammers. “Ask Daddy,” I say. I’m talking about the guy I married, not my own father, but “Dad” is as much his name now as “Mom” is mine. That’s us—Mom and Dad, somebody’s parents, the folks.
A long time ago, though, early in our marriage, before we were wiping butts and signing permission slips and forking over arms and legs for orthodontist bills, we had actual first names. We talked about things other than the mortgage and how hard fifth-grade math seems. We slept in a bed without any toddlers kneeing and elbowing us into wakefulness multiple times each night. And sometimes, just sometimes—as much as we love and adore the family we’ve created—we yearn for those days when the two of us were exactly that—the two of us, with no one to focus on but each other.
And that, my friends, is the purpose of date night.
It doesn’t have to be fancy (because who can afford fancy when you’ve got a brood of perpetually hungry mouths to feed?). More often than not, it’s an ice cream sundae or a walk through Home Depot, dreaming about things we’d like to do to the house. But whatever date night consists of, there’s something sacred in the simplicity of just being alone together for a while. When we talk, it isn’t over video game noises or the chatter of little voices. When we share a meal, we’re not cutting up anybody else’s food or nagging someone to sit down and eat. Nobody whines.
We always say we’re not going to talk about the kids, but they’re such a huge part of our lives that the topic always turns to them. Still, the talking we do on date night—even about our children—isn’t the perfunctory, problem-solving, did-you-remember-that-our-son-has-a-dentist-appointment-on-Wednesday type of talk that permeates our daily lives.
Date-night talking is naturally more relaxed and reflective; we laugh about funny things they’ve done, muse about the kind of adults we think they’ll be, and marvel at how special they are. Date night gives us time to talk about the good, instead of using up precious moments conveying bits of critical information while we pass like two ships in the night.
When I watch my husband’s face light up as he talks about our kids, I’m reminded again how much I love him. Sometimes, this type of thing gets overlooked in the midst of the daily chaos, which is sad, because we look at each other without seeing. In the hustle and bustle, we so easily forget that at one time, there was no one we’d rather look at.
Date night reminds us of who we were and who we are: not just Mom and Dad, but us, a couple. It gives us a break, however temporary, from the demands of being caretakers, and allows us once again to concentrate on each other instead of everyone else in our household. We get to take a step back, if only for a few hours, which is valuable because it’s hard to truly appreciate what you have when at times it seems like you’re drowning in it.
Time alone with my husband isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity, as vital to the health of our marriage as a vaccine. Date night isn’t about getting rid of our kids (though let’s be real, the break is nice); it’s about getting back to the fundamental reason why we started our family to begin with. Through these occasional but important moments we share together, we’re strengthening our foundation, so the home we’ve built can withstand anything.