It has been over 6 months since Gabe was born and Kamel and I had not gone on a date since Kathleen gave us the night off as my birthday present way back in April… that is until yesterday.
I am fully aware that putting our marriage first is super important. There is some disconnect inside my head, though, that acknowledges all the things that make a family healthy (Marriage comes first, make sure you take time out for yourself, don’t spend all of your down time doing chores and running to Target, etc etc) and yet also makes an exception for me. Totally legit and amazing to schedule routine date nights, to set aside alone time, etc etc… except for me? I dunno, maybe it is ego (although I would like to believe it is something more like Type-A personality or perfectionist leanings instead of something that sounds so ass-hole-y), but I have a superwoman complex. I can do it all! We can power through! Blahblahbullshitblahblahbullshit.
A month ago I lamented that all Kamel and I ever did was go to Target. While pregnant we (enthusiastically) proclaimed that we would take a day off every quarter just to stay home without the baby and spend time with one another… but PTO is precious when you have a kid in daycare and annoying illness lurks around every corner, when family lives on two far-flung corners of the country and holidays/weddings/retirements/life become way way more important. Even getting a babysitter seems daunting, and though lovely people offered I never felt like whatever we could be doing without the baby “was worth it.” I know, stupid.
So by the time 5 months rolled around Kamel and I were moving apartments, had gone through a few different colds, a few different plane rides with baby, two fist fulls of visitors, and months of not sleeping through the night. We were becoming desperate for a few hours that were a little less like constant troubleshooting and a little more like enjoying each other’s company (sans diaper changing and with the added bonus of not lugging around a 20 lb baby).
At 6 months I felt like shit. If you let it, life becomes nothing but work and I felt like I had nothing to look forward to. Kamel and I are good at making the best of most anything, but a few weeks ago I think we hit our limit. We had a date morning planned two weeks before it happened but we had let it go so long that the two weeks of waiting felt impossible. This sounds kind of dramatic, but I’m telling you – it was! I absolutely enjoy my family and my kid, but I think Kamel and I had spent the majority of the last few months just surviving. After a huge fight last Wednesday, (where I then bought Kamel an Orchid as a peace offering) we both acknowledged needing to spend more energy caring for one another. We work every day taking care of Gabe, taking care of the house, taking care of work, but we are not spending enough time loving one another. We need to be better at it.
It felt so weird… the last time I really felt like Kamel and I had a major disconnect was the winter after we got married. And here I was with a baby, looking at my husband and thinking, “Ugh, why can’t you pick up your socks?!” and him thinking, “I never get to do anything I want to do anymore!!” We both felt like we were losing ourselves, bit by bit.
When Sunday finally rolled around I was so nervous! It felt like a BIG day and that made me snippy in the morning. I didn’t know what to wear! I wanted to look good, I wanted Kamel to look good. I wanted things to be special. We weren’t even doing anything that spectacular – just a first showing of a movie at 11:35, lunch, just being together without baby. We were dropping Gabe off at 10:30 and picking him up again at 3:30. So indulgent!
You know what my favorite part was? Being able to hold Kamel’s hand. It has been a while since both of us had both hands free. And the ironic part of our date day? We ended up going to Target! To buy Gabe new chewable baby toys! And we both missed the little goober! And had to prevent each other from going to go pick him up earlier. Admitting this to be true makes me feel kind of like a loser. Twenty-four year old Lauren is rolling her eyes HARD at the loser mom-version of herself. But some of my favorite parts of my relationship with Kamel is being able to be openly and honestly nerdy parents with each other.
We need to do more things just Kamel and I. We need to make even the nothing days special enough to call in a babysitter every now and again. And when we can’t find the time to spend walking leisurely through shops and down little alleyways, we need to be especially kind to one another and protect the little things that make us who we are. It can’t all be about laundry and dishes. Marriage is hard, it takes work – like actual work, and I keep learning that over and over and over again.