Last week, my husband and I drove 100 miles to a training for foster and adoptive parents. After dropping our three young boys off at the sitter, we became giddy at the prospect of all that uninterrupted talk time in the car and a complimentary dinner for the two of us (well, and a room of strangers).
Between bites of wild rice soup, my husband said to me, “This almost feels like a date night, doesn’t it?”
“Yeah” I replied, chuckling. “We go to extreme measures to pull off a date these days!”
Ten years ago, our dates looked a bit different.
We hiked along icy cliffs overlooking Lake Superior and skied down snow-covered mountains.
We mountain biked wooded trails, hopping logs and flying down twisting curves much faster than we should have.
We descended a rope ladder to swim in a cavernous cenote, climbed steep Mayan ruins, and ended the day eating calamari beneath a canopy on a gusty beach.
Then we procreated.
When our first son was a baby, we somehow pulled off a two-week trip out west on a national park circuit. It was sort of our last hurrah before a long stretch of home time in the baby-making-toddler-rearing years.
When you birth three sons in under four years, your mountain climbing and cenote swimming tend to diminish.
In the last seven years, we have managed a few short getaways sans kids, including a fabulous New Year’s Eve in our favorite lakeside town with friends, and a marriage retreat for which I was incredibly pregnant and remarkably un-fun.
Perhaps the most memorable getaway was in 2012 — I’d won a raffle prize for a two-night hotel stay in Eau Claire, WI, so the hubs and I sweet-talked my mom into watching our two young sons for the weekend while we did some Midwest exploring.
On Saturday morning after breakfast, we set out for the mall – we wanted to stroll around holding hands, taking our sweet time browsing and chatting. We weren’t there for twenty minutes when I, pregnant at the time with our third child, started cramping and bleeding. We headed for the nearest ER and spent the day in a hospital bed watching Man vs. Food reruns and monitoring our baby (who thankfully turned out fine, in the end).
Here we are, years later, pursuing the foster-adoption of our fourth child and calling training night “date night.”
I know. It’s just a season.
These are intense years, these young family years where our small children need a lot from us, and we truly want to give it to them — to invest in them during the time they’ve been entrusted to us. We adore our boys. We love parenting. And we’re pretty good at it.
But how I long for a date night – a real one involving a pretty dress and a hot tub, or even a mountain bike.
Recently, my college roommate posted photos of her and her husband bathing in cascading mountain hot springs with the stunning-est views I’ve ever seen.
No, I’m not about to say I hope a bird poops on her sun-kissed forehead.
I’m saying GET IT, GIRL.
Enjoy that summery season. Do your thing. Soak up those hot springs and your new husband too. I hope you stayed there until the stars came out.
Sister, you are still smokin’ hot in that bikini, but I do hope you let him remove it. I hope you had sex with him that night, and I hope it was loud and uninhibited with zero toddlers banging down the door.
To all you good people who are doing life in the season before kids or after your kids have left the house, don’t take dating for granted, K?
Celebrate your freedom and your ability to give yourself to your mate. Have some dining room sex and think of me. Okay, maybe don’t think of me during, but just know I’m rooting for you while I watch a mandated reporter YouTube video from a conference room during my winter of dating.
Yes, I know I’m whining. Tease-whining, though.
I know we’re gonna be okay.
There will be another summer. I believe that.
There will be another season of dinners on the beach. We’ll find a mountain hot spring, or at least our mountain bikes. We’ll do our thing again when toddlers aren’t our thing anymore, and I know, my hopeful and exhausted friends who also answer to Mommy and Daddy, that you’ll find a way to do yours again too.
*featured image via Canva