Father Time is a weekly column dedicated to the concept of time in a parent’s life, particularly a father’s life. The point of view comes from a father of two young sons, both under three-years-old, and how time really is just that: a concept.
There we were: me, still puffy-faced from a week-long sinus infection, and my wife, still debating which jeans to wear that would flatter her, as we walked into Lemonade, a fashionable eatery in uptown San Diego. Imagine wall-to-wall pastel, 80’s music all day, and Whole Foods food served cafeteria-style by foodie hipsters. This was lunch. At 2 pm.
Afterward, we waddled with over-stuffed bellies into Urban Outfitters next door. I didn’t know whether to browse or start clubbing the music was so hot. We perused books about how to microwave a cake for one, and almost bought a cube that changes colors.
Afterward, we went to Trader Joe’s to pick up some basics, when the cashier, so curious about our day, asked what was the best part.
“Being away from the kids,” I said. It just sort of fell out.
She laughed. “Some people might say so.”
“It’s our first time away from them in awhile,” my wife quickly corrected.
Yes, it was our first time out in a while. Six months to be exact.
So, a mid-afternoon date might not be the most appealing time to go out with your Number One, but it was a good start. Especially after such a long stretch.
I admit, we’re doing it the hard way: nuclear family-style. Mom, Dad, 2.5 kids (the .5 being our cat, I suppose). No nanny, no regular babysitter. Our closest in-town relative is my first cousin, who we dispatch about two or three times a month for a few hours on a Saturday when I’m out of town for work. In short, there’s no village raising our kids.
Our together time as a couple is punctuated by periods of child care, meal prep, and appointments for work or otherwise. At the end of the night, when the kids are in bed, we get about two hours to hang out. We watch a Netflix, have some ice cream, and maybe play a game. It’s a challenging phase of life, no doubt.
This isn’t to frighten anyone. It’s simply to paint a realistic picture of what happens in a modern, working family. One, that doesn’t have Grandma in the same town. This particular way of raising a young family has its cons when it comes to having all important husband and wife time.
That was why it was critical that we finally made some time to finally do it. We were getting to a point where we needed to go out alone. We hadn’t talked about anything but the kids in a while. Intimacy (you name the form) was in a dry spell.
We’d hired babysitters before, but had dropped the line when my mom had come in from out of town and stayed with us for a few months earlier in the year. My wife dug up their numbers and made contact with a young lady she had a good connection with. Friday afternoon was open for her. We booked the time, and once she was over and the boys were down for their naps, we were out.
We walked up and down Fifth Avenue arm in arm. We smiled at each other. We talked. Laughed. Ate. It was pretty glorious. It felt a little strange to stumble as a couple into the outside world with all its hip newness, but what those three and half hours on a Friday taught us was how important it was to make time for each other, away from the kids.
We joked that our lunch actually cost us $85, ($50 for the food itself and $35 for the sitter), yet we realized it was all worth it. Why? Here’s what happened. We arrived back home to find our infant happy and smiling in the babysitter’s arms. Our two-year old had just woke from his nap and was in good spirits. They were ready for snack and we were ready for them. They somehow seemed cuter. Prepping their dinner was easier because we were running on full tanks. The whole evening was the most relaxed it’s been in a long while.
Before the babysitter left, we asked her an important question, one that my wife and I had discussed over lunch. Could she come by every Friday? From here on out.
“Yes,” she said. “Yes, I can. After finals, my schedule opens up a lot,” she said. “And I can come over on different days. For now, though, she said. I’m good for Fridays and Saturdays.”
“That will work perfectly,” we said. “We’ll see you next week.”
If you’re family situation is like mine, don’t waste a minute and get a babysitter on board, ASAP. Those extra bucks you pay will come back to you in time lost with the most important person in the family. The one, who they say if she is happy, life is happy. And don’t wait so long to do it. There’s a trendy new restaurant waiting for you, Dad. Go in there and get with the times.
Source: The Good Men Project