“Daddy, it’s ok if you and Mommy have a date.”

Well thank you for the permission, little man. I never imagined I would ever need approval from my toddler to have dinner with my wife, but when a babysitter came over so Sarah and I could have a meal by ourselves, that was the response I got.

We knew life would get busier once we had 2 children. We anticipated that we would have even less time to ourselves and it would be harder to get out of the house alone, even if it were just for dinner. But we didn’t factor in a pandemic and the inordinate amount of “quality” time we would all be spending together.

No matter how much we love our children, we need a break from them for sanity’s sake. So when Brandon followed up his initial approval of our date with, “Maybe I’ll join you on your date Daddy,” it was clear he thought our evening would be just another family night at home. And in a sense, it was. With the pandemic still raging, we’re constantly weighing the benefits of getting out of the house against the risks of potentially contracting the virus and bringing it back to our kids. For now, we’re only doing takeout so that meant our “date” was actually planned as a picnic in my basement office while Alina, Brandon’s “friend” watched the kids upstairs.

It’s been nearly a year since my wife Sarah and I have had a night on the town. For our 4-year-old Brandon, it must feel like a lifetime ago. He has completely forgotten that we used to leave the house without him for a meal occasionally. And now he can’t understand why we might want an hour or 2 to eat a meal without him. He looked at me and said, “We have all our other meals together Daddy.” That’s not completely true, but certainly it has been a regular occurrence in the past months. I reminded him that sometimes he has his own private “date with Mommy,” where I leave him alone at the table with my wife so they can have together time while I play with Adam (it’s also a good incentive to try to get Brandon to eat his food). Though Brandon understood what I was saying about him getting his own time, he wasn’t enthralled with the idea that this time I would be the one having the date and not him.

He moved onto an alternative plan – allowing us to sit in the dining room directly adjacent to his playroom. He “promised” he’d be playing in the other room and wouldn’t interrupt our date. Since we basically have a direct line of sight into that room, I struck down the idea. My counter proposal was next. I suggested, “Why don’t you come see where Mommy and Daddy will be eating so you know where we are, and then we will have our date while you play with Alina?” He processed that for a few seconds, tapping his finger against his lips and said, “Okay Daddy. It’s a deal.”

We opened the door and headed down the steps to the basement where Brandon “picked out the perfect spot,” then helped us spread out the picnic blanket and set up some paper plates and plasticware. I wasn’t sure if he was going to actually leave on his own, but he looked at us and said, “Have a fun date!” and ran upstairs to play with his friend and little brother, leaving us to have some basement BBQ.

Surprisingly, after Brandon left to play upstairs, Sarah and I actually got to enjoy some time to ourselves. We tried our best to block out everything going on around us and focus on us. Sure, we weren’t dressed up for a fancy night out and we didn’t go big. Like we’ve been doing for months, we just stayed home. It was surprisingly easy to block everything out for a few hours – the pandemic, being cooped up inside all the time, and worry about the future. It was the 2 of us, and it was perfect to just be together. No matter where it was.

Read more Making Time here

February 2021
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