Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Romance and the Attached Mom: It Can and Does Happen!

(A pic from before our last date in April of this year for our fifth anniversary.)

Before we had our son, my husband and I weren't exactly the most romantic couple in the world, but we were pretty comfortable. When we were pregnant, I imagined the romance being about the same, just worked around the baby's schedule. It seemed nearly everyone we met with kids told us about the importance of "date night" and so I imangined that would be what we would do, too. Maybe not every week, but at least once or twice a month, we would get a sitter and go out to movie or dinner or some other kind of "traditional" date activity. Then we had our son and reality hit.

For one reason or another, we've been on like two or three dates in the almost three years it's been since the birth of our son. Some of it has to do with the fact that we spent the first two years of his life living far away from family and most of our friends. Some of it has to do with the colic he had for the first four months. Some of it has to do with his food allergies which can be very scary and hard to deal with for adults who are not used to being around him and dealing with food allergies. But most of it has to do with us and our unwillingness to give up much of what we view as a very important time in our son's life. This is the only time in his life when he will WANT to be with us all of the time, and we, in turn, WANT to be with him. We choose to have "date nights in" more than "date nights out." We have had to learn how to be flirty, romantic, and sweet at the same time as we are being "mom and dad." Don't get me wrong, we don't always get the balance right and have our ups and downs as much as any other couple does (with or without kids), but in a way, I think we are in a more solid, unified place now than we ever were before. Even though we didn't plan on being "attached parents," by doing the things our son needed we became "attached"--both to him and to each other.

It's a fallacy that romance ends when you have children. Instead, it changes its definition on you. Instead of expecting romantic, planned weekends; elaborate, beautiful gifts; and traditional dinner/dancing/movie dates all the time, you learn to find the romance in your husband taking a crying baby or a toddler off your hands when you need time for yourself. Instead of thinking my husband is only being romantic if he gets me flowers or cards, I've come to understand his version of "daddy" romance is often to give me help making dinner or to tell me I look wonderful even when my hair is barely brushed and I have a three year old insisting I hold him while I make his morning breakfast. Instead of the declarations of eternal love that we might have given each other while dating, I find that we tell each other we love each other through our love for our family and our child. It makes my heart flutter every time I hear him tell our son that he thinks it's just wonderful that he's "just like mommy" in the way he does something. (My husband always uses that phrase respectfully and as a compliment). As for weekly romance, every weekend, I let my husband sleep in and have some alone time on Saturday morning and he does the same for me on Sunday. I will take that Sunday morning alone time any day over almost any kind of romantic gift. I even wrote a whole blog about the little romantic things you can do that really work better for parents than a lot of the "traditional" date night romance.

Don't get me wrong, it's important not to eschew traditional, "grown up," couples only romance entirely. Sometimes we do go a little too long without the hearts and flowers, grown up "real conversation," and concentrated alone time that traditional romance is yearned for, but when we realize that we've been remiss, we do try to make it up to each other. And the little "family friendly" romantic moments we try to build into everyday for each other make those traditional, planned romantic moments even more heartfelt and treasured. This Valentine's Day, I finished putting our son to bed and walked out to find a candlelit picnic complete with sparkling cider, wine glasses, and chocolate treats on our living room floor (which had been my exact plan to set up for him and was just coming into the living room to send him out on a random errand so that I could set it up myself.) It may be one of my favorite all time romantic moments ever because we both wanted the same thing at the same time and had found a way to be alone and romantic in our own home. One day, we will be done having small children and we will not be all together all the time and my husband and I will probably have a lot more time for going out alone and being traditionally romantic. In the mean time, we are enjoying the romance that can come only when you are appreciating the everyday, ordinary, spontaneous romance of being dedicated co-parents of a small child.

I love you Matt! Thank you for being who you are not just for me, but for our family and son!

Thanks for reading,


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