Reinventing our relationship | Living with Gleigh

I had a friend and her daughter visit from Florida this summer after not seeing them for a couple years. My daughters get along very well with her daughter who is 11. We were all glad to see each other and reestablish our relationship.

I was especially glad to see my girlfriend as we have things in common I haven’t found in other friendships, most specifically gardening. She has a horticulture degree and is responsible for helping me build my beautiful garden in my front yard and she loves to come and garden here in the Pacific Northwest.

But this year, along with gardening, I wanted to do some other fun things we hadn’t done on previous visits. We invited our daughters to partake in some of the new sights and activities we wanted to cover, but they declined, preferring instead to play games on the Wii and their Nintendo DS’s. With my kids in their mid to late teens they were old enough to stay home alone.

This turned out to be a rather pleasant surprise for my friend and me. We went without them and didn’t have to deal with feeding our kids, listening to them whine about how bored they were or any of the other fun traits children can bring to an otherwise good time (I say this with the utmost sarcasm). We figured if they didn’t want to go where we wanted to go, they wouldn’t have a good time anyway.

We went to Bellevue Botanical Gardens, hit all the gardening centers in all the stores in the area, went to several nurseries, drove to Gig Harbor to eat at the only Fondi’s restaurant left (there used to be one Kent Station), and visited all the Saturday Farmer’s Markets in the area. We had a great time leaving the kids behind. Our one concession was dropping them off at Wild Waves before we drove to Gig Harbor.

We were home every evening to fix dinner, which usually comprised of some special treat we found on our adventures, from special pastas with goat cheese and golden beets or beet greens to fresh corn on the cob.

Understandably my friend’s and my idea of a good time was not necessarily a good time to our teens and preteen. This got me thinking about my husband and me. We have been struggling lately to find a balance in our lives as a family. But as we are getting older our daughters are getting older too and what we find is a good time is not always shared by them.

The fact is, when kids are not old enough to take care of themselves, there are only two philosophies parents must take when seeking a fun time: make the kids go anyway or acquiesce and stay home. Okay, there’s the babysitter route too, but it limits the distance you can go, plus it’s an extra expense.

The other fact about children is they take a lot of time away from a marriage. It’s not a bad thing, we were expecting it. But what we didn’t expect was how much more time our teenagers seem to take than they did when they were little. We probably have lost track of our relationship more in recent years than we ever have. I think it’s because teens seem to always be around; no more putting them to bed so you can spend quiet time together.

So I’ve been talking to my husband about reinventing our relationship. I told him it’s time we started deciding what we are going to do and invite our children to come with us. If they decline, we go anyway. It’s time for me to shed my angst about creating magical family adventures in spite of my children’s resistance. We all know how good teens are at ruining a family bonding time when they didn’t want to be there in the first place.

My husband and I decided to try on our newly invented relationship and were wondering what we should do first when the phone rang. It was the dentist office, telling us our dental cleanings and checkups were due and she just happened to have an opening the following day in which she could fit us both at the same time. I told my husband and he said, “It’ll be like a date!”

Well, we have to start somewhere.

Gretchen Leigh is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Covington. She is committed to writing about the humor amidst the chaos of a family. You can read her column every week on You can also read more of her writing and her daily blog on her website

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