It’s taken my husband and me a couple years to adjust to having teens around the house. They have opinions of their own, once they are driving they want to go places by themselves, and they may or may not do what we want when we want them to do it.
So why is it, to quote a friend of mine, “they are everywhere?”
You would think once our children become more independent they would be a lot less work. They are not. They seem to take even more effort than when they were little. It’s emotional energy they sap from their parents and I believe it’s at this time in their childhoods when parents start to lose touch with each other.
So my husband and I have taken to finding odd moments of time to spend with each other. We don’t plan these moments, they just happen. For instance, the other day we went to Costco to purchase a mattress for my husband’s parents. They already owned a mattress from Costco we bought for them last year. It was in another room of their house and they wanted the exact same mattress for their bedroom.
Sounds easy right? Not so easy. Apparently there is a season for mattresses and this wasn’t it. So not really knowing what to do, we decided to go to Taco Time and have some lunch and discuss mattress options. “It’s like a date,” one of us said. We have a regular booth at Taco Time we have frequented since before we had children. Through all the remodels Taco Time has done in the past 20 years, it’s always been “our” booth. Sitting in it takes us back to a less complicated time before we had children.
But it’s not just the booth at Taco Time where we discovered “it’s like a date.” When one or the other of us needs to run to the grocery store for something, we invite the other along. It usually leads to lunch, not always at Taco Time, but usually fast food. It’s whatever place that will kick-start an inexpensive “date”; sitting down and being waited on, if only for a minute. Somewhere to sit and reconnect without catering to the needs of our teens.
There have also been spontaneous breakfasts at McDonald’s when we were on our way to work in my mother’s yard, to pick up steer manure/compost mix for our front garden, or to collect car parts at O’Reilly’s.
Sure, we have actual date nights, but we’re not very good at consistently scheduling those. Our daughters often derail plans with an event or need they forgot to tell us about until the last minute. Although some preplanned events get disrupted by moods (theirs or ours), lack of energy or we just plain ran out of time.
However, because we have teens and they have the ability to be physically independent, meaning they can be left in the house alone and feed themselves, we know they can manage for the few hours we are gone. Better yet, because they are teens and focused mostly on their own wants and needs, if we stretch a quick trip to the store into a spontaneous date, they will probably not notice.
We often leave the house with a farewell of, “Going to Home Depot, be back soon,” and we’ll be gone for a couple hours. They are none the wiser, not being particularly attached to watching the clock.
So we grasp onto these moments when we can steal away from our teens, who seem to be everywhere. It’s a huge success when they don’t text or call us while we are away. Then we can honestly say, “It’s like a date.”
Gretchen Leigh is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Covington. She is currently finding more reasons to date her husband. You can also read more of her writing and her daily blog on her website livingwithgleigh.com or on Facebook at “Living with Gleigh.” Her column is available every week at maplevalleyreporter.com under the Lifestyles section.