My husband and I had been having regular weekly dates for about a year. That was mainly because we had to drive our teenage son to youth group over thirty miles away every Saturday night, so we used the wait time to date. That has changed, however, and I don't think we've been anywhere alone together since our anniversary. Life in a household of seven people just gets kind of crazy when school starts, and before we know it, adult time doesn't even exist. So this weekend, I made a date with Hubby to simply go up to our cabin. It's practically next door, it's free, and no one else is there. And if the kiddos need us, we can be back in the farmhouse in a flash.
This rustic-cabin-that-needs-a-lot-of-work was fully furnished when we bought it. In fact, it had so much furniture, kitchen stuff, old clothes and shoes, and hunting/fishing gear, that you could barely walk through it. Our main major project the first year it was in our possession was to fill a large dumpster with stuff that we thought no one would want and fill our vehicles with other stuff to take to Goodwill. The place is far less cluttered now, and once you get past the "eclectic decor" (yes, that's definitely meant as a euphemism) and the slight musty, mildewed smell, it's really not too bad. There's certainly potential.
Anyway, since the cabin included quite a collection of movies that we'd never seen, I thought we could pop some popcorn on our stove, open the bottle of hard cider I picked up at the farmers' market, and watch a movie on VHS. Does anyone else out there still have a bunch of videotapes you just can't get rid of? And a working VCR? It seemed like a relaxing date night to me. We could sit up there in yoga pants or blue jeans with an old crocheted afghan over our laps (that came with the cabin too), watch a fun movie without children constantly talking or asking questions, and have the entire bowl of popcorn all to ourselves.
It was fun at first. But the movie stunk. I won't even say what it was, but I felt guilty for absolutely wasting an hour and a half of our time alone sitting in front of it. The popcorn and cider were good, but I kept wondering how many more calories I'd consumed and thinking if I were back at the house, I could at least lift my five pound dumbbells while watching this terrible video. I was bored, so I started thinking about the research I'd done earlier in the day about an issue I'm having with one of our children. And the longer I sat on that sofa, the more I noticed the mildew odor in the cabin, and I wondered how I will ever get rid of it.
By the time the movie had ended, the popcorn was down to the unpopped kernels, and the last drop of cider had been consumed, I was talking to my husband about my latest worries and concerns about our kids. And this is what seems to happen at some point on every one of our dates. It doesn't matter if we're dining in a new restaurant, sitting at Barnes and Noble with coffee and a stack of books, hiking up the mountain, or shopping (for the kids, of course), our dates always turn into uninterrupted discussions about the children.
OK, sure there are spatterings of other topics during the night, but the bulk of our evening definitely revolves around funny things one of them did, something about one of them that I'm obsessing about, or something one of them said that day that really annoyed me. Seventeen years ago, we talked about our dreams, our ideologies, things we were passionate about, and what we thought we'd accomplish in life. Now our conversations revolve around who's going to the cross country meet and who's driving a child to a birthday party. Or how we're going to get one of them to care more about his education and not be satisfied with getting Cs. Or which stores we need to get through in two hours to buy supplies for a social studies project, snacks for one of the classes for a week, and three different sizes of uniform pants because all the children seem to have outgrown their clothes in a month's time. No matter how hard I try, I can't make it through a single date without bringing up the kids in our conversations. I think my husband could probably do it, but I can't.
And what I'm wondering is...in a decade or so, when the last one is heading off to college, will our conversations return to our hopes and dreams when we have time alone? Since we'll have so much time alone, will we run out of things to talk about? Or will we be discussing our grandchildren's performance at their last soccer game? Will I be expressing concerns about a grown child's recent move or new job? Will we be shopping for the numerous birthdays of grandchildren I anticipate written on the calendar?
Or will we simply be discussing the weather, current events, or (God forbid) the upcoming presidential election?