When our oldest daughter turned 13, we celebrated.
Beth Falkenstein: I'm not talking about an elaborate birthday party with my daughter and too many of her 13-year-old friends -- although we had one of those. I'm talking about dinner, alone with my husband ... at a restaurant (fancy) ... with drinks (alcoholic) ... and a movie (R-rated)!
Since our oldest daughter was now 13 years old, we no longer had to spend half our entertainment budget on a babysitter. We could legally leave her at home with her 10-year-old sister and go out for an evening that didn't involve cafeteria trays and soft drink dispensers, or require us to check our watches and our wallets every half hour.
We were going out on a real date, just like we used to!
When we started our family, my husband and I knew that parenthood would bring a whirlwind of change to our lives -- mostly wonderful. We knew that parenthood would bring with it responsibilities that would impinge upon our finances and romances (and possibly one or two "-ances" more).
What we didn't know is how long 13 years would feel when you don't have any money or sex.
The sensation as we left the house that night was exhilarating. We felt light and free. Visions of candlelight, adult conversation, and adult non-conversation filled our heads.
To paraphrase a well-known forest sprite: What fools we parents be'd.
The candlelight at our table had to compete with the light from my cell phone, which I kept next to my plate so I would be sure to hear it if our daughter called. The conversation centered on such adult topics as "Do you think our daughter remembered to lock the back door?" and "Do you think our daughters have killed each other yet?" And as for the romance? After a rich meal and a bottle of wine in a darkened room, we couldn't wait to get into bed ... and go to sleep.
We skipped the movie and were home before 10 PM.
That was a year ago. We've had a few more dates since then, and had a bit more success separating being a couple from being parents (we can even stay awake until 11 now; which, as Spinal Tap fans know, is one later). But in the end, we have to admit we love being parents, so the intimacy can wait if it has to.
Besides, in just six more years our youngest will be going off to college. And let me tell you, when she does, my husband and I are going to be the life of the nursing home!
|Beth Falkenstein was a sitcom writer and freelance contributor to "Self," "Redbook," and "YM" magazines before taking a full time job in her kitchen. She loves her new bosses (ages 13 and 10), and is grateful that they approve of inter-office romance, because Beth thinks her co-worker (Jim, age 45) is really hot.|