Reaching Out…

Friendship neglected
Doesn’t die, but lies dormant,
Waiting for sunshine.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Have you ever had a friendship kind of fizzle? No real reason, but one, or both of you, simply stopped watering it. And then you realize 6, 12 months later that it has gone?

What do you do?

You reach out. Or rather, I reached out. A few weeks ago.  I felt bad that I hadn’t returned a call a million years ago and one of her Facebook postings brought the guilt roaring back. Ouch. So I swallowed (what’s the worse that can happen!?!?) and reached out. She reached back. (Phew!) Then we had a great phone conversation.

The funny part? She thought she had been the one to retreat. And I insisted that my life had just been so busy and narrow (by choice) and the kids and the work and although not a good excuse, it was a reason so it wasn’t you it was me… We both laughed and moved on.

I think I could be a better friend. I come from a long line of women who make great friends but we don’t always pay consistent attention to them. We come in and out of them, happily picking up where we left off, never worried that the “leaving off” might not suit some people.  Do I not want the closeness?   Am I lazy and unable to take the time to invest?  No, I think I just forget that the investment is easy and has a fabulous rate of return.  Then why does it seem to work with some friends and not with others? Clearly, I’m broken… it’s all my fault. Actually, I’m probably more normal than I think I am.

Well, that call was a wonderful reminder. I definitely got something from the reconnection. I think she did too.  It doesn’t take a lot of water and sunshine to keep a friendship healthy and growing. Yes, it does take some attention, but less than you think. And as in most things, you get what you give, and usually more in return.

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The Pleasures of Date Night (not Balls, part 3)

Date night’s reminder:
“Oh, so that’s why I like you”
She says with a smile
.
At a long week’s end
Four words bring joy when uttered:
“Tonight is date night.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I find date night so important that it deserves 2 haikus. You see, we were married for 9 years before we decided to have children. We were “dual income, no kids” and loved every minute of it. Then one night in bed, I looked at Frank and said “Honey, I want a baby”, and neither of us laughed, so… we began our journey into parenthood.

I have zero regrets about having children. It suits us. We love them. They tolerate us. The dog hasn’t run away. Everyone gets along as much as 4 people who are forced to eat and travel together can. All good signs that we’ll make it through.

The key to our success as parents (and by success I mean that we haven’t harmed each other yet) I think lies fully in our decision when our first was 5 months old to have date nights about twice a month. It is a glorious opportunity for me to remind myself why this man – who makes mind-bending noises and emits smells that cause my eye lashes to molt – would be worth picking again.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m no picnic either. I believe I’m being coy when I ask “So, what did you do today?” when I really mean “What?! You haven’t started dinner yet?” But all memories of that which drives us crazy about each other melts away when the back door clicks shut, and we scurry to the car to make our escape.

So, here are my words of wisdom gleaned from 9 years of date nights:

  • Keep it simple. A cheap meal and walk around the mall holding hands is sometimes the best.
  • Don’t always do a movie… you can sit in the dark and not talk anytime.
  • Have it start early enough that you still get home in time to get a decent night sleep, or whatever you might want to do.
  • Don’t over plan them. 80% of our date nights are decided in the driveway before turning onto our street. We have a few options, decide at the last-minute and don’t sweat it. I tried for a while to plan elaborate date nights (anything that requires a ticket in advance is elaborate for me), but my life is already full of responsibility and decision-making… date night shouldn’t be.
  • Don’t stop. We took a break from date nights after our second child was born – boy did we miss it.
  • Pay for a good sitter. You won’t worry and that’s worth a ton (nothing dulls a date night more than fretting about the kids). There have been times when the budget was such that all we could afford to do that night was pay the sitter – we didn’t care. Our sitter is the best ever: one of our kids’ prior day care teachers who has children of her own, knows CPR and I trust with my kids unquestioningly. As Visa says: Priceless.
  • Related, make the expense a line item in your budget. If you asked me “date night or housekeeper” or “date night or no new purse for 2 years” I would pick date night without hesitation (and then get my mom to buy me a new purse). I plan to be with Frank for the long haul, and I don’t want to be one of those couples who, when married 30 years, does nothing but bitch about each other to anyone who will listen (jokes about body functions don’t count). Date night will prevent this.

Alas, if you were looking for something about how date nights have kept our love life wonderfully alive and hot-hot-hot, well, you missed the part about us being married for nearly 19 years and having 2 kids. That isn’t the point. The point is: I love what we were before we were parents enough to keep tending it.

And so the balls trilogy comes to a close.

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