I guess there is enough gray in my hair these days that people suddenly have decided I’m old enough to have “regrets.” Recently, several different people asked me what I would do differently if I had my years of early parenting to do over again. Without hesitation, I told both of them, “Date nights.”
When our children were little, my husband and I very rarely planned date nights. I had a nursing baby for nearly all of 25 years. I was committed to attachment parenting. And really, who do you have come to babysit seven children at a time? It just seemed so impossible to go out by ourselves. We did lots of “at-home dates” — just closing the door to our room and setting aside focused time after the children were asleep. But it’s really not the same.
Then, for our 25th wedding anniversary, Mike insisted we go to northern California for a week without the children. In that week, I became a strong and vocal advocate for honeymoons (we’d never had one) and date nights. As a change of scenery and an easing of momentary responsibilities melted day-to-day tensions, I relaxed into the happy company of my husband’s undivided attention. And I found I really liked it — and him.
Like a child who wants to buy everything in the souvenir shop at Disney World so that she can take the whole amazing adventure home with her, I resolved then and there to take a little “evening out adventure” with my husband at least once a month forevermore. I recognized that this was beneficial for our whole family. I shared those sentiments recently with my friend, Youth Apostles Father Peter W. Nassetta, who affirmed for me how necessary date night is. “Sometimes, parents become so focused on their kids that they forget about each other,” he said. “Kids need parents who love each other, and they need to see it!
Date nights can help children see their parents take time for each other. Of course, the parents benefit, too. They deepen their love for one another by taking the time for each other.”
When Mike insisted on an enormous seven-night date to northern California, he was insisting on making our relationship a priority. I didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to leave the kids, didn’t want to travel all the way across the country in an airplane. Didn’t want to do all the work that came before and after the trip. But I said “yes” because I knew it was really, really important to him. So, we flew to wine country. Did I mention that prior to this trip I could count on one hand the number of glasses of wine I’d had in my lifetime? The trip was amazing.
In my attempt to bring home the whole souvenir store, I found an amazing local winery and determined to learn about wine in order to share my husband’s wine- tasting hobby. Then, I — who had never really been into wine at all — signed us up for the wine club. Further, I said that we’d come out and pick up our monthly deliveries instead of having them shipped. I thereby committed to a mini-honeymoon kind of date once a month.
That was a year and a half ago. Now, Rappahannock Cellars wine is a staple in our house, and that trip to the foothills once a month is a cherished “tradition.”
I’m going to entice you out to join us for a date next month. Rappahannock Cellars is hosting Slow Food, Vast Wine, an annual fundraising event benefiting a local Catholic atrium and Montessori center. The center is a beautiful place for children to encounter the Good Shepherd in their weekly atrium sessions. A good number of the center families rely on financial aid to afford the tuition, which is kept as low as possible. Every year, Rappahannock Cellars hosts a gala of local food and wine, together with live and silent auctions. This year, the event is April 26. The beautiful setting near Front Royal is just perfect for a date night getaway that will refresh your souls and make you feel like you’ve just been on a little bit of a honeymoon. And that can only be a good thing, right?