Still a Couple

Mixed Emotions

Every once in a while, my husband will say to me, "Wanna go out for coffee?"

That's a signal to me that we need to restore something to our marriage, something that is quite separate from the factors that make us partners in the cooperative venture known as parenting. Sometimes it's not the best time for me to drop everything and go out with my husband, but I go, even if it's with mixed emotions.

You see, it's important to remember that before you were a parent, you were a wife. The primary relationship in your life is really your marriage rather than the mother/child thing. Mothering children has a way of crowding out the things in your life that make you an individual. But when this happens, you better make room for yourself and for your marriage, or you'll get lost in the sauce of maternal nurturing. It sounds silly, but a mother can find herself doing a disappearing act as the label "Mother" takes over the one marked "Person."

And the thing is, if you don't take time out from nurturing your children, you, and your marital relationship will suffer. That means the kiddies, suffer, too. So, I put down the basket of clothes I was going to fold, call a babysitter, and take off with my husband to visit our favorite café.

As I get out of the car, my husband takes a good long look at my legs, like a thirsty desert-wanderer. I'd forgotten I had sex appeal, so it was good to have a reminder. I order a sinful, triple chocolate mousse cake to go with my double espresso, and eat it in long, luxurious, mouth-pleasing bites. I close my eyes for a minute, then open them and look around the café at the people and what they're wearing. My husband launches into a story about a customer's amusing foibles. His work takes him out of the house, so I bask in his stories of people I don't know, getting a perspective of the outside world, or at least, the world that is outside of my little world of diapers and sticky chins.

Fill 'Er Up

It's an almost subconscious process; almost but not quite: I can feel the content of this experience filling me back up like an empty tank drinking gasoline. I feel myself returning to my body and spirit. As my husband signals the waitress for our bill, I give him a grateful smile and say thank you.

He gets kind of puffed up for being the male protector in our relationship: happy to be looking out for my needs, glad to be benevolent. He says, "You needed to get out."

He was right. Or almost right: We needed to get out.