I rarely hire a nighttime babysitter. Nothing wrong with it, and if you do so for personal or professional reasons — knock yourself out! Personally, I find that sticking to our daily routine is best for my kids, for me, and for our family flow. On the aggregate, the deeper the grooves of ritual, the deeper my connection to my family and life. It’s not the end of the world if I don’t tuck my kids to bed every single night. Everyone survives if we miss our evening routine of each kid wandering out of the bath, towel draping off their little bodies, asking, “Can you hold me like a baby?” as I sit in the rocking chair and they lay across my lap in my arms, and we indulge in a few one-on-one moments before they get into their jammies.
I’d rather not miss this jam, I mostly limit my professional obligations to daytime school hours, and romantic pursuits for weekends when my kids are with their dad.
This Thursday night? Amelie is babysitting, kids! And I won’t be home till after you’re in bed.
I’ve been writing (and thinking about and spending time with and other delicious activities) someone I really like. Someone who is becoming part of my life — and may be for a long time. I let him know that weeknight dates are great.
If you’re involved with someone you care about and hope to know long-term, you should do the same.
Sure, there’s the thrill of sneaking out of family duties to indulge in the company of a handsome man who escorts you to a nice restaurant strategically located down the block from his Brooklyn apartment. But more than that, deviating from your family’s routine is critical if that relationship stands a chance of thriving.
For one, relationships require time together. Thank goddess for Facetime, IM and text that facilitate spontaneous and intimate chatter. But real relationships more than one encounter weekly. Since my boyfriend is not yet in the fold of my family, that requires dates that require babysitters.
More importantly, rejiggering my life for a date sends important signals to my boyfriend. Relationships thrive when when the couple makes their relationship the priority above all others — including any children in the picture. Making that work in blended families is tricky business in which I have scant personal experience. But a prospective partner may struggle to envision that he might be a priority to a busy, committed single mom. My current relationship is but two months old. He does not take precedence over my kids now. But rearranging my life every week or two for him expresses my values and willingness to invest in the relationship.
Finally, making an extra-super-duper effort to create space for a new relationship is critical if you’re a woman like me — independent and proud. Feminism has taken its toll on men’s sense of relevance (just google Hanna Rosin + The End of Men). When you’re a professional single mom you are the walking embodiment of the fruits of feminism: financial independence and so much social autonomy that you can run a whole family on your own. It’s hard for a man to see where he might fit into that. But you know and I know that we absolutely need men. And not just for a warm penis, car shopping and a date to your cousin’s wedding. I need a man to be my lover, yes. But also my intellectual sounding board and my emotional support. I need someone to take me out on a Thursday night and laugh at my stories and trust me enough to share his and hold my hand on the street and make me feel like a woman.
This Thursday I will get a pedicure, squeeze my ass into something inappropriate, and make sure I have enough cash in my black clutch to pay Amelie at the end of the evening. As I kiss the kids goodbye and traipse to Brooklyn to lavish in all things good and human, I may suffer a twinge of guilt for not being home. But that guilt will be tampered with a knowing this is not family time borrowed for a decadent romp normally relegated to visitation weekends. This, this is something else.