As a mother of two, date night is extremely elusive, even before the pandemic. Trying to find a common moment that works for my husband and I is difficult, but having to play babysitter roulette, hoping the ball lands on grandma, but inevitably lands on a blank, brings us back to the board to drawing. Then COVID-19 hit. After nine months of sitting in various places in my house to get a different perspective, it was Christmas 2020. I was buying subscription boxes for the kids to keep them busy when I couldn’t guarantee them a social life in three dimensions. . Suddenly I felt like the algorithm was seeing me and delivering date boxes to my screen with a fantastic discount. We weren’t willing to risk our little ones’ health or our own to have a good time. It seemed to be the answer to my pre-vaccinated high-risk dreams.
But while we underestimated our children’s bedtimes, we overestimated the energy we’d have at the end of the evening once they actually fell asleep. Full-contact bedtime routines left us crashing on the couch like zombies long after 9:30 p.m., far too late to make pancakes and play a game that included the first box, and the idea of bringing in a newcomer. not vaccinated in our house just so we could do activities in our house was ridiculous. The boxes piled up and became a sore spot. But the reality of our lives is that most days involve at least 14 hours of work and childcare. In the end, we are lucky. I just channeled my inner Elsa and “Let it Go”.
The summer months brought respite in that we were both vaccinated and could stroll into town for an evening dessert if my mother was around. We also took advantage of our screened-in porch, which has always been our oasis in good weather. But in truth, we hadn’t yet mastered a date night at home that didn’t end with either of us asleep on the couch or working.
With the cold weather returning, we struggled with rinsing and repeating our time on the couch. This week we had an opportunity. Our neighbors were going away for a week and forgot to cancel their meal or rather a recipe subscription service. They offered it to us. Now, I’ve wanted to try a recipe service for years, but figured if my kids didn’t like the meals, I wasn’t going to make extra meals, or invest in high-end kids meals. However, this box had literally fallen into our lap. And my husband was ready to cook with me.
I love food and I love to cook, but having cerebral palsy means that while my hands are extremely dexterous, they are also extremely slow. Having my sweetheart as sous chef not only meant I had an extra pair of hands to help me with slicing, dicing, chopping and mincing, but I had my partner there to talk, joke and laugh. So not only wouldn’t we be eating at midnight if I was methodically chopping everything up. We worked as a team, a well-oiled machine to do it while having fun. We were able to try three new recipes that will be in rotation with us for the family. So yeah, the kids were 20 feet away, and they definitely came for hugs and to have grievances arbitrated. But we also had to change our perception of what a date really was.
Pre-kids, our perception of a date took place over several hours, and when we go out, we can still practice that. However, when we are at home and want to spend time with each other, it can be broken down into 15-30 minute chunks so that we can easily parent as needed. Sometimes the key to being a happy, engaged parent is helping to stay engaged with your spouse, friend, or someone special.
I am Kieran Bridget O’Brien Kern. Power is literally my middle name. When my husband and I got engaged, we agreed that parenthood was a two-person job. I am the primary caregiver for our children, but we all work as a team. Since childhood, we have adapted and grown together. Every day there is a new challenge. Each new challenge is an opportunity to learn more about them and about myself.