Man, Sarah--I was doing so well at rewarding your patronage there for a while; but as of late, I just have not had a thought in my head. This is the best I can scrape out:
So my ward is having a Valentine's dance. It was originally going to be just for couples, but at the last minute, they decided to make it for the whole family. And I have to admit that I was a bit dissappointed. (In fact, I think I will likely STILL try to find a babysitter for my kids.) I mean, I think it's totally reasonable to have a few activities every now and then that are just for adults, and Valentine's Day seems like the perfect occasion for one. But anyway, this situation has me wondering about something I have wondered about many a time before: Why are some people hesitant to get a babysitter? It seems like I know more than a few couples who rarely leave their kids with a babysitter in order to have a date together, and I just cannot understand it. Over the past year or so I have seen so many instances where there has been this awkwardness surrounding the question of whether or not kids should be invited to certain parties/get togethers. To me, there is absolutely nothing wrong with leaving your kids behind in order to enjoy a night out with your spouse. In fact, I think it is a necessity that couples do so. And yet, so often I hear couples asking, "Can we bring the kids?" I think part of me is jealous because being away from my kids at times is something I NEED in order to stay mentally healthy, preserve the 'magic' in my relationship with Brian, and be the best mother I can be. Seriously. When I come back from a date, I come back a better mother--one that is again ready to adore and take care of my kids; one whose patience lasts a bit longer and whose compassion goes a bit further. So I wonder, do mothers who never get babysitters just not need the break that I need? Are they just naturally more patient and kind and long suffering? Are their kids just better behaved? Are they just able to maintain the spark in their marriages without ever getting away? I don't know. And you know what? I am totally willing to respect and appreciate couples who prefer to always have their kids with them, but I do not think it is fair or appropriate for any of us to complain when the kids are not invited, or to ask if we can bring our kids when it is clear that the purpose of the occasion is for adults. Now don't misunderstand me. I think it is TOTALLY important for families to spend a lot of quality, fun time together. In fact, I think that "wholesome recreational activities" really do make up a good part of the glue that holds a strong family together. However, I also feel like it is crucial that couples spend time together away from their kids. And yes, I know there are times when it would be better to insist on taking our kid(s) with us--namely, we live in a town of only child molesters, we JUST moved to town and therefore do not know anyone well enough to ask them to babysit, we can barely afford to put food on the table--let alone pay a babysitter...and the list goes on. And I totally get that. I have been there before. And as you know, Brian and I do not have parents, siblings, etc., living here whom we can ask to babysit. However, I think it is our responsibility as parents to do what we can to create a situation where it will be feasible for us to get a babysitter every now and then. This might mean cutting out some fast food in order to afford a babysitter, or making a bunch of phone calls in order to find out which youth enjoy babysittng and come recommended, or GETTING to know other couples and then setting up babysitting swaps. It might mean that we have to put forth a significant effort, but I think it's important. I also know that it is hard to leave our kids a first time..and a second...and a third. But soon we realize (and so do our kids) that it is not the end of the world for us to be separated. And since I no longer seem to be having any trouble thinking of things to say, let me add this: that it is totally wrong (in my opinion) to ask someone to babysit for free if you will not be giving them the same (or another equally valuable) service in return. So there.
Oh yeah. I need to say that young nursing babies are fair game when it comes to bringing them along to otherwise adultish activites. Does everyone agree?
Also, please do not worry about the welfare of my kids' upcoming Valentine holiday. I have treats prepared for them and we will be making treats to give away, so they WILL get to share in the festivities, and they will also likely receive the valuable reassurance that mom and dad love each other so much that they make it a point to spend time together--alone.