Putting Baby First by Heather Bowles

I’ve read a handful of articles recently on the topic of balancing the health of the spousal relationship against the emotional well-being of our children, and it has become a timely discussion in a couple of the Facebook groups I participate in as well. It is timely because in eleven months of life, our daughter has never been left alone without at least one of her parents. Her father is so devoted, in fact, he routinely turns down invites from friends and family for simple “boys nights”, or even what we would have considered the most basic entertainment necessity in our pre-baby days: a Saturday afternoon matinee. Neither of us have seen a movie in a theater since before she was born!

Now, I’m not looking for sympathy. Far from it. We laugh and love more than I ever thought was possible. There comes a time, though, when the adults need a break, and we live too far from the rest of our family to ask a trusted babysitter for the purposes of a date night. So what is a couple to do? We’re learning to do things alone again.

When I was single, it was nothing for me to go to my favorite pizza stop on a Wednesday evening and order a sit down meal alone. I would take a local newspaper and plan my weekend around whatever seemed interesting in the advertisements. Sometimes I would invite a friend or two to join me, but I would end up walking a park trail or taking in a limited exhibit at a museum alone just as often.  My husband, being the social butterfly that he is, has not often done these things, and he finds it difficult now to allow himself the freedom to do them even when I tell him it is okay. He wants to be home with “his girls”, and although I’m sure he enjoys his family, I think there’s some guilt about leaving me alone to take care of the baby while he runs out to karaoke on a Friday night, because he’s away so much already between his school and work obligations.

This weekend though, there is a unique opportunity that I simply couldn’t allow him to pass up. The band he used to play with in Oklahoma City has a new singer and a new name, and they will be playing tonight in Tulsa. I’ve told him that he has NO excuse to turn down his former guitarist’s invite, because we’ve finally managed to get Tabitha on a mostly predictable sleep/wake cycle, and she’ll be long asleep before he even needs to leave the house. I’m hoping that a few hours out with old friends for cheap beer and looks at even cheaper women will relieve the stress he has suffered from his recent finals and political struggles in his workplace.

I believe that giving ourselves permission to cut loose once in a while will benefit Tabitha most of all. If mommy and daddy are happy, surely it is easier for baby to be happy also. Next Wednesday? I’m getting a copy of Tulsa Weekly. I’ve got an outing to plan.

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