Plural Dating

When Alyson and I married twenty-three years ago we were the youngest of adults, both a few months past our twenty-second birthday.  From our vantage point now, I would say we were kids at the altar.

Now, we have kids of our own, and with each passing day they live closer to their adult years than their childhood ones.

My sweet wife is now the shortest member of the family. Again.

And while that may seem like a strange way to begin a tome about our most recent Tired Date, a double with fun friends, I know of no other way than to name the overwhelming context of our lives right now: time flies.  And it is scary.

It’s true.  We are afraid.  Granted, we love Jesus.  We pray to God.  We worship regularly.  And as yet, we haven’t found the magic button that eliminates our fist clenching frustration at bouncing checks.  We lament some of our dreams more apt to be crossed off the list than realized, much less attempted.  Our career angst is palpable.  Our retirement plans are but a whiff of smoke in a wind tunnel.  And the kids, well, we have never been here before, raising a middle school-er, a high school-er, and a collegian at the same time, so wondering if we are doing it right is a daily question.

So while you may think our double date with Chris and Lisa A. was just that, a momentary diversion from the rote survival of every day, think again.  In a way, it was salvation, and I do mean the eternal kind.  See, without divulging any of their stuff, I will tell you here that doing life with people who are walking a similar path is not only a good idea, but essential to health.  And that is Gospel, because at its very core it is communal.  The best marriages I know aren’t lived in a vacuum, but rather, in community.

With Chip and Jo…we had no idea how tired we would all be twenty three years later.

Comfort of any kind starts with the elimination of loneliness.  I cannot imagine doing life without dear couples that have accepted our invitation to live seasons with us and have invited us to do the same.

While I won’t list the brilliant names of friends dating back to 1989, I will say an existential ‘thank you’ to all of them by way of thanking Chris and Lisa for going to dinner and a movie with us while embodying the spirit of what we love in all our dearest friends: authenticity.

And Chris, in closing, I do want to thank you for an act of friendship that no man, let alone any person, has ever provided me.  When I was looking at our photos from Saturday night, I noticed a special gesture on your part.  While I took the picture at the movie theater, you placed your hand on my seat to keep it warm.

Real men keep their buddy’s seat warm

Wow. No fear, a tad creepy, but oh so authentic.  Thanks man.

Don’t Mess with Jess(e)

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109 Degree Date…by Aly

It’s all worth it.

After missing our date in May I felt like we really needed to do something special and different.  So I thought I would beat Kevin to the punch for a over the top romantic (within a tight budget) date for June. I had no idea what to do, and then the miracle of television provided an answer. I somehow caught a commercial for Clausen’s Inn on between folding laundry and Yoga Booty Ballet.  A weekend package included dinner at our favorite restaurant, champagne and strawberries, and, of course, breakfast.  Father’s Day was coming up, we still had not been on a June date, and I wasn’t about to buy him the yard yeti he wanted at the local garden store!

He really wants one…in OUR yard!

On Father’s Day I rolled up the reservations with a gold ribbon and presented my grand date gesture.  Surprise!  I hit a homerun!  He wasn’t expecting it at all.  Yay, me!  I can do this romantic thing… I just can’t keep it up very long; my pragmatic tendencies naturally come out.  Like many women in the “mommy mode,” I am good at survival, meeting basic needs, thinking of worst-case scenarios, and planning for disasters, or dinner, whichever comes first.  But I can do “romantic” for a day.

We made our date for June 29th, just under the wire.  Whew, back on good “Tired Dating” schedule.  Even the heat wasn’t going to stop this romantic night.  Columbia hit a record 109 on Friday which meant the “loft” room I reserved was a tad warm upon check-in… the thermostat in our sweet retreat room read 90..  We ended up moving to a smaller but cooler room.  Adapt.  And move on.  Good mommy’s do that.

I highly recommend overnight dates!  Even just a few miles from home.  You can truly get away from all the things that pull you in opposite directions from your spouse.  You can focus on each other and stay in “date mode” longer.  After champagne and strawberries, we walked to the restaurant from the hotel, had a lovely meal, and enjoyed the stroll back afterward.  No getting in the car and driving home to kid chaos.

Ellie Kate is a Squatch. Jake has a box on his head. And GA is just done. Mommy radar is always on.

I have to admit I was still checking on the kids until I knew they were all safe at home for the night.  The mommy radar is always on and maybe that is what has promoted my pragmatic mode for all these years; but every once in a while I can push that mommy out of the way and support my inner romantic.  If you are a mommy, and you are tired, that means you need a date too.  Just do it.

Bring me your tired, huddled married couples…

I slept soooo good last night!

I'm sleeping on the inside.

Back in the Pleistocene Era of our marriage when  there was plenty of time and energy to devote to the planning and execution of Valentine’s Day, we devoted time and energy to Valentine’s Day.

Alyson called me this afternoon at four thirty.  Was I picking up Ellie Kate from track practice, and if I wasn’t, could I?   Aly had just touched down at home to cook dinner.  “I don’t want to get back out. Please?”

“And I need you to go to the grocery.”  I obliged, begrudgingly and sweetly.  I have my paycheck on direct deposit with Publix, which is a huge time saver.

“And, Ellie Kate absolutely positively must be picked up no later than ten minutes after five because the track coach will not, let me repeat, will not wait around for parents who fail to manage their lives with less precision than NOAH Weather Radio.”

I think I said something like “shut your yabber gabber” before I pledged my love and hung up the phone.  And, I was there on time, along with a full parking lot of middle age parental lovers anxious for tomorrow’s Valentine’s throw down.  I rolled past one Volvo blaring premature Barry White.  Of course, Coach Stopwatch ended pratice late, which made my mad dash to the grocery all for naught.  If I had known I had an extra ten minutes I would have cherished my stroll down aisles ten and two looking for taco seasoning and tortilla chips.  I take my alone time when I gets it.

After dinner Alyson and I played seventeen rounds of Rock, Paper, Napalm to see who won the prize of driving one of our offspring (who shall remain nameless) back to our vacation home to purchase a card and box of candy for their special valentine.  Alyson won.  I was the gracious loser.  Maybe fate will shine upon me tomorrow and I will go to the grocery THREE times!

Ahh tomorrow…that special day of romance and devotion.  Ellie Kate has a doctor’s appointment at two o’clock, and Jake is getting a cavity filled at two-forty.  Then its track and play practice for both, a frozen pizza dinner and homework somehow, and decorating for Ellie Kate’s birthday, which is Wednesday.  Thank God Grace Ann moved out last year to art school…its the nicest thing she has ever done for Alyson and me.

But at least Aly and I will be able to go out and have dinner with each other tomorrow night, stealing a few moments amidst the craziness.  Good idea anyway.  We waited too late to make reservations.  Fleur De Lys is booked tomorrow night.  Go figure.

Our Valentine’s date will happen on February 21.  It might be a little anticlimactic, but at least we get to go to the grocery nine more times between now and then.

Happy Valentine’s Day ya’ll.  Good marriages and relationships are forged in the everyday events anyway.  Aly and I love each other, and we love our kids, just like God loves us.  Always, and forever.  No matter what the calendar says.