The universal misconception on the part of children is that parents have no life of their own. Exacerbating this is the very real feeling many of us have when we first become parents, that yes, we actually don’t have a life anymore. And after you get over that shock (it takes 6 to 12 months on average*) you realize that if you are to survive this parental game with any shred of sanity–although when I look at my family tree, I doubt that’s even possible–you have to redefine what “having a life” really means. In our house, it’s hip to be square.
*An impressive-sounding statistic I totally made up.
What secrets do you keep from your kids? Does anyone know there’s frozen chocolate banana swirl coming out of the food processor at 9 p.m.?** That Star Trek Voyager plays to popcorn on the couch (though in the daylight you are known to shout “NO EATING ON THE COUCH!”)? That Mommy watches ‘princess shows’ too? (We’re in Season 2 of Victoria over here.)
**One frozen banana, 1 tablespoon peanut butter, 2 tablespoons cocoa powder. Go.
It’s true, we’re broke and we’re nerds, so our secret life these days is making desserts that we don’t share and watching way more screen time than they’re allowed. But it’s ours. And if we didn’t have it, I’m not sure how well we would survive
After eight years as husband and wife, we’ve learned a little bit about the importance of spending time together. With the kids to act as one big giant distraction (I just waved a grubby hand clutching a three-year-old Christmas card out of my face while typing the preceding clause) our marriage would surely suffer if we didn’t have a few secrets together.
Sometimes after bedtime we just sit side-by-side reading. Often we’re chatting about our day while cleaning–not the most fun, but at least we’re working together. We’ve been known to play chess, but one of us is too impatient and a poor loser. Sometimes we play cards. This is actually from when we were younger, even broker nerds who were dating. We would order cheap Chinese and play cards, and I’d relieve him of all his laundry money.
But besides the secret treats, the other “secret” we have from the children is that we are actively tag-teaming protecting each other from … them. Their sweet little antics are adorable and amazing, but boy does Mommy or Daddy need a break, like, daily. (Actually, Daddy goes to work all day so he only gets a home break from the kids about twice a week.)
In order to keep our marriage and our minds healthy, we take turns orchestrating time off for the other on a regular basis. Usually this means that Daddy will babysit so Mommy can escape the house or write or take a hot bath without a toy seaplane and submarine and a tugboat. It also means Mommy will occupy the brood while Daddy gets a weekend nap, or throw on a movie so the brood can occupy itself while Mommy and Daddy nap together.
We have some separate interests, but we try to face all of our joys and challenges together. That, we hope, is not a secret to our children.