“Wanna go on a date? Just the two of us?”
I have asked this question to my son many times…but not lately. Ever since the baby was born, almost 7 months ago, we haven’t been on a single date. My 4 year old is the oldest of three. He has a 2 year-old sister and a baby brother. He is incredibly intelligent, passionate, caring and helpful. He is also quick to anger, highly emotional and spirited. He feels everything at a more intense level than most and loves deeply with all his heart. When his sister was born 2 1/2 years ago and he was quickly demoted as the only child, we began going on ‘dates’. From simple to elaborate we would leave the house, hand in hand, relishing in our freedom, neither one of us caring much about where we went as long as we were together. Another year or so passed and I got pregnant again. The new baby was born and he quickly became my big boy, my helper, the one that I counted on to behave and not make any more work for me than I needed. He loves his younger siblings more than I ever thought possible, and I know without a shadow of a doubt he would never trade them in to regain ‘only child’ status. That said, he has gotten jipped. Placed on the back burner. Yesterday was Thanksgiving, which meant that Daddy was home. My 4 year old spent most of the day screaming that Daddy wasn’t giving him any attention, despite the fact that they played all day. I often recognize his cries for help, let him know that I hear him and validate his feelings. But so often I feel helpless. There is one of me and three of them. And let’s face it, when none of your children go to sleep on their own OR sleep through the night…patience is hard to come by. This morning when I woke up, I asked my boy one of his favorite questions.
“Hey, do you wanna go on a date? Just the two of us?”
I saw the twinkle in his eye, I felt the excitement creep out of his skin. He asked me if I could carry him as a special treat. I carried my big 4 year old to the car, it seemed his toes were nearly dragging on the ground. When did he get so big? We decided to go to IHOP as a treat, since we are a gluten free household. In the booth he cuddled up next to me, took out his crayon, and we worked on his activity placemat together. As I looked at the side of his face while he focused on the maze before him, I noticed a scratch on his cheek. I began scanning his face, looking at details as if I had forgotten who he was and needed to re-learn every inch of him. I noticed that the freckles on his nose and cheekbones extended all the way to his temples, fading into his coarse brown hair. Where was my baby? He leaned into me and while maintaining focus on his maze, whispered “I love you.”
In that moment, I realized that I hadn’t yet said his name followed by a sigh of disapproval. I hadn’t given him ‘the look’ across the table that non-verbally communicated “stop that right now, you know you aren’t allowed to do that”. He was perfect in every way. When did I become so out of touch? How could I not know that he had freckles on his temples? After our meal, he gathered the check and asked for money so he could pay for our date. We stood and his head came above my belly button…when did he get so tall? I watched as he paid for our meal, chatted with the cashier, and asked to be carried one last time. As soon as we got to the car, a downpour of tears, emotions and regret flooded my face. I took a deep breath and gave my boy a big hug. He asked my why I was crying and I explained to him that I know that it’s hard for both of us to have to take care of his siblings. That sometimes I don’t spend enough time with him, or pay quality attention to him even if I am ‘with’ him. I promised him that we would go on more dates, even if we just took a ride in the car together and listened to music. He assured me that he would like that.
That is why I date my son.
With the birth of his sister 4 months ago, one-on-one time with my son is not frequent enough. As baby grows, I’ll be making more time to do this with him!
Jules ruud says
I love this post. I fully plan on going on dates with my kids. One on one time is so special. I also need to learn to squeeze in dates with my hubby. I need to work on all my dates.
Sue Lively says
Katie – this was absolutely beautifully written. It brought tears to my eyes and although I can’t understand what it’s like to have to split my time between children (I have one son – also 4) – I totally understand the feelings of surprise at how fast they grow and totally understand your searching your son’s face to memorize every detail – been there many times. What a gift they are to us.
Thank you so much for reading, it really does fly by. Such a gift 🙂
Every word impacted me. Not only is the message and heart of this stunning but how you wrote it was too. I’m a mess of years because I relate so much. I love EVERY SINGLE WORD YOU WROTE and the entire sentiment ❤️❤️❤️ thank you for this ❤️
Thank you so much for your support. I had to make sure I wrote it as soon as I got home while I was still really feeling it lol
What a great idea! I’m actually going on a Mommy and C date today! Shopping, lunch, haircut, and a movie 🙂 Daddy is studying for a test so we thought we’d make the day of it! I love that you recognized exactly what he needed. Quality time on is probably his love language
Love that! Hope you guys had a great time!
I’d love for my husband to “date” our son. They don’t get as much one on one as he and I do and I would love it if they did. I’m going to share this with the Mister and see if we can’t get something planned soon.
What a beautiful post. “Dating” our children is a wonderful way to spend undistracted time with them and build lasting connections and special memories that can last a life time.
Thanks for much for reading 🙂
YES! I love planning dates from Hudson and I. I have been doing this since he was little and he loves it. (esp after Mila came along!)
Im sure he loves that time with you!
Katie @ Mom to Mom Nutrition says
I’ve never thought to do this but you’ve inspired me to make it a point in the new year to take both kids on their own “dates” so they have something special with both mom and dad! More often than not the whole crew goes on outings… but I can see how 1:1 time is so special!
Aw Im so happy, Im sure you will love the time with them as well! Thanks for reading!
Jennifer Corter says
This is beautiful. They grow up so fast, so “dating” your son is such a wonderful thing to do!
Thanks for reading!
Katie, this hit me all in the feels today. I had tears in my flippin’ eyes the second I read your title. So on point with me right now, too, and I really needed to read this. Thanks for the awesome post 🙂
Thank you so much for reading and for your kind words 🙂
Oh that is SO true, thanks for reading!