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“You must be kidding!” she said, partly surprised and partly in disbelief.
The matter wasn’t that of life and death but looking at her expressions one would have concluded something very abnormal had just been mentioned. And I wish I could eat back my words, then. My non-Indian friend caught on my embarrassment (well I wasn’t ashamed of admitting it but her reaction kind of made me feel pathetic!) and quickly joked “tell your husband he cannot cave in like this”.
I was chatting with my neighbor at the community park and the conversation took an exciting turn when she declared about the couple’s weekend trip to a nearby Resort without the kids. Blushing over the ‘Oohs’ and ‘Aahs’ from the females present that time, she said she couldn’t wait to go (obviously, I mean we all love our children to death but who wouldn’t want to go on a trip without them once in a while; many of us don’t GET to go, is a different story!).
“I don’t remember the last time I went out without the kids even for a dinner date with my husband” I blurted out. And that is what earned me the first line of this editorial.
There are a number of excuses I could have given for denying myself this pleasure and in my mind I replayed them all, one by one .1) The Indian culture is different from the western side of the world. 2) We believe in putting our kids before everybody and everything else. 3) My kids are too young; they cannot survive even for a couple of hours without me 4) I cannot trust my children with anybody else. 5) I don’t need a date with my own husband. 6) I live in a nuclear family, it’s just us in the house, where is the need for privacy? 7) Our routine here (in the U.S) is neither hectic nor overly busy; I don’t really need a break. 8) Hiring a baby-sitter is an unnecessary expense because I am a stay-at-home Mom.
I could go on and on, but in the end I would just be kidding myself and nobody else.
To start with, I should toss aside the cultural disadvantage out of the window. We have this habit of using the Indian culture as an armor whenever it suits us. The truth, in my case (and I suspect in a million households in India too) is our life style is pretty much blended. Our wardrobes have a lot of traditional clothes but they are saved for special occasions, the routine attire is pretty much westernized. The kind of food found on our dining table depends on the day of the week. We alternate between a full Indian meal to pizza and pasta to sandwiches and soups and Chinese takeout, almost regularly. And as far as putting the kids first, I guess it is a universal phenomenon, but assuming that a couple of hours away are detrimental to them in anyways, is probably local to us.
Next, comes the question of my kids being too young and the resultant trust issues. They are young, but are not infants and they are definitely independent enough to fend for themselves for a short period of time under reliable adult supervision.
The parts hereon are all mixed up other than seeking a babysitter. True, it is just the four of us at home; there are no in-laws to escape. My husband works the normal 9 hours a day and is back home at a decent time. And the ‘I don’t need a date with my own husband’ is a line older than my grandma! Most of the urbanites even in India have shaken it off long ago.
Some would easily say that ‘dating’ itself is not an Indian concept but I would say, so wasn’t’ ‘freezing food’ but the latter has been adopted and prevails and so does the ‘date’ under various pretexts and different names.
In my humble opinion, everybody needs a date with their husband! For a marriage to be alive the fire of romance has to be burning and for that to happen, time alone with each other is a must.
Coming to the issue of hiring a baby-sitter, it has been raised frequently in conversations at home without any success. I don’t work outside of home, so you could say I am responsible for the care of my children full-time. Spending money on a job that I do day in and day out (free of cost!) seems improvident to us, in plain sight. But, only in plain sight.
To me, people like us need a trusted babysitter more than anybody else. People who live far away from their family, Couples who do not have the luxury of having grandparents around to babysit and give them that occasional break. Parents, who raise their children without an immediate (closely related) support system.
An alternative would be to leave the kids at a friend’s place and go out on a date, but I would rather save such favors for emergencies.
Now, the most relevant question here is, if I know that I deserve one and that help is just a phone call away (either in the form of a friend or a babysitter) what (or rather who) is stopping me from going on a date with my better half?
It is the “Dad” himself!
Long long ago, we did make plans to go out for dinner by ourselves. Our daughter sulked for hours before and just when we are about to leave, she planted herself in his lap, sad and teary eyed. She hugged him tight and in her sweetest voice implored “Don’t leave me Daddy, I miss you”.
Now that there are two of them, I fear double the resistance and a stronger tug at the ‘Dad’s’ heart. Maybe it is time to enforce some wifely authority or maybe not! What do you say? Have you been on a date lately?
*Photo credit: Chi Le.
An avid reader and a hobbyist writer, my sanity and survival depend entirely on the
Aah… so resonates my thoughts. It is so difficult to understand that doing something for a short duration is not detrimental to the child, and will also give me some fresh energy when I am back after those few hours.
Yep Aathira, but we got to convince ourselves first!
Nice article. But having grandparents or an extended family around is even worse, because you cannot make them understand the reason for taking a couple of hours off and away alone with your other half, while committing the sin of leaving your kid at home.
What you say may be true Arunima, I guess the grass is always greener on the other side! My view point came from my own childhood, when, I remember, my parents going for the last show of the night to watch a movie, leaving us with our extended family and I crib because I feel I will never have that choice here! BUT, having someone at home and yet not getting that freedom would probably feel worse!
Ketki – well, I was thinking like you until I saw my brother leaving his children & going out with his wife for 31st night or for one of their many anniversaries in a year! I liked their concept of letting children know that mum & dad love you but they love each other as well AND sometimes need to go out just on their own. Start announcing & stick to it (tears or no tears) and they will happily plan with you.
Luckily I have no children issue ;-)) they are on their own date! whether my husband is ready for date….is another story!!
For us, half the problem of “going” part is also “who” to leave them with. I am sure your brother left them at home with other family being present, it is leaving your kids with non-family which is quite the hard part!
My husband takes up this topic almost every weekend. He is very much Indian but when it comes to date nights he is totally westernized.Annually we go dating on V’day , anniv & our B’days. We have couple of trusted friends who are kind enough to help us but again I dont want to bother them every other weekend. But yes I do agree that we need time together for just two of us and there is nothing wrong in doing that.
Monika, your husband gets a big thumbs up from me!
Recently for the first time in two years,my husband and I went to watch a movie in a theater, leaving my son with friends. It was liberating to say the least, and so exciting to do something that we used to take for granted before we had kids. We returned the favour for our friends when they went out for dinner leaving their son with us. But its not something we can do very often, and yeah hiring a babysitter is something I am loath to do.
Guess, we are in the same boat ! We should reach out to friends for things like these too, after all, it is as important as anything else in life!
hi ladies, nice to see your conversation happy to volunteer myself into it. guys are really crazy we have to spend time with them once a while to make sure we love them a lot as we used to be before our kids were born. nowadys kids are quite matured enough to understand the responsibilities and they give us a space. we used to form a group of friends with kids of same age so they love to be with their friends and we get our privacy. the elder one among the kids will take care of the rest and hence it improves the relationship and solves the purpose
we sure are waiting for one of our kids to grow up and give us that break!
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