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I am a huge fan of Dave Matthews Band.  I have been since I first heard their music in 1996.  And in recent years, going to their concerts has become one of the highlights for date nights for Dean and me.   (And if I have to be entirely honest, meeting him and his band members are also on our “bucket list”… just putting that out there, just in case anyone who reads this can pull some strings…!)

So, this past weekend, Dean and I made arrangements to go to the concert, booked a room downtown, and enjoyed a 24-hour date.  This is something we try to do every once in a while – which can be tricky when you live far away from family as we do.  Living in a different province exempts us from the proximity of built-in babysitters.

When our kids were young, we got to go out only if we were visiting family in Halifax or Edmonton – so essentially we got a “date night” once or twice a year.  I remember celebrating our 4th wedding anniversary with our first overnight away (Ethan was three and Audra was one – and my parents happened to be visiting)  We had a great time, and I remember noticing how Dean got my full and undivided attention – quite possibly for the first time in three years.  We were away for a wonderful 28 hours – during the last 4 of which I have to admit I was like a junkie wanting to get back to my babies.  But it made me realize how important it is for our relationship to spend quality time together, and how easy it can be to get caught up in the busyness of life, losing your connection in the process.  I did not want to be one of those people who wake up one day after their children have grown to realize that they no longer know the person they are married to.

We have always felt that an essential part in providing a loving home lies in keeping our relationship strong – a benefit to us, as well as to them.  It has always been important to us to that our children grow up in a home with parents who clearly love each other.  In much the same way that I feel it is healthy (and essential) to take care of ourselves individually to bring the best of who we are into our roles as mothers, wives, friends, etc – I feel it is healthy to take care of our marriage to provide the central strength to our family.  I believe a weak or neglected marriage weakens the whole family dynamic.

So, for us, having dates has become an important part of keeping this intact.  We try to plan a night out without kids once a month (a habit that admittedly we occasionally fall off track from)  This works best when we schedule it into our lives so that it doesn’t get lost in the passage of time.

Now that Ethan and Audra are older, we try to go away overnight several times a year, with the icing on the cake being the two times we have gone away entirely.  Once to Cuba for a week, and once on a 4-day cruise with friends.  Both times our parents travelled to Ontario to watch our children.  Admittedly, I miss my children when I am away from them.  But the time is glorious, exhilarating and wonderful.  It is good for me to be able to step out of my mommy role.  It is good for Dean and I to have fun enjoying each other’s company.  And while our children may indeed prefer us to always be home with them, we point out to them how fortunate they are to have parents who love each other and who want to spend time together.

I would like plan our time to include annual family travel, and annual travel with Dean.  Neither has to be elaborate – the idea is to get out of the daily routine, enjoy each other’s company, and to be the kind of relationship I would like my children to have for themselves one day.  It’s entirely a win-win situation.

And in the celebration of love, making a difference and working together – all things celebrated in one of Dave Matthew’s recent songs, Mercy – Enjoy!