I remember going out for an early Sunday dinner with the family a couple of years ago.
The young straight couple sitting at a table near us looked exhausted; their 4-month-old baby in the car seat between them was to blame. Since the boy’s birth, the mom and dad hadn’t had any parents-only time.
During our first months as dads, Ferd and I discovered that a regular night out, a special date night just for the two of us, contributed greatly to our sanity. It's been six years and we still hold on to them as a way to dedicate time to keep our focus on each other, even if for just a few hours every couple of weeks.
How do we typically spend our precious dads-only time during date night?
We talk about our kids. How will Levi adjust to our move this summer? Will Sadie make it through the last month of school without getting called to the principal's office? Will Ella be able to overcome her developmental delays in time to enroll in the next grade along with her twin sister?
We talk about our kids with people we’ve just met. Since we both work from home on Gays With Kids, Ferd and I spend a lot of time together. So when we go out on date nights we like to sit at a restaurant’s bar, where we often start talking to patrons sitting nearby. The best way to find common ground? We talk about kids. Our kids. Their kids.
We look at pictures and videos of our kids. We kvell as we show each other our newest photos taken during the past week or two: the pirate show they put on for us last night, the kids huddled together in our bed to watch Paw Patrol or three messy faces covered in chocolate.
We ponder what our lives will be like as dads of pre-teens and teens. Our kids are 6 and 7, so we still have several years to go before the arrival of puberty and the chaos likely to attend on it. Even so, I can begin to feel the gnawing sense of panic that is sure to become a part of my every day life once they enter puberty. I hope that by talking about it now I’ll somehow be a little more prepared to cope with the monsters that my kids will become.
We wonder how our kids will look back at their childhood. Thinking about puberty leads me to start imagining our kids as the adults they’ll become, and how the adult versions of our children will recall their childhood.
We admit that we’re missing the kids. I don’t know if it's the three glasses of wine or thinking about a future with grown-up kids living independent lives, but by the end of dinner we both admit that we can't wait to get back home to see Levi, Ella and Sadie. They'll each be asleep and none of them wakes easily, but that won't stop us from giving out a final round of good-night kisses while whispering how much we love them. Then we'll saunter off to bed where we'll fall asleep in each other's arms.