Date night? What’s that? It’s usually a rare occasion that I get enough time to get ready for a night out with the hubby. Normally, our romantic evenings consist of flopping on the couch at the end of the night exhausted and barely able to stay awake through whatever reality show competition is on that night. To keep things interesting, every few months I make an effort to ditch my jeans and ratty T-shirt and shower (and if I’m really bringing sexy back I’ll shave my legs too!), to go on a date night. My marriage is very important and even though we can’t spend tons of time just the 2 of us, it’s important to have these little dates together to reconnect with each other.
As everyone is well aware, being the parents of a child with special needs is challenging when child care is involved. I can’t call the local neighborhood teenager to come and sit with them while Dad and I go out to dinner. My son’s needs are far too complex for that. Along with having autism and being nonverbal, my son has type 1 diabetes, seizure disorder and Hashimoto’s disease. For this reason, there are only 2 or 3 family members that I would actually trust enough to watch my son. They have to know how to use a glucometer, inject insulin, and how to use emergency medication if my son has a seizure or a low blood sugar. They have to know what foods he’s allowed to have and what he can’t have. Is it any wonder we don’t have many family members chomping at the bit to watch the kids?
It’s a lot of work and that’s why we don’t go out very often. I feel guilty about leaving sometimes too. Who better to take care of my son’s needs than his Mom? Because he’s nonverbal, you have to know what bothers him and what doesn’t, something as simple as putting his cup in the wrong spot may trigger a meltdown. Whenever we do plan to go out we make things easier by going out after my son’s 5 p.m. insulin injection after his GF dinner and then get home before he’s due for his evening seizure medicine dose. With all this juggling it’s no wonder that I’m usually exhausted before we even step foot out the door.
Date Night this time is movie night. I really wanted to go see The Hunger Games and since it was my turn to pick (it really was hubby’s turn but he forgot that I dragged him to see Breaking Dawn for the last movie night), off we went and headed out for Date Night. The theater is about a 10-minute car ride away so we’re close by should there be any emergency that we have to rush home for. I usually call home once we get to the theater and let them know what theater we’re in just in case I can’t get cell reception in the theater and the ushers would know where to find us. Neurotic I know, but I like to have all my bases covered just in case. The whole time during the movie, I sit with cell phone in hand, set to ring and vibrate, so if there’s an emergency, I’ll be ready.
With one hand on the cell phone and one hand in the popcorn bucket (diet be damned today!) the movie starts. I love the movies. It’s a 2-hour escape into a different reality. Since I was very young, books were my escape. I would get lost in the characters and stories. When my husband and I were dating as teenagers, we would spend entire Saturdays hopping from one movie to the next, enjoying each other’s company more than anything else. Now 20 years later, these little moments we have together remind me of why I fell in love all those years ago. Plus the fact that he sits through chick flicks with me definitely seals the deal!
As we head up the driveway back home, back to the chaos that awaits, back to the endless blood glucose testing, insulin injections, timed supplements, sleepless nights, back to seizures and back to autism, it makes me think how important it is to cherish these little moments that we have together and not to take each other or our relationship for granted. Our life is difficult without question, as it is for so many families caring for someone who is medically, physically or behaviorally challenged. That’s why these Date Nights that we have together are so important. It’s an opportunity for us to connect and strengthen our foundation as husband and wife and give our family a stronger foundation. Being Warrior Moms and Dads is exhausting and being frazzled comes with the territory, but even Warriors need a little break sometimes.