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Jan 2 2013

My New Year’s Eve Glimpse of Life After Kids

By at 2:05 pm

Do you and your spouse ever wonder what kind of couple you will be “after?” I mean, after the children are grown, after they’re out of the house?

I can only vaguely remember what we were like in the early BC years of our marriage. I sometimes worry that we will become one of those couples that have nothing to say to each other. We’ve even joked about it–making references to scenes in movies, especially Citizen Kane–when we’ve found ourselves sitting across the dining room table in the rare silence of a Shabbat morning.

We remind ourselves to practice at being an AC couple. We insist on a “no talking about the kids” rule on our monthly date nights, but achieve only minimal success. In fact, date night often gets hijacked by a school function that has been scheduled on the same night that he is stuck working late.

For all of these reasons–the worry, the jokes, and the date night attrition–I am more than a little relieved to report that I have seen the future, and my glimpse of the AC years was illuminating.

Just a few weeks shy of our 21st wedding anniversary, my spouse and I spent New Year’s Eve alone, at home, while our three children slept at friends’ houses. We ate dinner by candlelight, the meal prepared lovingly by the family cook while the family driver shuttled kids across town in the rain. He planned a simple menu of food for the more sophisticated adult palate and set the dining room table so that I would sit in our son’s usual space, right next to him. He served the meal French Style rather than Family Style. I poured the wine.

We discovered that we could speak softly without being interrupted. It was so quiet in the house.

“Maybe we’ll be one of those couples that rekindle the romance after the kids leave the house,” he said as we cleared the table.

I made some coffee while he plated the dessert. We laughed about skipping coffee and going to sleep before midnight. The ritual of watching the ball drop feels less obligatory in AC life.

On January 1st, I return to my usual seat at the table and in the car. My 10-year-old is in the back seat–the combination of his late-night revelry and the rhythmic sound of the windshield wipers threaten to lull him to sleep. My 15-year-old describes her experience of staying up past midnight as no great accomplishment: “At midnight, we were just getting started. I mean, we stay up that late doing homework on an ordinary school night. When I went to bed it was just getting light outside. It was fun.”

I can remember being a teenager. I, too, used to think that staying up all night was fun. Now I toss and turn, battling middle-aged insomnia and dreaming of sleeping late after I retire from my job behind the wheel.

“Did you and Abba stay awake until midnight?”

“We did,” I tell her. “We had a quiet dinner, played Scrabble, and watched a movie. Then we watched the ball drop and went to bed. It was fun.”

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