Let me set the stage for how most reunions with my husband go at the end of a regular work day. I’m in the kitchen making dinner. I see his truck pull into the driveway, and he walks through the door from the garage to the mud room. He is bombarded by little people who rush to greet him (finally, they are saved by the tyranny of mom and have nice dad home again). I try to ask him about his day but am interrupted by someone demanding a glass of water, a pot boiling over or a sibling pinching another. He tries to reciprocate the question and is yelling over the screaming of the one who has been pinched.
Hardly a time of real connection.
Some people call it the witching hour because it can be when everyone melts down, including mom. So instead of dreading this time of day, I’ve tried to make it a time I look forward to. When Derek gets home and the typical chaos is swirling around us, we simply look at each other and say, “Meet you on the porch.” He goes to change out of his work clothes. I finish the task at hand. We both grab a cold drink and head to the front porch. It’s our meeting spot, our attempt at connecting at the end of the day before we once again turn our attention to the four children who are constantly demanding it.
For this reason I save screen time. Or when the kids ride bikes or play in the gravel in the front. It is our date at home. Are we interrupted? About every 3.2 minutes. Do we get in quality conversation? Sometimes. Like everything and everyone in our family, it is an imperfect, organic, still developing process. This is not a formula for date nights at five, it is more fluid and adaptable, but rather a practice reflecting what we value as a couple – giving each other our attention.
It is meant to offer a connection point for the two adults in the house after eight hours apart. It has a higher purpose, it calibrates our family priorities. It reminds everyone, most especially our children, our marriage has a prominent place in the hierarchy of our family’s noise and demands. It is OKAY TO HEAR, “Not now. Mommy and Daddy are talking.” Because Mommy and Daddy’s relationship is not only important, it’s crucial to the health of our family.
Since it is summer, our spot these warm days is the front porch. But in other seasons we settle in the living room, or my husband sits across from me at the kitchen bar while I cook. We both know within minutes we’ll be distracted again by the jobs of parenthood and life. Jumping up from the dinner table to wipe up spilled milk, wrangling squirmy out of the bath, girls that need pajamas put on and late night work emails that demand our attention. But for just a few minutes every evening our family knows what it means when either my husband or I say, “Meet you on the porch.”
As a mom to four girls, ages 11, 8, 4 and 2, Alexandra Kuykendall is offered daily doses of the ludicrous and sublime. She is the author of this year’s MOPS International theme book, The Artist’s Daughter, A Memoir and is the Mom and Leader Content Editor for the organization. This means she reads a lot and writes when she can. But don’t be fooled by long and fancy titles, most of Alex’s days are spent washing dishes, driving to and from different schools and trying to find a better solution to the laundry dilemma. You can connect with her at AlexandraKuykendall.com.