Monday, July 20, 2009

Date Night: A Wise Investment

The older and more involved we become in our own lives, the easier it is to forget the most basic needs of others. This past weekend, I was made aware of something I suspected for some time. My second child, Dakota, is in need of my attention. Until the birth of my third child, Danica, Dakota was the baby. She received a lot of love from both her mother and I. My oldest child, Darius, is ten and he had it good for about 7 years.

While all the kids need parental love, I realized that each one of my three kids starve for our unwavering attention. As the size of my family grows, I found that I began looking at them as a group, not as individuals. My perception was not intentional, it just happened. Of course, I called them all by name and love them with all that I have, but something was missing. I knew that fact and so did this wise old black woman working in Wal-mart's eyeglass shop.

While my son looked for new spectacles, I was sitting down holding my youngest, Danica. Dakota kept running around the store touching stuff. Finally, I asked her to stand near me until we were ready to leave the store. As she stood near me, she started crying. I suspected it was because I would not let her run free. At some point, Erica took the baby and Dakota found her way on my lap and nuzzled her face into my chest. Surprisingly, she remained relaxed and quiet for the duration of our time in the shop.

The older black lady, who sat at the desk reading a newspaper, looked up from her paper and said, "That's where she wanted to be, with Daddy." That very comment sent my brain into overdrive. I knew middle children acted out because of their need for attention, but it did not dawn on me to actually do something about it. That is until last night.

I decided to take Dakota grocery shopping with me. Do understand I hardly ever take my kids shopping, unless all of them are with me. On occasion, I will take Darius to assist with the bags, but that is it. Last night, I asked Dakota if she wanted to go with me. Happily, she put her shoes on and skipped to the car. It was at that moment that I found myself a bit lost for words.

It was a weird moment for me because here we are just her and I. We sat in the car, alone, which we never do. I felt like it was my first date. I kept looking at her to ensure she was comfortable. Was there too much wind from the window? Was she having a good time? What do I talk about?

After ten minutes or so, the jitters wore off and I just enjoyed our time together. She was a perfect little angel. She never cried and she was very helpful with the groceries. We had a great time singing songs in the store, looking at live lobsters, and laughing aloud. From the looks of things, my three-year-old daughter loved it too. In fact, she gave me a kiss and told me that she loved me. It nearly brought tears to my eyes.

The ride home from the store was quiet. I looked back to find her sleeping in her car seat. Once home, I laid her in her bed and allowed her to finish her afternoon nap.

Later that night, after she awoke, there was a moment, a look perhaps, where she communicated a continued connection. It felt as though she understood that we had our own adventure, separate from adventures we have as a family. It was special because it was our moment together, no competition. It was just us. I loved it!

Today, I am a convert. I finally understand why date nights are so important and appreciate the opportunity to experience it for myself. So, if you are in a similar situation where you have a family, I say take time to share precious moments alone with your loved ones. If you have children, husband/wife, or girlfriend/boyfriend, take each one out individually and enjoy their company. Date night does not require an expensive restaurant or exciting event, but rather a savored moment alone.

Well, that is it. Give date night a try today and let me know how it goes. Until next time...

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Damond L. Nollan, M.B.A.

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