When you are taking care of three children, whether alone or with a partner, it is a daunting task. You love them, you love caring for them, and you are willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish these tasks. It is challenging yet rewarding, frustrating yet enjoyable, and demanding. Every so often, a parent just needs a break. It does not have to be much – just some time to feel less like a parent and more like a person. At this base, the child development programs run a “Parent’s Night Out” once a month. They are held at the child development center and the youth center, and they are four hours long. When your spouse is deployed, your children can attend these nights for free. Yes, FREE. If there are perks to a deployment, this would be one of them.
Tonight was the first “Parent’s Night Out” that the kids have attended since Andy left. I really needed the space, and the girls love going to these. I happily dropped them off and made plans for dinner with my friend Erin. We went to a Chinese restaurant here (I know what you’re thinking – you live in Italy and you go for Chinese? But even I need a break from Italian food). We sat there for over two hours, eating and just talking about all kinds of things. It was not fancy or anything, and it was wonderful. I enjoyed being with a friend but more than that, I enjoyed some time that did revolve around diapers, separating fighting children, or forcing vegetables to be eaten. I laughed, I ate, and for those few hours, I felt like myself again. The girls played with friends, ate snacks, and Anya’s group even roller-bladed tonight!
My point is that everyone needs a break, especially when life is more stressful. It is nice to have these nights, even if only once a month, that are provided for me so I can relax. I feel fortunate that this program is in place here. I pick up my girls feeling refreshed and like a better parent. It is nice to have a “date night” with a friend who helps me forget how hard life is right now and talks to me even about the stupid things. It is great to have a friend who understands what you are going through, and military friends are the best at this. Most importantly, I was able to take a breather from parenting and life in general.
I look forward to next month’s “Parent’s Night Out,” and so do the girls!