My husband and I moved here with one dog, a baby bump and no support system, and are leaving here with two dogs, two kids under three, and a village of hand-selected family. We have not, however, had a babysitter for the popular “first night out kid-free” milestone yet. And this has been by choice – one that is usually met with glares of shock.
I do think it’s a mindset we were prone to being in the military, growing our family in a string of different locations away from family, ready to carry it all on our shoulders. That’s not the real reason, though, as plenty of military families find that kind of support system with each move. For us, with a 2-year old and 7-month old, we just haven’t had the desire to hand them off like that … yet.
I have given birth two times in the past 2.5 years. I have been recovering. We have been bonding.
More than that, hiring a babysitter has not even crossed our minds as a want. There have been times, as a military family, that it has been a need. It would be nice to not have to re-schedule my dentist and hair appointments because my husband’s flight schedule rules all, but those occasional needs haven’t been frequent enough to warrant dishing out the dough for a nanny or enlisting hourly care.
Instead, we have focused on building a village. We have connected deeply with other new parents in the same phase of life as us, and that has filled our cups greatly.
Our backstory likely fuels the way we experience this first chapter of parenthood. Of our first two years dating, we only saw each other a whopping 33 days. We finally synced up timezones and lived together for 12 months before enduring two more 7-month deployments, squeezing a wedding in-between. We missed much of our first year of marriage, and he came home just in time for us to thaw the top tier of our frozen wedding cake. We caught up on honeymoon-ing, got pregnant and moved across the country with the blessing of shore duty – which means we finally have had a chance, for the first time in the entirety of our near decade relationship, to establish this thing called home.
The travel, fancy date nights and time alone that so many new parents crave – we did that. That was all we ever did. When becoming parents collided with this opportunity to be home, it was this amazing time of normalcy and calm. We both wanted to be home with our babies.
No date night out could give us the same comfort we have found in snuggling up on our first couch that we bought once our oldest started crawling – dark brown for fingerprints of course. And no restaurant-cooking could compare to the fun I found in finally teaching myself how to make something other than pasta. This is my family. We are new, and I know we won’t always feel this way as we enter new phases of life. But the fact that we have felt this way thus far is no less valid than other couples whose babysitter is on speed dial.
The thing is, for some of us, at certain points of our lives, home is exactly the break that we need.