Date Night

A friend and fellow special needs mom informed us that she was coming over to watch the kids so that Brandon and I could grab a quiet dinner together.

She came over, we put the kids to bed, and the three of us ended up talking for over an hour about our struggles in parenting and learning to trust God with our children. Her son is now in his late teens, and we wanted to glean every morsel of wisdom she could offer. Just as we were heading out she said something that we’ve heard and read a million times, but tonight it was sticking: “You must make your marriage a priority. Promise me you’ll do this.”

Brandon and I split a pizza and then stopped at an ice cream shop. I felt young and light again, remembering days when we would sit in the car and talk and laugh and slurp down two scoops of cookies-n-cream with marshmallow topping.

We got home after 10 p.m. (yeah, we’re party animals), and not surprisingly Rhema was still awake, crashing and banging around in her room. While I said goodnight to Joanne, Brandon went up to check on Rhema.

A moment later I heard him say, “Um, she’s had another… accident.” (‘Accident’ is a euphemism, of course. Rhema’s digestive system has been on the fritz lately. If we don’t get to her in time, fecal smearing ensues.) Not again. I’d just cleaned up a mess hours before.

Nice conclusion to our last date night in a long while, I thought, as we cleaned the child and the floors. This is not what I imagined when we said ‘I do.’ But there we were on hands and knees, side by side, scrubbing the gross stuff out of the wood floor. It was rather romantic.

Instead of retreating to our own corners, I think we’re finally learning how to protect one another in all of this.

The cute, curly haired, half-naked girl escaped down the stairs. Brandon got to the kitchen just in time to find her holding an orange and wielding a steak knife. When I came down, the two of them were sitting at the table at 11 o’clock at night eating an orange together.

For once, I was not tired or frustrated or upset about Rhema being up too late. They were too cute. 

I just cherished them.


Shanda writes wonderful reflections on marriage in a series called Marital Moments.

17 thoughts on “Date Night

  1. Jeneil, before Scott and I married, both our parents pulled us aside and swore that the secret to their marriage was “Date Night.” My parents have been married 46 years despite an extra marital affair. Scott’s parents just celebrated 50 years. (They are the third generation to reach 50 years. I want us to reach 50 to keep the tradition running. However, since Scott was 40 when we married, he doesn’t think he’ll he around for our 50th. If he is, he says, “Promise me you’ll wipe the drool from my mouth if we make it to our 50th anniversary.” )

    His parents are believers, mine are not. However, my parents are moral. They’ve both been brought up by believing parents. My parents are the perfect example of what our pastor calls. “We are only three generations away from losing the gospel.”

    I’m convinced that my grandparents are believers. However, my grandparents did not do a good job of explaining why they believe what they believer and why the do the things they do.

    Scott and I discovered on our own why we worship the Living God. However, our siblings don’t understand the reason to continue “the ritual.” And the third generation doesn’t understand the “ritual” and have rejected it.

    Because my parents are moral, they were willing to suffer the four hours of Jonathan’s screaming so that Scott and I could focus on our marriage. Because Scott’s parents are believers, they understand that their relationship to each other outlasts all other…children in the house, parents, siblings, and friends. We are blessed by both our parents’ belief in the marriage as the center of a family.

    Please, please, please remember that your relationship to
    Brandon is the key to the success of your daughters in the world. Guard your date night…even if it is only once a month.

  2. damn it, AGAIN

    again i sit here fighting back tears

    again i am moved

    again i am reminded of just why i adore you and yours

  3. Hold that picture of them together like that close to your heart. I sometimes don’t mine when one or the other stays up late because then I get to enjoy them alone at the end of the day. I’m glad you got your date night.

    PS What’s with the steak knife obsession? Devin is back on that kick too. It’s gonna be like an airport in here soon and everyone will be using plastic silverware. 🙂

  4. You know you’ve got a solid, mature marriage when you see the romance in scrubbing poop as a team. This is the real stuff.

    Did you see Good Will Hunting? Remember the scene where Robin Williams is relating to Matt Damon the things he misses the most about his wife?

    “My wife used to fart when she was nervous. She had all sorts of wonderful little idiosyncrasies. She used to fart in her sleep. I thought I’d share that with you. One night it was so loud it woke the dog up. She woke up and went ‘ah was that you?’ And I didn’t have the heart to tell her.”

    “…and that’s the shit I remember: wonderful stuff you know? Little things like that. Those are the things I miss the most. The little idiosyncrasies that only I know about: that’s what made her my wife. Oh she had the goods on me too, she knew all my little peccadilloes. People call these things imperfections, but there not. Ah, that’s the good stuff.”

    You and Brandon have got good stuff.

    I love that you can recognize it even when it’s disguised as poop art.

  5. I am so glad that Joanne gifted you with time to just relax and enjoy some time together! Such a wonderful gift!! And Joanne is right. We all have to be intentional about keeping our marriages strong and healthy!

    You are blessed indeed!

    I am praying for you!!

  6. “It’s all good.” I’m with Jess, amazed that you’ve done it again making such rich, profound, endearment out of the stuff of life in the trenches. And with Christine on the “protecting each other” realization which is both inspiring and convicting. What an ironically beautiful word picture you paint of the two of you on hands and knees doing what you’ve been called to do, doing what it takes, doing together! We are all going to miss that man:(

  7. It is very apparent to me that you and Brandon are a Team, as God has intended marriage to be. Each Team-Mate has a different role to fill and your roles will become very different during the next 15 months, both grueling, no doubt! However, the Captain of your Team will continue to coach you through each step of your Training/Game. This Captain once told one of his Officers as the Officer was about to embark on a new detail: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

    Date Nights will be waiting when Team Russell reconvenes in 15 months! Cherish and laugh about your last Date Night during the ensuing months, and MAYBE your next Date Night will not end at the Art Studio!

  8. At our old pad, when we had just one, we and our downstairs neighbors used to swap nights all the time. They had just one two, and not unlike the upstairs and downstairs of the same house, we’d put baby J to bed in his crib, bring the monitor downstairs and head out. With two, and a new address, we’ve lost our stride, though are finding it anew with slowly growing list of babysitters. Have tried to capture some of this kind of reflection at, but you really take it to another level! Encouraging words about prioritizing each other and the time together, just you, that helps you stand together in joy.

  9. Love that your hearts protect each other. Is there any other way to get through this journey intact?

    What a beautiful image of Brandon and Rhema enjoying the orange together.

  10. Beautiful, moving post. I’m always on the verge of tears when I read your blog! So glad that you got a date night-I know how precious that can be.

  11. I love how ya’ll are so in tune with each other, protecting each other is a really good way to put it, and allowing all these experiences to draw you closer together. A memory that won’t soon be forgotten to be sure :).

  12. i definitely support making it a regular habit. next year, when he comes back, that is. ; D

    i volunteer for babysitting when/if you move down here!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s