“Dating” Albuquerque helped me date my husband again. I know that sounds weird, but hear me out.
My husband and I have five children ranging from 22-years-old to 8-years-old, and our oldest three are pretty close in age as they are each about a year apart. I was convinced they would be best friends and therefore parenting three children so close in age would be a breeze. Because that’s how it works, right? I was confident that the perk to having kids close in age was getting through the diapers and breastfeeding all at once and being done. And of course we would both be young and full of life when our third baby graduated high school, so of course that meant we would travel the world and live our best life.
I was pretty sure that’s how it would all work out. Easy peasy, right? NOPE.
My husband eventually graduated, and we both survived potty training a million (okay . . . three) children. Life was calm, and we decided it was a perfect time for me to go back to school. I went back to the University of New Mexico to finish a degree. Oh, and I also became pregnant with baby number four during my first semester back. Why not? Pregnancy, a newborn, breastfeeding, and a full load in college. Cool, cool.
Wash, Rinse, Repeat
Life went on, and we both settled into life as public servants and parents. Things were pretty calm, and eventually, baby number five came along (that’s another story for another day). We ran from work to football to soccer to Girl Scout meetings to PTA meetings to making dinner and bathing kiddos. Wash, rinse, repeat. That was life.
Raising children can be busy. Raising children can be exhausting. Raising children can be blissful. Raising children can be funny and joyful. Raising children can be isolating. And raising children can be especially isolating from your spouse. We were both exhausted and happy but also lonely for each other.
Yes, you are a parenting team. But sometimes that team is so entrenched in parenting that you forget the core relationship of your family: your relationship with each other.
Dating Your Spouse and “Dating” Albuquerque
That’s where “dating” Albuquerque comes into play. My husband and I both work full-time out of necessity, but we needed to find time for each other. We had to be creative. We started “dating” Albuquerque and each other again.
One of our boys is super sporty. I ran cross country and track in high school and came in last at every meet I ever participated in, so his talent is a mystery, but I digress. Anyway, my sporty son plays basketball, so my husband and I spent many a weekend at basketball games downtown.
He had to be at his games an hour early. We started dropping him off and heading to Humble Coffee for that hour pre-game. That hour of just my husband and I drinking delicious Humble coffee and talking and laughing was a wonderful recharge. Good coffee and good company.
There’s nothing better than running around Old Town with my husband. We just chat and pop into shops like Old Town Olive Oil. I like to buy yummy olive oils and vinegars that I use to trick my kids into eating more veggies (try the Elderberry and Cara Cara Vinegars, trust me).
Involve the Kids
I realize it is not realistic for people with younger kiddos to run off to a coffee house. May I suggest Alameda Open Space? This is a great option for both parents and kiddos. Alameda Open Space has some wonderful trails for bikers and walkers. There are ducks and turtles, and the trees remind me of a magical forest in the desert. Not to mention you are close to Flying Star on Corrales Road, and their giant eclairs are the best on earth. I said what I said, best on earth.
Another favorite is Elena Gallegos Open Space. This is my date spot with or without kids. It is magical at sunset. It’s Albuquerque perfection! At one angle, you have the mountains, and at another, you can see the whole city including downtown Albuquerque sparkling at sunset.
I was married at the UNM chapel, so another favorite activity is walking around the UNM campus. The campus is just so pretty from the duck pond to Zimmerman Library to the Anthropology building. If you can sneak in a weekday/midday date, please try DG’s Deli. It’s the best.
During COVID, “restaurant dating” was not realistic, so we would get a coffee or tea (I am an iced tea addict– unsweetened with lots of lemon, please!) and literally drive around. We would look for the notorious “fairytale houses,” and we once created our own Breaking Bad tour (pre-COVID, we ran into the real Breaking Bad tour).
Continue the Love Affair
Parenting is hard, and sometimes your marriage falls to the back burner. It can seem difficult to carve out time, especially if you have small children. But there are creative ways to find time for your kids and your marriage. Sometimes it is coffee before a basketball game. Other times, you are lucky to have a babysitter, and it is a meal at Farm & Table. The important part is to just do it. Albuquerque is beautiful, complex, simple, diverse . . . I will never stop my love affair with Albuquerque. Oh, and my husband. He’s pretty cool, too, and he can tag along with Burque and me.
Originally published June 2021.
The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of ABQ Mom, its executive team, other contributors to the site, its sponsors or partners, or any organizations the aforementioned might be affiliated with.