Hey: I wrote a piece for Mom.me theorizing that Valentine's Day is for kids and kid-like people.
My parents were/are really good parents, and ultimately I think I try to emulate them in a lot of ways when I parent Paul (James doesn't count yet.) I want to give him a lot of opportunities and feed his curious, outgoing nature. I also want him to be aware and grateful for how lucky he is. I want him to work hard. My parents all wanted these things for me, I would say. But another way I want to be like my parents is that I still want to have fun.
Steve and I are planning some vacations for this year and part of me feels foolish, to spend the money, but at the same time, we're not in debt, and we are doing some saving for the future, so why not. We work hard, both at home, and I have become more aware that unplugging and finding a change of scenery is not just nice but something we really have to do. Plus, we should stay curious and see new things, have new experiences, get new ideas.
My parents had fun. They went out plenty and left us with babysitters, and I have fond memories of my mom's perfume before she went out or had a party. They went on some long vacations too, leaving us with long-term sitters which was always a little weird, but my parents mitigated the situation toys in case we were too sad (I realize this might sound mean but we loved those toys--I remember being extra-excited about a set of glow-in-the-dark bendy toys) and then souvenirs when they got home. We always got neat things when they traveled--when they went to Singapore I got silk pajamas and slippers and a paper umbrella and I was in heaven.They took us places too, places that were really nice. I swam in a lot of hotel pools, which was great because that was (and still is) one of my favorite things.
Anyway, it, at worst, didn't bother me that they occasionally did their own thing (I think it helped me be good at doing my own thing) but as I've gotten older I've come to really appreciate that my parents have and had their own lives. If you are privileged enough to be able to have fun as parents (I know a whole lot of people are not), you should. It's fun to have fun--things to look forward to that don't involve packing up a child or convincing a kid to eat something somewhere. It gives you new energy as a parent and something to talk about, with your partner and your kids and with other people. And I'm of the belief that it's not preferable to completely, totally give your own life for a child--I don't think it's good for the kid--those are the kinds of kids who freak out in college. It's good, as a kid, to see that your parents have a relationship with each other that doesn't have anything to do with you. It makes marriage look and feel fun.