Going on a date night when you’ve got kids can feel an awful lot like winning the lottery, or scoring big at a casino.
“Mrs. Steven, the stars, planets and moon have all aligned to allow you, YES YOU, an allotted amount of time away from your kids! DING DING DING DING!” (That’s the sound of a bell going off when you hit the jackpot).
And doesn’t it feel like the jackpot?
The days leading up to that magical time seem almost surreal. Can it be? Will it actually occur? One of the kids will get sick, right? The sitter will cancel. Someone, something, ANYTHING will happen in order to ensure the date night’s flop. And most times, this is the case.
And yet this time… you actually get to go forth with your plans.
So what now? In the past, preparing for date night could be an all encompassing event. There were no children to feed. Bathe. Change. Put to bed. No little ones screaming in your ear and making you catatonic. You could take as much time as needed to shower, and primp. Wear scintillating clothes, and spray on a little bit of perfume. Paint your toenails, style your hair. The goal was to impress, and dang girl, you did!
Only now, your husband is standing next to you. He knows all your trademark secrets. He’s watched you pucker your lips in front of the mirror (I do this, quite guilty of it) as you use a straightening iron to steam out the craziness that is your hair, and has a front row seat to the spectacle you create while trying on endless outfits, trying to find one that would be adequate for date night. You come to the conclusion fast that you have NOTHING that is date night material. So, you settle on the mommy casual look of a nice sweater, jeans and boots.
And all that straightening, only to end up in a ponytail.
As you head out and give the poor sitter an endless list of things you think she should know (this girl has been babysitting for me for YEARS; why do I keep harassing her?) you finally head out, praying the baby doesn’t wake up prematurely. Praying the 6 year old listens to the sitter when she tells him it’s time for bed.
You always tell yourselves, “when we are out, the kids are NOT a topic of conversation.” This never works. They are ALWAYS the topic of conversation. You might even text your sitter with some tidbit you’ve forgotten to tell her about one of the kids. I did this last night, and I ended up having a fantastic conversation with her via text. At one point I joked, “Am I on a date with you, or my husband?”
As for the venue choice? Remember choosing a dance club, or some kitschy little hole in the wall place that became solely yours? Most likely, you’ve been up sometime at night with the baby, and you are both tired. The thought of dancing makes you want to curl into the fetal position and sleep.
You go to a restaurant. While sitting in the lobby, waiting for your pager to buzz and alert you that a table is ready, something starts to happen. Sitting so close to your husband, holding his hand, images of the kids start to fade into the back of your mind. They are there, but they are not HERE, and that’s the whole point, isn’t it? You can smell a little of your husband’s cologne, and it’s very nice. Very nice indeed. After being seated in an intimate booth, maybe you both decide to sit next to each other, not across from one another. You start to realize how long it’s been that you’ve been able to have a conversation, just the two of you. His smile is phenomenal, as he tells you how pretty you are. Talk may turn to the kids from time to time, but it’s OK. It’s that and everything else inside our minds, and there’s no rush to finish. Right now, it feels like there’s all the time in the world for each other.
You may realize just how much you miss this. It’s so few and far between now, and yet due to those odds, it makes you appreciate all the more when you DO have a date night. If you had this all the time, it wouldn’t be as special. On the drive home, maybe you understand more clearly how these rare occasions have little to do with the way you look, or the places you go, or how long you get to stay out before you turn into the proverbial pumpkin.
It’s who you are with that makes all the difference.