Jessica is back today for another humorous glimpse into her life as a mom of four. This time she’s tackling date-night with her signature wit (read to the end and you’ll smile – I promise).
I’m curious – how long did it take all of you to finally take a night away from baby?
I think it was somewhere around 9 months with M, once he no longer breastfed right before bed maybe? It depends less on the parents and more on the temperament and sleep habits of the baby, don’t you think?
You guys. Guess what just happened at our house? Two magical words – date night.
I finally had my dreamy husband all to myself for a full three hours on our first for-real date night in – wait for it – ten and a half months.
My friends are horrified that it took so long, and I can feel your raised eyebrows from here. But I raise my brows right back at the parents who can hand off a screaming baby and proceed to actually enjoy themselves afterwards.
Seriously, how do you do that? Is it compartmentalizing? You just put that image of your howling kid in a little box, close the lid and focus on appetizers while waving for the drinks menu?
Date night is supposed to be relaxing and lovely and a reminder of a time way back before kids when no one leaned over to spit partially-chewed chicken fingers into your hand or actually pooped in their pants right there at the table. But how are you supposed to make meaningful eye contact over the crispy polenta immediately after walking out on your traumatized offspring?
It’s one thing when you have no choice. Leaving a crying kid because you have to go to work or a meeting or whatever sucks, for sure, but you do what you have to do. No one has to go on a date. Right?
And it’s not like we haven’t been out together since our fourth came onto the scene. We’ve had a handful of nice dinners out – we just had a baby along for the ride.
It changes the dynamic, for sure, but when she was teeny, she just slept for most of the night anyway, and when she got older, it was fun to have two-on-one time with our littlest.
We veer to doing stuff as a family, and that includes lots of dinners with friends who also have kiddos running around. We have a few go-to restaurants, places where we know we can order food that won’t prompt gagging noises from the kids. But dining as a family of six, well, it’s not the most relaxing thing.
Which is probably why fate stepped in.
Evidently, it was clear to the universe that we needed an actual date night with no pint-sized chaperones and so our hand was forced with an invitation to our oldest son’s second grade thank-you brunch – no siblings allowed.
I figured worst case scenario, the baby would cry the whole hour we were gone. It would suck, but she’d survive. And a second grade thank-you brunch? It’s one of those events you can’t miss.
I’ll save the suspense – she was totally fine. Tears for about ten minutes, then she got over it and had some yogurt. My mom, bless her, sent me two videos of the baby playing happily.
I wasted no time making a dinner reservation for two the very next weekend. This time, the plan was to leave all four with my in-laws, and three of the four would then continue to a sleepover at their house after we got home. I was beside myself with excitement.
In deference to that evening witching hour when at least one kid is bound to completely lose his or her mind, we booked the earliest possible dinner reservation. Then we got there a good thirty minutes early so we could sit in the bar like a pair of actual grownups.
And we grown-upped hard. A dark, cool, intimate restaurant with no kids’ menu to be seen. Appetizers with seafood and vegetables – real gag-inducing stuff to our three year old. Dark beer in tall frosted glasses and cocktails in delicate stemware. A cozy booth just big enough for two, and a leisurely meal that stretched out over a few courses. So nice. And such a treat after ten months and change.
We headed home after dinner. The kids had their backpacks ready to go and the baby was asleep. Asleep! After our in-laws departed with the kiddos, my husband and I looked at each other, minds whirring with the possibilities. Rent a movie? Relax on the patio with an adult beverage or two? Have a little, ahem, alone time?
Let’s be real. Baby down for the night, other three staying at grandma and papa’s, eight-thirty on a Saturday night? You know exactly what happened.
We went to sleep.
More Parenting in the Trenches
- Co-Sleeping: Confessions from the Family Bed
- The Biggest Potty Training Mistake I Ever Made
- When Your Child Feels Unloveable