The arrival of Baby #1 catapulted my boyfriend (now husband) and me into totally foreign territory. Within nine months, we’d gone from being a young, energetic, party-loving, relatively new couple to becoming a family with a baby who never seemed to stop crying. Our Friday and Saturday nights passed in a blur of creaky rocking chairs, fussy periods, and dozy feedings, a far cry from our former life.
Perhaps most upsetting of all was seeing how easily our own relationship as adults – not as parents – got pushed to the sidelines and replaced by the baby’s activities. Our conversations all seemed to revolve around our kid, as did our sleeping and eating and socializing. While adaptation to a baby’s routine is certainly necessary, we quickly realized the necessity of established a regular date night with each other. This would enable us to reconnect as adults, to rekindle whatever romantic spark might have fizzled out a bit over the course of a stressful week, and to remind us of what attracted us to each other in the first place.
In keeping with my earlier post “10 ways to keep marriage fresh and fabulous,” we laid out the ground rules: Get a babysitter and get the hell out of the house. Stay away for an hour or an evening; it doesn’t matter, just as long as we’re gone. Be together. Dinner, coffee, walk, movie – it’s being alone and in each other’s undisturbed presence that matters. Aim for once a week, but once every two weeks is okay; any longer than that is bad.
And, please, try not to talk about the baby.
Believe it or not, the toughest thing of all is trying not to talk about the baby – harder than finding a babysitter and new, interesting stuff to do in a small town. It’s unbelievable how much a child takes over your brain as a parent and seems to push all other topics out of the way. I’ve seen it happen in far too many acquaintances of mine. “No!” I want to scream. “Please, please shut up! I spend my whole day with kids, and the last thing I want is to hear about yours.”
Ranting aside, my husband and I have had to learn diligence about not bringing up our roles as parents, and instead focus on ourselves – individual and independent adults with unique interests and abilities that existed prior to children and will continue to exist after those kids have grown. As I see it, being a parent is a major part of my identity, but does not define it.
Tonight was Date Night, and a particularly lovely one, too. The kids were asleep when the sitter showed up and we walked down the main street of town, watching the sun set in the distance over Lake Huron. I had a craving for creme brulée – my absolute favourite dessert in the whole world – and there’s a place nearby that makes a stellar one.
We sat in a quiet corner of the restaurant, savouring a shared appetizer of sauteed tiger shrimp on rice, followed by the much-anticipated creme brulée that lived up to my expectations, though my still-sore mouth had a bit of difficulty with the burnt crust. We shared a lemon tart with blueberry compote and drank Spanish coffee that warmed me to the core. Then we sauntered home, arms linked, satisfied and relaxed as we chatted and laughed together like the best friends we are.
I didn’t think about our kids once until it came time to pay the babysitter. That is the sign of a very successful Date Night.