Let me tell you why going on a date when you have kids is hard: because you have kids. You can’t just up and go when you want anymore; there is a military amount of coordination that must take place.
First, you have to secure a sitter. Then, you have to prepare the children for your absence and then, ultimately, you have to make plans and actually follow through.
The other week, my partner, Randy, and I had planned to go out on what would amount to our second date night post-baby. We have a three-child household now and, in the last year, we’d only collectively been out sans kids when we saw David Sedaris in all his glory at a reading at Ovens Auditorium. And I’m pretty sure you don’t get much more adult than that.
We’d planned another date night that went bust a few weeks ago. For months we’d looked forward to seeing Open Mike Eagle at The Evening Muse but, as happens so often to new, tired, defensive parents, we found ourselves in a cyclical argument about who does what that ended with me flying solo to the show and having drinks with a friend and Open Mike himself at Growlers afterwards.
So basically, I spent our second date night without my date. (I’m not all bad—I did pick Randy up a vinyl of his favorite album. I have a heart!)
Normally when we go out, if we even make it out, it’s somewhere quick and easy, somewhere with coloring sheets and kids menus. These meals are spent avoiding spills, spiffs, and keeping our baby in her high chair.
I wanted to go out hands-free, quiet, somewhere that didn’t even have crayons. I messaged my mom: “We need a date. Friday or Saturday?” Since I didn’t give her an option for “neither”, she chose Saturday to watch the kids, and I began to plan accordingly. As the day drew closer my mother came down with a stomach bug (the nerve of this woman) and ultimately couldn’t make it.
Randy and I have been “those parents” who haven’t left their new baby with a sitter yet, so we didn’t have a backup plan. The date fell through.
I told a friend our story, who then demanded we go out while he and his girlfriend tag-teamed babysitting. Pro tip: get you some friends like this.
After much Instagram fanfare, the new Not Just Coffee in Dilworth was to be our destination. We walked in awkwardly and took a seat at the bar, nuzzling like horses, bragging to anyone who would listen that we didn’t have kids with us.
Settling into our lone existence, we sampled small plates and cocktails, trying what new beers were on tap. Then, at about 8 p.m., just as our incredible bartender, Ben, had made us our second drink (try the Rye Chai, y’all), and just after the kids’ bedtime, my daughter FaceTimed me.
It’s not that I don’t want to talk to my kids. Really, it’s not. It’s just that I always talk to my kids. I wanted to place them in the care of others and for them to do what they were supposed to do, which was be in bed when I got home and leave me the hell alone. Piece of cake.
I stepped to the bathroom as she passed me off to my son, who was having a hard time settling in for the night. In an act of desperation, I told him he could use my computer to watch a movie, that I loved him and would see him in the morning. (My kind and gentle words were backed by the desire to re-enter the adult world of the bar.) He assured me he’d go straight to sleep.
The night went on and we took full advantage of this night out as our sitters sat in our house, quietly listening to records and playing with our dog. We returned home at about midnight, after one last drink with our pals at Rhino Market, high on having just been out responsibility-free for a while and ready for bed.
Walking in the door and back into our child-filled reality, the dog went crazy and woke the baby, who I then had to rock and nurse. Switching gears, here.
Randy headed downstairs to turn off the lights and check on the kids, and found my son still glued to the computer screen hours later, quietly basking in this rare bedtime occurrence, our sitters and dear friends unaware.
Date night ain’t what it used to be—there are curfews, responsibilities and the chance that when you get home you have to get right back at it. Sometimes you go out as planned, sometimes you fight and go your separate ways.
But every once in a while, you get to head out, gaze into each other’s eyes, and spend a few hours away from your kids, talking about your kids. This is your life now.
Photo: Liz Logan