So it’s been a while. I’m am not angry or upset. The simple fact is that the addition of Bonus Baby to the house for about 9 hours a day has not presented me with much free time. So much so, that when it happens I tend to find things I really need to catch up on. Like showering.
I was fortunate enough to catch a little bit of a break last week when my mom came into town for a visit. I love when she comes to town. She’s one of those type of guests that requires very little entertaining. She’s there for the grandkids, and that’s as much as she asks for really. That and vegetables to be in the house. Fair enough.
Along with her annual visit, Melissa and I get a date night or two. It’s become such a rare thing that it’s almost as if we’ve started dating all over again. While this might seem sort of romantic or maybe even a chance to renew the spark that tends to settle when you find yourself with only a handful of hours alone each night, for me it puts a lot of pressure into the evening.
Here’s what I mean – We planned two nights out together, and while we were given no guidelines or time limits, we set up my mom as best we could. Meaning, we fed the kids and tried to get them in a state that they would have about an hour to wind down before bedtime. Nice, easy evening for my mom.
We approached both nights with the same conversation:
Anything you want to do?
The topic went in circles over where to eat and what we might do afterwards. We both agreed that there didn’t seem to be any movies playing that we had the slightest desire to go see, and I made the point that seeing something just for the sake of seeing something had a strong chance of ending with me falling asleep, not that I’d complain. So both evenings would find me driving aimlessly toward nothing, and Melissa would get irritated over the feeling that I was putting the pressure on her to come up with some fantastical idea for us to act out. She was partially right on that notion.
Then, like many parents, we hit the big question:
Are we uncool now? Have our kids made us uncool?
Let me first answer that question with, no. It’s easy to let that idea creep in, though. We found ourselves with an amazing opportunity to get out of the house and do anything at all. Anything. Yet we drew a blank until it became a valid idea to go pick up some last minute groceries. It’s a frustrating thing to have some freedom and no clue what to do with it.
Then it dawned on me that cool-status was not the issue. It was expectations.
I spend a lot of time looking outside. I wonder what’s going on out there. Most importantly, I spend a lot of time thinking about what I would do if I could be like those people out there. Walking around without even thinking about what a gift it is just to be out there walking around. Being a stay-at-home parent is a very important job. A job unlike any other. However, it often carries with it a sacrifice that few outside the circle can understand. So when that rare chance at freedom comes along, we want, no, it must be perfect. It must be magical. When it comes to dinner, a chance at something new sounds great! Unless the food is bad, because the food can’t be bad on that most rare of occasions out of the house. A movie? Sure, but it can’t be one of those movies that would work just as well on the TV a few months later. It has to be something that can’t be missed on that big screen. As the sun begins to set, we can go for a walk. It just can’t be through an area filled with spiderwebs or graffiti or a ton of dirt, because when we kiss I don’t want to open my eyes and see I’ve been standing in the local dog’s latest work. I want several months of magic in an evening, because it often needs to tide us over that long.
Perhaps this is a venting of sorts. Perhaps it is a reminder to get out more. Either way, I’d argue that we are not the least bit uncool. We or I, however, have very specific expectations for any evening we are out together. That’s what can make date night so stressful.