For a 10-year-old who used to fantasize about going on elaborate dates with Jonathan Taylor Thomas to an almost excessive degree, I grew up to be a not very romantic adult. Take Valentine’s Day, for instance. I’ve never been a big fan. I don’t like a holiday dictating when I should shave my legs.
Or Sweetest Day, for that matter. What is this thing? Valentine’s Day 2: Buy Harder?
Not that I think there’s anything wrong with romance, per se. I’m just more a believer in spontaneous romance. The unexpected slow dance in the living room. The bouquet of flowers on a random Monday. The “I’m bringing pizza home for dinner!” text.
Followed by the “And beer!” text.
Which probably explains my whole “thing” about date night.
See, kids, when a man and a woman love each other very much, they spend a boatload on tulle and fancy almonds so they can get married. And then they do a special hug, which results in children and never being able to pee alone again. And, after awhile, although the man and the woman still love each other, they kind of forget they are actual human beings and not just cogs in a butt wiping factory.
Which is why date night was invented.
If you talk to most parents, they will say that hiring a babysitter and going out for an evening is vitally important to your relationship so that you and your partner can reconnect and remember that at one point you could carry on an entire conversation that didn’t involve the words “poop” or “smear” or “we’ll probably have to move, that smell is never coming out.” And I’m not here to argue that. I agree with date nights in theory.
It’s just in the execution that it’s flawed.
When you have kids, especially young kids, it doesn’t matter if you want to go out or not. It doesn’t matter if you’re exhausted or not in the mood or already had big plans to eat an entire cheesecake while watching “Cougar Town” once the kids were asleep. You simply force yourself to go out if and when some idiot agrees to watch your adorable, ridiculous children (who just invented a game where you chase them around with a flashlight for six hours straight).
Which is why my husband and I went on a date night last week when my mom was visiting from out of town. The last thing we wanted to do was reconnect. We wanted dual naps while an IV dripped vodka into our veins. But what did we do? We went out because, hey, we had bagged us an idiot.
Now, I don’t know how your date nights usually go, but ours usually follows the same script. The conversation always starts off awkward.
Then we actually look at each other and it gets even worse.
Me: Have you always had that much white in your beard?
Him: When’s the last time you brushed your hair?
Then we spend a few minutes venting.
Me: If your daughter takes her diaper off one more time, we’re not paying for her college.
Him: He keeps headbutting my crotch. I know I can’t do it back to him but, seriously, just one time and he’d probably stop.
Then it gets lame:
Me: God, I’m so tired.
Him: So tired.
Me: I mean, just so tired.
Him: How long have we been gone?
Me (checks watch): 12 minutes.
And then we remember that alcohol exists.
Me: I’ll take a bottle of Merlot.
Bartender: To share?
Him: What is the closest thing I can pour into my mouth? I’ll take three.
Which quickly leads to things like:
Me: I am going to finish my novel this year. I’ll write nights, weekends, whatever it taks.
Him: Yes, you need to. I’ve always thought so. You’re talented even if you don’t think so.
Me: Well, so are you! Look at all you’ve accomplished so far. All you do for us, it’s just…
Him: Well, I couldn’t do it without you by my side. *cheers*
Me: I LOVE YOU SO #$%@*&^ MUCH.
Him: YOU ARE MY EVERYTHING! AM I TALKING TOO LOUD?
Me: NO, NOT AT ALL.
And that is ultimately why we drag our exhausted, bedraggled asses out on date night. Even if we don’t want to. Because in the end it is necessary. Because it works. Because before all of us there was a we. A we with hopes and dreams and passions and unique personalities and a much higher tolerance for alcohol.
And sometimes we forget.