Every Friday night, our family of three goes out to eat. This means keeping a steady supply of crackers in front of Peter before the food comes, feeding him off our plates to keep the cost down, picking his sippy cup off the floor, and racing home to get him to bed before 7:00.
A few months ago, we bumped into friends at the restaurant. Dressed to the nines, they were eating out before the symphony. The symphony! I wanted to go. And I wanted a dressy dinner without the slobber monkey.
Why not line up a sitter and go? Well, Tom and I can’t afford disposable diapers. You think we can afford a sitter? Our families, meanwhile, live too far to help on any regular basis.
Then there’s Peter’s separation anxiety. He pretty much screams like I’ve left him with terrorists any time I walk out the door. Unless he’s with Tom, without whom it’s not date night. So there you go.
Maybe things will be different with the next child. After all, my Symphony Friend is a stay-at-home mom who breastfeeds on demand and wears her babies. Her girls just happen to have temperaments quite different than Peter’s. So she gets date night, and I don’t.
Date night is a luxury, not an entitlement.
You’d never know that, to read some of the advice given to married couples. “Need to save your marriage? Get a sitter!”
Boy, the divorce rate must have soared prior to the twentieth century. Before that, restaurants were for travelers (or for the superwealthy who might, if they lived in a large enough city like Manhattan, venture to a restaurant once or twice a year). Families ate at home. With their kids. Every night. Even pre-marriage “dating” took place in the home.
You know, I think my marriage is going to make it. In fact, if we had to have a date night to save us, that would only indicate a larger problem.
Perhaps what would help couples more than a date night would be to retain—or reclaim—intimacy as we go about our daily routines. It’s possible. Tomorrow, I’ll share my Top Ten ways to do it. No sitters required.