Date Night: There Should Be a Law!

5 Jul

Dear Pre-Having-Children Self,

I promise that you still exist. You are still the same interesting, vibrant, and yes, sexual human being you were before. Before your reality consisted of so much “pee pee and poopies” and drool and vomit and other such bodily fluids and functions. Before your conversations tended to vaccines and bedtime routines and how many ounces of milk did he drink and what do you want for school lunch tomorrow and you know we don’t color on the walls. Before you spent half your waking and some of your sleeping hours cajoling little ones to sleep, to shower, to brush teeth, and other such horrors that they don’t want to do. Before, when you had the time, energy, and privacy to be intimate with your partner on a very regular basis, in a not-rushed, shit-one-of-them-is-waking-up kind of way.

Seriously, dear pre-child self, life is not over! None of this will last forever. And your essence lasts. You are still you, and there is still excitement, romance, and travel to be had for you. Sure, you gotta pack 10 times as much stuff just to go down the street. Sure, you have to acquire something beyond bread and cheese to eat if you do manage to get out of town. Sure, it takes a bit more imagination now to see yourself and your partner outside of the butt-wiping role. But it’s all within your reach! You are still a cool, awesome, sexy, intriguing human being, somewhere in there!

My two main reasons for being just-as-cool-but-in-very-different-ways-as-before. They are pretty worthwhile reasons, though. And did I mention that I am just as cool as before? Seriously (Convincing self)....

My two main reasons for being just-as-cool-but-in-very-different-ways-as-before. They are pretty worthwhile reasons, though. And did I mention that I am just as cool as before? Seriously (Convincing self)….

Every 3-6 months or so I remember this, when Conan and I manage to go on a date. I know, I know, THAT IS NOT OFTEN ENOUGH. Regularly scheduled adult time should be on the list of basic human rights. There should be a law about monthly dates for parents- and if you could pull off weekly, then perhaps separation between parents would be reduced by half or more. This is my firm belief, and yet somehow months still pass between grown-up-only outings. There are so many barriers stacked against us- lack of money, lack of trusted babysitting folks who live in town, lack of time and planning, etc. etc. But we’re getting there. It was only a 3 month gap this time, between dates, and I’ve got plans for the future. There will always be barriers (the main two being small creatures named Lucia and Khalil), just like there are always just as many (or more) reasons to be unhappy as there are to be happy. You just have to try to put more weight on the reasons to be happy, and you gotta find ways to get out without the small creatures, no matter what. (“Cheaper to go out than to get a divorce!” I keep reminding us.)

date night 2 weeks post-partum- feeling subconscious, but it's a necessity to go out when we can!

Date night 2 weeks post-partum- feeling subconscious, but it’s a necessity to go out when we can! (We didn’t get a pic from this most recent date.)

So my mother-in-law was in town and about to leave again, and if we didn’t overcome the other barriers it’d be more months before we had a date. Granted, my pre-child self would have laughed at these barriers, scoffed at the idea that they could stop us, but, you know, just because my pre-child self still exists in me doesn’t mean we’re one and the same.

There was lightning just down the way, coming from the mountains, and great thunderous booms that suggested a raging storm coming in. Our car- which has been working only off and on lately- was working a bit, which made it an almost guarantee that it would putter out soon. These were not normal conditions for us to go out on a Sunday evening, but it was now or never, so we took our chances.

We had talked about taking public transport for our date, but with the skies about to open up on us, Conan insisted on taking the car. It died as we were backing out of our “driveway,” but he managed to start it again and it got us out of our neighborhood right as the rain started. Another two minutes down the road it died again and refused to cooperate. But who cares?! We were on a main road already, and did I mention we were childless?! What’s a little summer storm and a busted car in the face of youthful romance?!

el  poderoso, our little car, in the dirt driveway Conan made

el poderoso, our little car, in the dirt driveway Conan made

We jumped out of the car as a bus passed by, and we hopped on. It was only slightly dryer inside since all the windows were still open and rain was pouring in. I watched in awe as the street turned into a river before my eyes. Conan had told me that we were lucky, in a way, that our street is unpaved, because there’s no drainage on the paved roads, so they flood almost immediately. But I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes. I realized that in the year and a half I’ve lived here, I’ve never been out and about during a really big storm. It doesn’t rain all that much, for one, and I’m usually either at work or at home when it does, since it mostly rains in the evening. I was well overdue for experiencing my town in a good hard rain.

And it was romantic! To sit on a bus together, holding hands, wet and smiling, not worrying about children. We got off the bus where two big roads meet, where we were going to have to walk a few blocks down the road to get to our favorite pizza place. As soon as we got off, we realized our mistake. The street we needed to cross had rain at least a foot deep, maybe more, and had its own strong little current, as if it really were supposed to be a river. The bus was stopped at a light still so Conan asked the driver if he’d take us just across the road. The driver agreed but we couldn’t get all the way back on or we’d set off the sensor that shows how many people boarded the bus. So we rode on the bottom step, with the door open, scrunched in hugging each other tightly around the curve. Adventure and romance for us at last! It would have only been better if we were in some foreign country where we didn’t speak the language. Alas, you can’t have everything.

We’d made it across the river but the spot where the bus delivered us this time had no awning or protection of any form. So we ran, still hand-in-hand, instantly soaked in the pounding rain, towards the shelter of a nearby government building, where it just so happened there were brass instruments blaring and people dancing. We joined the party and danced until our feet were sore.

Okay, that’s a lie- the dancing part. Y’all know Conan doesn’t dance without a couple drinks in him, and it wasn’t our kind of music anyway (Lucia would have loved it, but- marvel of marvels!- she wasn’t with us). I did enjoy the ambience and the excitement of the moment, the exhilaration of something unpredictable happening and being able to just go with it instead of stressing about it being a total disaster. I reveled in the spontaneity and laughed at myself. Because if I had told my 17 year old self, or even my 25 year old self, that I would one day see something so simple as an evening out in the rain as an amazing romantic adventure, I would never, ever have believed it.

But life’s funny like that, so there we were, debating about our next move. We refused to pay a taxi to take us a few blocks down the road, because they’d have to charge us the minimum fee- too much for such a short trip. Conan was already cold and shivering and not excited about getting wetter. I tried to hitch us a ride with a couple cars passing in the right direction, but they didn’t pay any attention. We couldn’t come up with any other options, so we ended up walking through the no-longer-pounding rain.

Nothing else wild or amazing happened. We went with a medium pizza, due to budget constraints, a new kind that Bruno had just started added to the menu. It was fabulous, like all his pizzas, and we had a lovely cappuccino to get the cold wetness out of us. We still had a little bit of money left, so I bought 2 pieces of fancy chocolate at a coffee shop down the street, and we stopped by a newish sushi place to split a cup of their miso soup. Since it was a bit late for public transport, we got a taxi back to our car, which started up by then and managed to take us home. We chatted. We ate. We laughed. It was just a night out for a married couple.

Which is, actually, AMAZING. Revolutionary. Intensely earth-shattering. Okay, maybe it wasn’t really earth-shattering but it was like a recharge on my battery, like putting a deposit into the bank of myself, as my dear friend Meg would say. You can’t make withdrawals all the time and not put anything back in. And especially after all those months of pregnancy, which is its own little constant withdrawal from the bank of self-care, I needed another date!

Maybe I can’t go on outrageous trips to far-away countries and get lost in the streets, drinking wine and making friends with strangers. Maybe I have to dedicate an inordinate amount of time to butt-wiping and nap-time routines. Maybe my body is never going to look like it used to, either. I can still find adventure, can still revel in the not-butt-wiping moments, can still feel sexy. I am still me (I do believe, I do believe, like in that one Peter Pan movie), and nothing lasts forever, so I will enjoy all the kinds of moments (maybe not every moment, though), appreciate all the kinds of adventure that exist, butt-wiping and beyond. I am still cool, and I will appreciate myself and my cool partner! We’re gonna make date night a monthly law.

2 Responses to “Date Night: There Should Be a Law!”

  1. juliainman July 5, 2015 at 2:53 pm #

    I remember those “I’m more than MOMMY” feelings – and I only had one child! Going out with Anita every week helped me keep me alive; a couple of hours a week when it wasn’t about being a mother. Always loved getting home to my sweet boy, but always loved going out for those two hours, too. I promise your wonderful non-Mommy self is still in there with your wonderful Mommy-self! Cheers to more dates!

    • exiletomexico July 6, 2015 at 9:07 am #

      Yes- we are working on having some going out time with other folks, too! Just a couple hours can make such a world of difference!!!!

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