Anniversaries, Children, and the Death of the Date Night
By L. V. Gaudet
© October 18, 2010
This past weekend was an anniversary of sorts for us. It’s not the traditional wedding type of anniversary, or moving in together, or engagement anniversary. No, it’s one of those girlie things some of us girls do that men tend to shake their heads at and say “That’s not a real anniversary.”
Saturday was the anniversary of when we met. It was celebrated in what is probably a common theme after eleven years, married for four of those, and two kids together. It was completely and utterly ignored. He went out and played ball hockey, while I stayed home with the kids, one of them complaining incessantly about a sore throat that only seemed to hurt to moment you asked her to do something or said “No” to something she wanted. And our wedding anniversary seems to be headed on the same route.
As most other parents of young children have also quickly learned, finding reliable and trustworthy babysitters can be hard. This is especially so if you fall into the paranoid over-protective mom category like I do. The kids who are eager to babysit are too young for me, and the ones that are old enough would rather be out with boys and their friends than spending a Saturday night with a couple of little kids.
So far, with the exception of one evening out in seven years as parents, we have relied only on the kids grandparents for babysitting services. While that may work at first, before long you find yourselves going out less and less.
The very act of going out becomes a chore.
Before you realize what happened, anniversaries and date nights become once or twice a year events. Soon they move into the land of “special dinner at home”, which is never as special as one you don’t have to cook yourself.
This is a far too populated place where couples try to recreate the date experience from the comfort of home after giving up on the whole business of finding neighbourhood kids to babysit. You put in a grand effort to cook something special, the kids whine and groan about what you cooked, one says it’s gross, and the other shoots food across the table from a wildly waving fork.
The alternative option, feeding and putting the kids to bed before your special meal, is destined to flop before it starts too. They know you are trying to do something that doesn’t include them and they won’t stand for it. Ultimately they will find all kinds of reasons why they can’t sleep.
Kids have a unique ability to sense when something is up. Sometimes they can even tell days in advance that something special is in the works. They will fight more, be needier, misbehave more, and demand more attention. This is, of course, because they don’t want anyone doing anything they’re not. Their ultimate goal is to make you cancel your plans to be with them instead, or at least to make your plans center entirely on them. After all, kids are the center of their universe and so rightly think they should be the center of yours too. By the time your babysitter arrives, or it’s time to sit down to your special dinner at home, you are tired, frazzled, and feeling completely un-special and wonder why you bothered.
So, you give up on the nights out, special at home dinners become ordinary dinners, and date night has had a timely death. You tell yourself it’s ok because – between the increasing costs for groceries and all the money you have to put out for school snacks, fundraisers, and activities for the kids – you really can’t afford a night out anymore anyway. And it really is ok because it’s all part of being a parent and making sacrifices as a parent.
What makes it even more ok is remembering to remind yourself and each other often of that insanity that brought you there in the first place – love.