Yes, this helpful stranger I've been living with over the last four and a half months is more than just a baby daddy, more than just the trash man, the dishwasher, the laundry carrier, and the Tivo setter ("um, does this girl do ANYTHING herself?")...he's also the super suave man I happen to be in love with. Oh yeah, remember that? What's it called, romance?
Josh and I had our first, official, compensated-a-trustworthy-couple-for-keeping-our-baby-alive "date night" this last weekend. I was totally looking forward to it, storing up anecdotes all month to pour onto my husband that had nothing to do with spit-up or teething, and hyping myself up for using human adult words like "Merlot" or "breath mint".
I even decided to get all dolled up just for the occasion. I dusted off the red suede pumps Josh had given me on our first Christmas together and squeezed my wide, post-pregnancy clown feet into them. (I used to think "sexy" when I wore these before...now all I think is "how many steps is it from the car to the restaurant?") Nevertheless, it was worth it. I looked good.
I finished curling my hair as I watched Matilda in her bouncy seat. She looked up at me, smiling and it reminded me long ago of watching my own mother prep herself for a night out with my dad. She would fluff her newly permed, blonde hair as she ironed her denim jumper (hey, this was hot in the eighties!) and I thought she looked beautiful. More importantly, I remember her feeling happy with herself and my dad looking at her adoringly. While I may have cringed at their doting at the time (and they can still turn my stomach, they are just that in love to this day) I appreciate the principle it instilled in me...mom and dad come first.
Date night is more than just a relief from the stress of parenthood. It's more than just an excuse to spend money on a ridiculously priced bowl of cheese (though Twisted Vine's baked brie is heaven!) It's valued time spent reconnecting with the one person God has blessed you with to help keep you in tune with who you are meant to be...an intentional time to restore your sense of need and longing for your spouse (and appreciation!) and a chance to unwind and laugh yourself silly with your true best friend.
Yes, Josh and I had a fabulous time. Great food and stellar conversation makes a few hours go by in a beautiful blink. Granted, it was not easy to leave my screaming child in the arms of another (I'm still not sure who I felt worse for when I left - Matilda or Sue & Tom - who were so gracious but will probably bring ear plugs if they return). But, date night is a deserved necessity for every couple...especially parents.
Sure, dating has always been fun. It was fun to date Josh as my boyfriend, more fun as my husband, and now as the father of my baby it is a special time wholly unique to us as a couple. It certainly helps keep priorities in perspective, knowing that we are not only investing in our marriage, but in our family - returning to Matilda as a healthy couple (not to mention sane members of society) ready for any challenges she might offer us, cute or otherwise.
Who knew those little red suede pumps would be the perfect prescription for mom-stress? I'm sure that date night was the first of many more to come...maybe even enough to nauseate my own daughter.
One can only hope.