We went out for pizza, ordered one dessert with two forks, then steered our minivan toward the mall to burn an hour before bedtime. The kids’ bedtime, that is. On date night, my husband and I have a strategy: stay away until the children are snoozing. This is our time. So what did we do?
Shopped for the kids.
I wandered through the Target aisles carrying two pairs of size 6X snowpants over my forearm. “Oh, she needs a new pair of gloves, too,” I told my husband, remembering our daughter’s complaints that her fingers were cold at recess. “We should go back to the outerwear section.”
Halfway between cosmetics and the dollar specials I spotted a familiar face. “Hey, friend!” One of my book club chums emerged from the boys’ clothing racks. Her husband stood beside her, and I smiled at them both. “Date night for you, too?”
“Yes!” Her face brightened. “So I see we’re not the only ones who spend it at the mall.”
“Buying snowpants.” I shrugged my shoulders, and the heap of pink nylon rattled in my grasp. “Is that sad?”
She twisted her mouth and held up a hanger—Spiderman pajamas. “You’re not alone.”
We laughed all the way to the checkout.
Some experts say moms and dads shouldn’t talk about their kids on date night. Like parenting is a light switch we can flip on and off at will.
Oh, I understand the reason behind it—parents are a couple first and foremost, and we need to retain common interests beyond our children. Kids and romance make poor bedfellows. Of course.
But good parenting requires good communication. Sometimes, we need to be able to talk about the kids when the kids aren’t around—when we’re free from the pressures, routines and noise of our toy-infested household. Of all the joint pursuits my husband and I share, parenting is certainly among the most important. Why should the topic be off limits just because we’re locking eyes across a restaurant table? Maybe that’s finally a good time to express our hearts—to hash out questions, insecurities and hopes, and to laugh about this beautiful, hectic life in ways we can’t when the kids are running circles around our sofa.
“Don’t you see that children are God’s best gift? The fruit of the womb his generous legacy? Like a warrior’s fistful of arrows are the children of a vigorous youth. Oh, how blessed are you parents, with your quivers full of children! Your enemies don’t stand a chance against you; you’ll sweep them right off your doorstep,” (Psalm 127:3–5, MSG).
My husband and I chose to have a family because we believed it would enrich our relationship, and it has, beyond measure. Therefore I won’t apologize for celebrating that even on date night. Especially on date night.
So go out and buy those Spiderman pajamas if you must. And let’s stop building rules around what date night is supposed to look like. The time will come soon enough when our kids are grown and gone, and then every night will be date night once again. Until someday, when we’re wrinkled and gray, and our children will talk about us on their own date nights. As in—we really should go to the mall for an hour so Grandma can put the kids to bed.
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