When the baby was approaching eight weeks old, my other half asked a question that floored me. “Would you like,” he said, “to go out for Valentine’s Day?”
It wasn’t that I was dumbstruck because it was a rare romantic gesture, or a concession to a Hallmark holiday, or anything like that. I was astonished because the thought had never even crossed my mind. And oh yes, I had known that Valentine’s Day was coming. Not only had I known, I had browsed Pinterest boards and Facebook groups packed with ideas for cute crafts to do with your toddler to mark the occasion. (Something else you learn when you become a parent, at least to a toddler or nursery-aged child: there are wayyyy more holidays out there than you ever realized, and adorable pain-in-the-arse craft activities for every one of them. Footprint Christmas reindeer give way to inexpertly-collaged Valentines, which yield in turn to St Patrick’s Day green-dyed cupcakes and Easter chicks made from cotton wool balls, and so on and so on. It is actually difficult to generate enough recycling to satisfy the raw materials demand.) So Valentine’s Day was well and truly happening in our house; it was happening with heart-shaped jam tarts and some finger painting. What had simply never entered my head was the prospect of celebrating it with a date with my partner of eleven years’ standing.
Yes, at first, you can’t leave the house at night because the baby needs feeding every forty minutes. You don’t fit into any of your nice clothes and you are so tired that any time no children are physically attached to you, you want nothing more than to sleep. All your friends have babies too so nobody can babysit. But at length you make the heroic efforts necessary to spend some time alone together, and what a triumph it is.
THE BLOKE: Can I get you a drink?
THE BROAD: Better not. I’m breastfeeding. And co-sleeping. And so tired that a single sip of Sangiovese will be enough to tee off the weepy-drunk-falls-asleep-in-the-toilet-cubicle stage of the evening.
THE BLOKE: Ha, sleep … Do you think the kids are sleeping?
THE BROAD: When we left, The Bird was playing nicely with her teddies. And by “playing”, I mean “yelling”. And by “nicely”, I mean “loudly”. And by “her teddies”, I mean “zero justification”. Anyway, let’s not talk shop. We never get away from them; let’s use this time to, you know, be adults.
THE BLOKE: You’re right. Had a look at the menu? It’s a fancy place. Look, Beluga caviar!
BOTH, WISTFULLY: Belugas….
BOTH: The Bird’s favourite cephalopod!
I did make it out for a “mum date” with three really good friends last week, and we secured an entire room of the pub all to ourselves by the simple expedient of talking in great detail and at probably rising volume about potty training our daughters. But it’s now almost June, and The Bloke and I still haven’t been for our Valentine’s date. Isn’t that Ridiculous?
Image credit: Kristin “Shoe” Shoemaker on Flickr at https://www.flickr.com/photos/linuxlibrarian/5404460164/