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The New Pressure Of Date Night

by Carrie Friedman

A weekend is rapidly approaching. I vaguely recall when weekends used to be good things, fabulous mini-vacations after what felt like strenuous work-weeks. I was in my 20’s, I thought the work was hard but realize, years later and now a parent, that it was “work-lite” compared to the backbreaking tasks I’m performing on a daily basis with our two toddlers. Mondays are now my favorite day of the week, because our helper returns, with light surrounding her and a chorus of angels singing to announce her presence. Every Monday morning I shake awake from my catatonic stare and embrace her.

But today is Wednesday, and we have a sitter for Saturday night. We have to make plans. This should be good news.

Before we had kids, I told my husband how I would do things. This involved a lot of platitudes and “beliefs,” including this one: “We’ll have a standing babysitter every Saturday night. That way we’ll be forced to check in with each other, and take a little time out of the house.”

A terrific, inspired idea. Romantic. Noble.

In theory. Not so much in practice.

What I didn’t know then: how tired we’d be. How utterly drained, how behind on any and every other task besides going to work and raising kids. How impossibly over talking we’d be.

I think we talked non-stop for the first three years of our relationship. We were philosophical. We were witty. We were the kind of people whose table you wanted to sit at. In the first several years of our marriage, prior to having kids, my husband and I would go out every weekend, to all the newest restaurants, movies, trendy art openings. And we had fun at all of these events.  We were glitzy. We were talk-y. We, well, we had energy.

Now, there’s the pressure and expense of a babysitter. It’s a mandate – not just to go out, but to also have a GREAT time. But now, my skin crawls thinking of going to a new or untested anything. Especially a restaurant with avant-garde-sized non-portions or any sort of foam “garnish.” If the restaurant is good, it’ll be around in a year or three and I’ll try it once they’ve worked out their first year kinks and I don’t have to make a reservation a month in advance. I catch movies on-demand now. And art – the viewing of it, much less creating of it – seems like such an indulgence to me now. I no longer have patience for most museums.

Truthfully, I wouldn’t mind spending our date nights sitting in my car listening to an audio book. Or resting in a dark, silent room. If we stayed home while the sitter was there, even if we hid from the kids, they would find us, like drug sniffing dogs. They always find us.

I have been looking for a place where I can get massaged WHILE I eat. A place where I can wear sweats, recline, talk, and eat, but also drift in and out of sleep, read a book or magazine and/or pay the bills without it seeming rude to my dining partner. I believe there is a market for it.

I have decided I will invent this place. Call it Parents’ Pub. It will be dark and quiet, with Lazy-Boy chairs covered in thick afghan blankets and nice amounts of food and alcohol on tap. You can talk to your date, catch up on your weeks, but you need not feel obligated. If you want to sit side by side in each others’ company without even acknowledging each other, that’s okay too.  It’s the quiet-car-on-the-train of restaurants. I feel more rested just thinking of it.

(Patents pending.)

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