A couple of months ago Mr L and I started “date night”. I always thought this was a slightly bizarre practice when I saw other couples doing it. I’m not really sure why, it’s not so much that I felt we were one of those “smug married” (thanks Bridget) couples who didn’t need to designate a special date night because we revelled in each other’s company at home every night- sort of an “every night is date night in our relationship” attitude, no it wasn’t that. I think I thought it was a bit self-indulgent or irresponsible or something- kind of like “What did you expect being married with kids- of course you’re going to be at home watching TV after 7pm every night for the rest of your lives, silly you.” I think I also dismissed the possibility that going out for dinner with someone with whom you spend most evenings bathing children and getting on with dinner in a more pragmatic fashion (ie to satisfy hunger) could possibly be romantic.
And then a few months ago I went out for dinner with 3 of my girlfriends (go Carrie!) in the city at Bistro Felix. It’s a nice (not ridiculously fancy, but nice) restaurant with good food at what I consider to be reasonable prices (but high enough to remind you that you wouldn’t take your kids there- in case you needed another reason). The fact that I had never even heard of the place and one of our group had been there several times already reminded me that I just don’t go to anywhere remotely cool or grown-up any more. I got to dress up (slightly traumatic but I coped) and I also got to limp the 100m from the carpark to the restaurant in high heels for the first time in several months, strengthening my resolve that I refuse become one of those permanent-flat-shoes-don’t-you-know-I’m-a-mother tragics (no offence to any mothers out there who don’t wear heels, ever.)
We had such a lovely night and much as I was stoked to get out with my friends, I couldn’t help but get excited about the idea of going out for a nice grown-up dinner with Mr L. The menu is sort of French Bistro and as I read through it I noticed all the things I knew he’d go for- the steak tartare, the chicken liver terrine, the duck confit, the oysters, in fact I wondered how he’d choose what to order at all. And suddenly I thought, “well why don’t we come here?” In fact, why don’t we go to more of the places we used to go to, or hear about from friends but save for a special occasion or tell ourselves we’ll be able to go to once the kids are older (like what, 21???)
Fortunately we have a regular babysitter we know and trust and Master L loves her (Miss L loves everyone, she’s still too young to be particularly discerning). We are also in a position where we’re able to splash out semi-regularly for 2 or 3 hours of babysitting in the evening. I know not everyone has this luxury but we thought “bugger it, we may as well enjoy it” -“it” being life as well as a bank balance in the black (well if you don’t count the mortgage, that is).
So we made a list of restaurants we wanted to go to. Actually no, I made a list of the nice restaurants I’d heard of and when I ran out of ideas after number 3, I looked up the hat winners from this year’s SMH Good Food Guide and copied down anything that didn’t look too trendy, too expensive or too much hassle to get to (ie find a parking space near).
I must say Mr L was quite enthusiastic about the whole idea and we’ve really enjoyed the 3 dates we’ve had (we’ve managed a monthly regime so far). I’d be lying if I said it was terribly romantic but then I’m not a huge believer in all that at the best of times (when he proposed I was quite relieved he waited until after dinner instead of doing it at the restaurant in front of other people). No, but it’s nice to actually have a couple of hours to enjoy a conversation that’s not interrupted by a) children b) internet c) TV or d) falling asleep. (Having said that, 1 of the 3 dates has been at the movies- but we had noodles beforehand and the car ride to and from the movie to enjoy each other’s conversation).
So, I admit, I am now a fan of the date night.