Sean and I have a two and half year old and a four month old.
Those statements seem fairly unrelated, and indeed, they certainly work against each other. It's usually pretty difficult for us to get a sitter because my eligible siblings are either working multiple jobs or have fled the state (AUDREY). An unsolvable conundrum, you say. Well. Sean and I are risk-takers. We're participators in parent roulette. We live on the edge and kill for the thrill. Ok, false again, but we realllly like our pale ales and buffalo wings and plush booths and dimly lit locales. Therefore, we take the kids.
We kind of stumbled into a weekly tradition over the last couple of months. There is an indoor/outdoor mall down the street from us that has a favorite restaurant of ours. The food is tip top, the price is right, and they microbrew an excellent blond. After a drink and an appetizer to split, we hit up the indoor mall park. This part serves the double purpose of fulfilling the bribe for Jordan's good(tolerable) behavior during our date, and also satisfies the quotient of crazy for the week.
So this whole routine either works out swimmingly or fails epically. This can be chalked up, I believe, to the mystifying nature of the still-developing brain. In Jordan's case, for example: one date is smiles and kids' menu artwork and sugar packet assembly line across the table while Sean and I sip leisurely and snack heartily.
The following week is straight out of one of those ubiquitous Pinterest posts "Reasons my kids are crying." She's crying because we gave her a straw. She's crying because there isn't a yellow crayon. She's crying because Sean tried to play tic-tac-toe with her. She's crying because I blew on her food to cool it off. She's crying because cheek tear tracks are the new black. I don't know.
And the other fool
One week Weston's happy to play with the distinctly feminine mobile that hangs from his carseat handle. (It was originally Jordan's, and dangles carved pink hearts and little wooden dolls with flower-print dresses. Whatever, he's entertained.) Or I'll give him some gift card out of my wallet to hold and he'll like zone in and concentrate in such a manner that pulls his eyebrows together and narrows his lips into a tiny "o." But then! The next week I'm marathon nursing under my sweatshirt to prevent the agonized cries that can only be cause by parents trying to enjoy themselves. (Does any other nursing mother construct their day's outfit based on how easily their child can be concealed under their shirt? Oh good.) Or he'll require unbroken eye contact and saccharine, obnoxious smiles as I speak out of the side of my mouth to my husband.
Some dates, it's just Jordan acting out. Others, Weston is the date diva. Sometimes we hit gold and both are fantastic. Then there's that time where the house wins all: flailing toddler, whimpering infant, shamed parents with heads hung low, all slinking as inconspicuously as possible from the place. (Impossible to do with Jordan's signature back-arch, by the way. But we've perfected an exit strategy inasmuch as possible.)
I know, I know. We should "date" at home. Lots of people do it. Probably most people who have young kids. Sean and I are of the opinion, however, that kids shouldn't hinder the spousal relationship, they should enhance it. Ideally yes, we would be sneaking away for uninterrupted conversations in which we could give our full concentration to each other while the kids terrorized the paid help. On occasion, we do! But hey, you can't let life stop you from watering your marriage. If bringing the kids means fragmented sentences and carrot sticks dropped under the table and little hands grabbing bearded cheeks so that Dad can look ONLY AT JORDAN - but we still get a little piece of each other? so be it.
There's an inevitable eye-lock between Sean and I at some point during every one of these "dates" that translates clearly to "why do we do this?" We do it because it is, ultimately, a good time. It's something that takes us away from routine and it's something to look forward to in a humdrum week. It's little, but it's important. To me anyway. I did tell Sean that we are making a 2014 pact to get out for solo dates at least every other week, come hell or dual diaper bombs. Something of a new year's resolution, if you will.
That doesn't necessarily mean that we'll stop our little tradition - we probably won't. We don't learn our lesson very easily.