Samantha Dooey-Miles on what really happens when you finally get some quality time with the one you love (that's your partner, not your baby, FYI...)
Dream: It will be like the old days. There will be a playlist of appropriately festive music soundtracking you as you lovingly prepare your body for special time with your partner. You’ll shave your bikini line in a locked bathroom with just yourself, a lady Bic razor and a handheld mirror for company. You’ve not found time since the kid(s) came along to get ready in this manner but that’s because it’s not been date night. Somehow you will create sufficient time to preen yourself. You will wear an outfit that is made of material that is far too luxurious to wear near children as it will be instantly destroyed should it come into contact with sick, pee, poo or snot. Looking in the mirror before you leave you will feel younger because the last time you felt like this was years ago when you were younger.
Reality: Every attempt to go upstairs and get yourself ready will be thwarted by a child who selfishly needs your time more than they think your face and body does. At 6.15 you remember the taxi is booked for 6.30. A last minute dash upstairs allows you to manage the same amount of time and effort in your appearance that you give it every other day. As you leave your child will hug you with sticky hands and deposit generic food muck over your favourite dress. Looking in the mirror before you leave you think you did a very average job concealing the dark circles under your eyes.
Dream: The children are happily distracted as you throw them into the loving arms of grandparents / hand them over to the well vetted and extremely trustworthy babysitter. They say ‘bye bye mummy’ and do not cry when you leave, they are far too excited about the fun evening they are about to have. Shutting the door behind you, you know you will not question or even think about your child’s safety or wellbeing until you have them returned to you.
Reality: Whilst preparing the children for their night away you pack too many clothes and every toy they’ve ever shown an interest in so that instead of bringing the small rucksack logic dictates a tiny child should require for one overnight you have to bring the medium sized suitcase you and your partner used to share on weekend city breaks. Even though it looks too much as you leave it with your mum, you’re not sure you’ve packed enough. As you drop them off your child has never been cuter and more adoring. That you are leaving makes them scream so much you are sure they will burst blood vessels. The babysitter insists you leave because they’ll stop as soon as you do. When you are outside you hear the screams ringing in the house at an even louder volume than before and question whether a date night is that important anyway. For the rest of the night your brain taunts you with images of your child distraught you have abandoned them.
The things you'll do
Dream: Date night means sweet sweet childfree time like you and your partner had every single day before babies. Remember all the amazing things you used to do then? You are going to do almost all of them on date night because you finally have spare time and, if you remember correctly, spare time goes on for what seems like forever. There’ll be dinner and drinks and dancing and the cinema and maybe some live music and if your mum picks up the kids early maybe even a gallery too.
Reality: Early into the date you realise dinner and a film and drinks is probably too much to fit into one night, although it never seemed that way when you were dating. You go to the cinema and watch a sub-par romantic comedy which you didn’t really want to see but was the best of a bad bunch and you haven’t been to see a movie in forever so you paid the twenty-five quid so you could remember what sitting in a cinema was like. You have one glass of the house white in Wetherspoons because it doesn't feel right to go home at nine thirty on date night. You eke it out until ten which seems like a reasonable time to call it a night.
It’ll be like when you first started dating
Dream: Within five minutes of your meal in the fancy local Italian you’ll look into your partner’s eyes and see the same glint that made you fall in love with them all those years ago. Underneath the table your hands are wandering. Everything they say is a statement so pure it makes you think they are uncovering pieces of their soul to you. The jokes you make receive laughs that indicate you are the funniest person they’ve ever met. You laugh and talk and grope one another until the restaurant shuts. When the waiter watches you and your partner disappearing into the night after you’ve been effectively evicted from the premises, the waiter will think to themselves ‘those two crazy kids really love one another’.
Reality: Your partner asks you if it’s a good idea if they order the macaroni as the last time they had it they farted all night. Remember? Sadly you do. You ask they do not order the macaroni seeing as tonight is supposed to be at least a little romantic. Over the spaghetti (they ask for Parmesan on top but you don’t think that will cause the massive wind problem the very cheesy macaroni did) you remember what it’s like to have a conversation that is not interrupted with requests for snacks or asking one other if you can smell poo. It’s not like going out with a hot new exciting potential sexual partner but it is like being with the person you know best in the world and that's nice too.
Sex and sleep
Dream: At first sex and sleep don’t seem to be related but they most definitely are to parents. Your desire on date night is to have a lot of both of them following a period of precious little. Ideally you will have a sweaty night of sex of the kind that is usually reserved for romantic leads in films when they do it for the first time. You will be carried, you will do it against a wall and then be flung onto the bed like the vixen you are. You will fall asleep in one another’s arms and sleep until lunchtime the next day. When you wake you will feel like a whole new person.
Reality: Once home you will immediately feel knackered knowing the children aren’t there to wake you in the morning. In bed you will make an effort to have sex if it’s been a while because you do like sex but sleep is winning in the battle of who you’ve missed more. Afterwards you get up to pee to make sure you don’t get a UTI. You fall asleep on separate sides of the bed to dodge the sweaty patch in the middle which means you’ll have to change the sheets in the morning. You wake with a start about five minutes after your child’s usual wake time concerned they are not up yet. Remembering they are at their gran’s house you try and get back to sleep but fail. You are reset to the usual level of tired you’ve become accustomed to. At least you had sex.