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Dear Jo: Date Night

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March 19, 3 years A.B. (after-baby)

Dear Jo,

Last night was a date night, or what your before-kids selves referred to as a Friday night. Here’s the irony about wanting to go out after having kids: you still need your parents’ permission. Mom and Dad came over to watch Emerson and Lyla, which means Emerson got McDonald’s and more fruit snacks than you’d like to consider. Perhaps that is why he didn’t sleep well last night and then woke earlier than normal this morning.

Dear Jo: Date Night

You went to that hole-in-a-wall Thai place in downtown. You ordered the Pad Thai so spicy that your mouth was on fire and your nose was still running when you grabbed frozen custard afterwards. Remember when you used to tone down the spice level because you didn’t want to embarrass yourself with a runny nose at dinner? That was years ago. Now you order it full-on spice and last night you even blew your nose at the table instead of excusing yourself to the bathroom. Who says the romance is gone after two kids?

But, you weren’t in the mood for romance last night because you know what today is: departure day. In a few hours, you’ll leave for the airport. Then you’ll return home without Paul. As he jet sets off to Miami, of all places,  you’ll be home changing diapers, breastfeeding and negotiating bedtimes. Alone.

“It’s only for 5 days,” he reminds you.

You wonder if you’ll even shower, while he’s gone. Of course you will. The good thing about Paul being gone is that Iris and your mom have both made plans to keep you busy. Your mom even wants to keep Emerson overnight tonight and then have you over for dinner tomorrow. Who are you to say no to a sleepover offer? What will it be like for Lyla to be an only child for 24 hours? Maybe you will get a shower when she naps.

When Paul first told you about the trip, you so badly wanted to go with him. You even contemplated it all in your mind. If your mom could keep Emerson, you could take Lyla. She can fly for free. All you’d need to do is pay for your airfare and food. The company would foot the bill for the hotel room since they are already paying for Paul. You knew you would basically be locked in that hotel room, while he attended the conference, but at least that hotel room came with a view of blue skies, sunshine and maybe even a peek at the ocean, if you were lucky. You thought it might work. Then you checked the airfare. Who knew it would be so expensive? If only Vegas were the destination. Then you realized you wouldn’t be on Paul’s flight and  you’d have to fly alone. You imagined security and bags and finding gates with Lyla and no one else. You thought of the flight with a baby. Would she sleep? Cry? Nurse? What if others were offended by her breastfeeding? Well, that would be their problem, but it would also be yours. As if flying isn’t stressful enough and then you have to think about your baby’s needs and the sensitivity of those around you.

The planning became overwhelming.

So, last night, you ate your Thai noodles and sipped your Thai tea, appreciating the one-on-one time with Paul, but wishing it didn’t mean there would be a good-bye (and more importantly, a good luck) that would have to be said today.

It wasn’t until the bill came that you remembered your first date was at a Thai restaurant. You’d never had Thai food before, but when Paul suggested it, you went with it. You wondered how you had gone your whole life without ever tasting those spice combinations before. You fell in love immediately with both the food and the guy.

That was over a decade ago. Over 10 years ago, you went to a graduation party. You had planned to say hi, offer congratulations and move on to the next party. You had three others you hoped to get to that night. As you congratulated James, he introduced you to his friend. Then he walked away to talk with other guests. You meant to make your exit, but when this guy asked if he could get you a drink, you said yes. With each refill, the night got later, the other parties came to an end, and the two of you sat around the bonfire talking until the fire waned to embers. You didn’t want to wash that shirt for weeks because you could still smell the smoke on it. Even now, whenever you catch a hint of bonfire in the air, your heart skips a beat.

The following weekend, he picked you up and drove you to the Thai place. You ordered your noodles mild that night and got lost in conversation. You were nearly late to the movie, arriving as the previews ended and the opening credits began. Afterwards, you walked outside and there on the sidewalk in front of the theater, he kissed you. You missed curfew that night, but neither you nor your parents noticed or cared. Paul raced you home as quickly as he could. Even in the darkened car, you could see his ears turning red with stress, nervous about the impression he was making on your parents. You smiled. His ears still turn red when he’s stressed, tired, angry or turned on.

You didn’t notice if his ears were red last night. When you got home, you put the kids to bed as he packed for the conference. You fell asleep nursing Lyla. You woke when he took her from your arms, placed her in the bassinet beside the bed and covered you with the blankets. Your eyes were too heavy with sleep to notice his ears.

Dear Jo: A {fictional} Diary of a Modern Mom“Dear Jo: A Diary of a Modern Mom” is a serial fiction story written by Meagan Church. Stay tuned for the next diary entry of one mom’s attempt to chronicle what she has been told are the days she shouldn’t forget…spit-up, tantrums, milestones and all. Visit the Dear Jo page to catch up on the already-published entries. And, be sure to subscribe today, so you don’t miss a single installment:


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Motherhood Doesn't Come with Sick Days

{Photo credit: ©Meagan Church.}

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