Date night. This is one of my favorite word combos in the English language. The phrase conjures all sort of warm, fuzzy images of candlelight, silver movie screens, red wine rings on paper napkins and hands brushing hands.
It was obvious to me that Amy and Patrick – snuggled up on the couch in front of the roaring fireplace at the Lobby Bar – were on a date. I almost didn’t intrude, but then, I felt most drawn to them in the room, so I did.
It turns out, the couple was indeed on a Date Night to celebrate Amy’s birthday, which had occurred a few days prior. And as the parents of a two-year-old, Amy and Patrick find Date Night even more special these days because of how rare they are.
“I spent my actual birthday at The Organ Piper Pizza,” says Amy, referring to a popular kid-friendly dinner spot in the city.
Amy isn’t complaining, mind you. The Organ Piper is actually an amazing place – one of the few like it left in the country – complete with a live organist who plays anything from Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” to the theme from “Fantasia.”
It truly is a good time, but it’s a different good time. It’s not a “sitting in front of a fire with your spouse and a cocktail” kind of fun.
Because let’s face it, being a parent, most of the time, requires a complete transformation of how one spends their free time. We trade in Conan for Elmo. We read books on how to make toddlers happy instead of best-selling biographies. We play trains instead of tennis.
And sometimes, we miss our old selves and The Things We Used To Do and we pine for those people who seemed more interesting versions of our burped-up-on selves with the tired eyes and the sensible boots.
But then we remember the most painful and liberating aspect of the whole parenting thing: childhood is fleeting. Everyone who has been through it reminds us how quickly it flies by. “In the blink of an eye,” they say.
We know that it’s true. We feel it every day as we watch them grow, one row of Lego at a time. We know that soon the whole house will be built and they will move away.
And we will get our grown-up lives back. We will eat more sushi and watch rated-R movies at 7 p.m. and buy new boots.
But in the mean time, we’ll whisper to them not to grow up so quickly, curse the red Lego stuck to the bottom of our foot and savor a Date Night or two whenever we can.