On first hearing the term "date night", I was worried I'd just heard the title of a bad '80s horror film. I quickly realised that the term "date night" is not something cooked up by money-making American scriptwriters, but is in fact a reality for parents, whether their children be newborns or pre-teens incapable of looking after themselves.
My friend Jarred brought it up last week – I admit I was fishing for topics for this week’s column – and I was intrigued. Like me, and other recent newbie dad Ryan, Jarred has begun to notice a very real shift in his relationship with his wife and that brought about the need for a date night.
The shift is nothing negative, just a rather drastic change in roles.
They once saw themselves as "husband and wife", but lately, they feel more like "mom and dad" as every waking hour is consumed by their son Cash. Their conversations seldom move away from what he does, what he is struggling to do or what he may do in the future. Of course, there is nothing wrong with any of this, but there does come a time when you want to change the subject and speak about something other than how many nappies the little guy needs or why a new burping technique is working well.
When you become a parent, your conversations with your spouse are peppered with little imitations of the googles, giggles and gurgles that your little offspring emits -- it's just one of those things and while it's perfectly fine to put up with most of the time, there are other times that I'm left wishing we could have a serious, straight-up adult conversation, sans baby talk.
Date night was a suggestion Jarred received from someone to help him break the pattern of baby talk and self-imposed isolation; to take the new addition out of the equation for a couple of hours and reconnect with his partner -- just the two of them. There's nothing better than realising that you do in fact still enjoy each other’s company and it's even more of a revelation when you begin discussing something other than the newest addition to your family.
It certainly struck a chord with me, because my wife and I are in a similar situation.
We have managed to get out a fair bit recently and I must say, managing to get away for the evening, knowing that somebody is at home looking after Gabe, brought about a realisation of just how much our lives had changed over the past seven months. I had forgotten what it was like to watch a movie and grab an ice cream without considering Gabe’s bed-time or feeding schedule.
But best of all, the adult time reminds you that while your role may have changed, you haven’t lost anything, you have simply added to your life, even if it isn't all toothless smiles and squeals of delight.
So is the change for the better or the worse? Well, I wouldn’t be writing a column about my son every week if I hated it… Just call me dad.