This is the 3rd post in the Mami, Mom/Papi, Dad GLBTQ: Family Life Series.
The Return of Date Night
What’s A Date?
It has been a over two years since we went on a real date. “Real”, meaning Elliesofia is not in tow; we are not running errands while being “alone”; and there is an actual set time and place to be together out of our house for the purpose of fun. The last time we did this was a rushed, two-hour, glorious time to see a comedy at the cheap seats around the corner from my sister’s house while on vacation in Florida. Why have we fallen into the parent trap of not setting aside we time? Well… We didn’t know it was the parent trap. After having almost lost Elliesofia, Lisa and I relished exploring the world with her. Add jobs, schedules, holidays, appointments and two years disappear.
But, I had a feeling we weren’t the only ones. I knew if we were missing date nights other parents might also. Sometimes it just takes a bit of asking. In an effort to round-up the masses in support of bringing back date night, I offered a solution to what seemed to me one major obstacle babysitters. I deemed February friendship month and offered a free, no paybacks, four-hour block of babysitting. Lisa agreed to join me for the couples who had two kids.
Of course the couples with two kids jumped on the offer first and we were delighted. Why? You may ask, would we offer to babysit instead of asking for someone to babysit for us first? Well, it’s all about community. Since my family is in Florida and Lisa’s is on the Eastern Shore we can’t just ask family. We wanted an opportunity to foster a sense of support within the families we were close with because it’s different for both parents and kids when children are left alone with other people even when the kids know them. But, I did say no paybacks. And I meant that. I didn’t want our friends to feel it was a tit for tat. We wanted to build trust and rapport among the children and the adults, not as a way to build up extra cash or create a list of would be babysitters.
Adventures in Babysitting
Our first adventures in babysitting were lovely. Elliesofia and her friend Tiana* acted like they had never seen or played with each other before. This was home territory. Tiana was placing claim on her kingdom and Elliesofia was ready to pillage. It took about an hour and a half of mediated play and the magic of the doctor’s play set to bring the titans to peace. The baby held a minor protest when offered a bottle instead of a breast but quickly acquiesced when she noticed the options where quite limited.
Dinner or Musical Chairs for Parents
Four hours later our friends Jane and Carl* returned. They had a great time at their concert and asked if we wanted to go get dinner. Off we went making it clear they weren’t treating us. I was serious about the free part. We walked to Verde, an amazing pizza place in Canton. Wine was ordered, gourmet pizza was chosen, and the conversation flowed. This could have been date night with the exception of the parents who played musical chairs to attend to potty breaks, runny noses, flying forks, and spilled drinks. Used to what sometimes happens when eating with children. Undeterred, we continued to chat. In the midst of it all Tiana said,
“Why does Elliesofia have two mommies?”
“Because everyone has different kinds of parents. You have one mom and one dad, she has two moms,” said Jane.
There was no awkward silence or a well, you guys can answer that (which has happened both from people that we know and don’t know). It was a firm and clear statement with no frills. Those where the facts nothing more nothing less.
Tiana smiled and continued to play with her crayons. I mentioned how I appreciated the song we learned at The Walters Art Museum ArtTot’s class about families. Elliesofia heard me and asked me to sing it. I tried to hum but she wouldn’t have it. I broke out in song quietly but then Tessa and Jane joined in.
Sung to: Ten Little Indians
Some have fathers,
Some have mothers,
Some have sisters,
Some have brothers.
In some houses,
There are others.
Every family is special.
Our other halves looked intrigued. We explained and dinner went on. Thankfully we all still had our seats by the end of the dinner.
In the Mess of Things
Jane and Carl revealed it was also their first “alone” date in over two years. Lisa and I were shocked but somewhat happy that in the land of parenthood where sometimes everyone but you seems to have it together it’s nice to be honest and see that you have company in the mess of things.
We walked back to their house and gathered our things then parted ways with teary toddlers who by now where ready to have a sleep over after having tamed their toddler fears of toy takeovers. Jane and Carl thanked us for giving them a date night and for being baby Melanie’s first babysitters. Honored by the trust we offered a longer block next time. They did the same.
Shared Trust = Great Date Nights
Did you catch it? Those fifteen seconds of a question, affirmation, and celebration, was the community support I was seeking. In that moment where our children witness friendship and support through our actions, our smiles, our laughter, our sharing a meal and most of all in the trust we give one another when we accept help taking care of our most beloved beings, so that the parents can be together as a couple, we become a community. No, that doesn’t mean friends have to always be the babysitters but it helps to know, especially when family is not near or available, that we have help we trust making date night much more possible and, most importantly, more fun.
How did you achieve date nights/days/hour with your other half? Share with us below ideas, tips, or success stories. Also like us on Facebook , or tweet us at #MamiMomPapiDad. Thank you.
*Names were changed for privacy.
This is a writer’s process blog. Here I share snippets of interviews and stories as I create and venture the writing life. I welcome you to peek into the world of some curiously dedicated people and loving families. Leave behind your thoughts, constructive feedback, encouragement, and words of wisdom.
Live life with joy and love.
Catalina Sofia Dansberger Duque