Every stage of parenting poses its unique challenges. Each fortnight mum-of-babies Rachel Pearce and and mum-of-teens Claire Musters compare notes on the ups and downs of everyday life. This time: date nights.
The date night that wasn’t, Rachel Pearce
“Muuuu-mmyyyyy! I’ve done a poo!”
These were not the words I wanted to hear from my toddler as I frantically got dressed with a teething baby attached to my breast. It was then that the doorbell rang. Our guests – a lovely couple from church – had arrived for our double-date dinner. My husband went to wrestle the toddler onto the changing mat, leaving me to meet and greet. I popped the baby down to finish dressing. Wailing ensued. “The baby’s crying,” my husband helpfully pointed out.
With my clothes more or less in place, I whisked the baby downstairs and threw open the door. My guests were a little shocked to see exposed flesh as my son tried to resume his meal in the hallway. I somehow managed to pour our friends a drink with one hand, by which time the toddler had run downstairs and was telling the couple all about her poopocalypse. “Oh, let her stay up for a bit,” my husband helpfully said.
At this point I scraped a burnt-looking dinner onto people’s plates and everyone politely ate while I rocked the baby back and forth in his buggy. The toddler jumped onto the buggy board at this point to make the task that little bit harder – and louder.
My guests were a little shocked to see exposed flesh as my son tried to resume his meal in the hallway.
A couple of hours later, our guests had left (“We won’t stay for dessert this time…”), the baby had finally fallen asleep in the carrier and the toddler was still singing in her bed. It wasn’t until I went to decant the baby into his cot that I found my husband sleeping diagonally across the bed, snoring loudly. Helpful.
I held the toddler’s hand until she could fight her sleep no longer before beginning the big clear-up. Oh well. There’s always next month!
The change of plan, Claire Musters
With two teenagers in the house, one currently needing extra support , date nights are hard to come by. But as those who do marriage prep for couples in our church (and even have a marriage book to our name) we absolutely know the importance of date nights. That’s why last week I was really excited as Thursday night approached.
I’d finally forged a plan: with one teenager going to youth group’s “homework club”, I could feed both teenagers early, then the other (older) one could be doing homework upstairs while we have a nice meal together downstairs.
I planned and prepped the meal, one of our favourites, then got started on the kids’ food. As I called upstairs that their dinner was almost ready, older teenager’s response was: “What, already? I’m not hungry yet.” (It was early and they had only just finished polishing off the remains of their lunch.)
I even resorted to a little begging: “But I’ve planned a nice meal and chat for me and dad – can you not just try and force your food down now?”
I tried all sorts of persuasion tactics (even reminding them how much they hated the smell of the food I was cooking us) but said teenager was not to be moved. When it was announced: “I’ll eat with you guys” I even resorted to a little begging: “But I’ve planned a nice meal and chat for me and dad – can you not just try and force your food down now?”
I then realised how ridiculous that sounded so swallowed hard, updated my husband and served up dinner for our youngest, sitting alongside them so they weren’t eating alone. Then, while hubbie became taxi driver to homework club, I set about finishing off food preparations, and poured us both a nice glass of wine.
Our date night ended up being a shared meal with our eldest child. Once I’d let go of my disappointment and frustration we did have a nice, relaxed time. And of course it reminded me of our need to be more flexible these days – which is why, in recent weeks, our date “nights” have been breakfast or lunch on my husband’s day off while the kids are at school!