You just dedicated the last 6-12 months almost entirely to keeping a mostly immobile sack of flesh from dying, neglecting sleep and your own needs in the process. It’s been a while since you had a minute to connect with this person who you live with and because you both wisely realized that parents who can’t keep their hands off each other are better models for romance than parents who can’t keep their eyes on each other, you have decided you should grab dinner or see a show together. So it’s finally here, your first date night. You’re gonna postpartum like it’s 1999.
We’re proud of you because it’s not easy. Hormones released when your partner is with your baby bond her with the kid, not you. You are second banana. Well, tonight, your banana will be first again. Of course, your first date night after kids will not go as planned. It’s like New Year’s Eve or a Vegas trip, where reality almost never fails to put a damper on expectations. We’re here to assure you that it’s okay, to just roll with it. To help you prepare, here are eight things that will definitely happen on your first date night.
As you’re getting ready, the baby will sneeze, cough or spit up.
These are things that happen all the time. But because tonight’s the night, you will be hyper-aware and want to cancel. Don’t. And don’t feel guilty, either. Just take the baby’s temperature like you always do, and if there’s no fever, realize that nothing is seriously wrong and do this.
Your sitter will try to cancel.
Some major problem will materialize at the last minute. This is true no matter how many times you confirm with the in-laws, your neighbor’s teenage daughter, or with the service you found on Craigslist that you didn’t research because you had no time and they’re too convenient and they probably know CPR and have never killed anyone, right?
Whatever the problem is, be calm and pretend it’s solvable. Getting the sitter to your place is 100 percent of your battle right now. Once they’re over, it’s for good until you return home. Never in the history of babysitting has a sitter left a house with a baby in it. The reason they call it babysitting is because there’s a baby and they sit with it. They all understand this concept. Which is why you need to assure the sitter that you will stay in constant contact about whatever the problem is and then: IGNORE YOUR PHONES.
Yep, you read correctly. Going three hours without knowing for sure that your baby is still alive may seem unnatural when its every waking breath for the past 6-12 months has been monitored and live-streamed to you, but that’s exactly why you need to do it. You’ll live through it, and so will your baby.
The baby will stay awake and try to keep you from leaving.
A hysterical fit will transpire, so just figure it into the plan. You are leaving — something you have never done before but something your baby will innately sense because they’re wily little creatures — and you are replacing yourselves with a complete stranger who smells different. This is how a baby will perceive the situation, and that’s fine. But you know better, because you are not a baby.
Your plans for the evening will go wrong.
You didn’t tell her where you’re going. You made sure she would love it. You put it on your joint calendar as “surprise date night.” You even manscaped into that triangle she said she liked once. But the more meticulously you planned this, the more it will go wrong. There is a direct correlation. Either the dinner reservation will be lost, the outdoor concert will be rained out, or the lead actor she loves will be understudied. Something shitty will happen, because nothing you ever look forward to for 6-12 months ever lives up to your hope for it. (Remember The Phantom Menace?)
The important thing is — cue romantic music — not what you’re doing but that you’re doing it together. Even if all it turns into is a long walk in front of the place that won’t let you enter, just hold her hand, pay full attention to what she’s telling you, and prove that you can make your own fun.
The conversation will inevitably circle back to your baby.
Successful meditation, Buddhist monks say, is not ridding the mind of all thoughts but refusing to follow the ones that sneak in. Eventually, the thoughts will get the message and occur with less frequency and intensity. So, when either of you remember the first time your baby smiled or that time he urinated in your face, just laugh about it and move on. Change the subject to how beautiful she is. She probably doesn’t think of herself as attractive anymore (have you looked at yourself in the mirror lately?), and she will love to be reminded that someone still does – especially someone so conveniently located on the other side of the bed.
Everything will remind you of your baby. Everything.
Following the advice you just read won’t be easy, however, because you are actually suffering from Stockholm syndrome. You have been held hostage inside your home by an evil terrorist who forced you to wake up at 4 a.m. night after night, clean its poop, and then use your wife’s breasts instead of you.
A favorite song, hummus, the color blue — everything will remind you of your former captor. There doesn’t even need to be another baby around. But, of course, if there is, you will feel like shit for leaving a sitter in charge who wanted to cancel and then turning your phones off. So, of course…
At some point, one of you will sneak off to the bathroom and turn your phone back on.
Once upon a time, sneaking off to the bathroom was something you did together for a quickie. But now, it’s come to this. We hope it’s not you sneaking off, because we know you’re stronger than that! So follow her to the bathroom and talk her down. Joke about it. Maybe you’ll even be lucky/skillful enough to turn this into a quickie, for old time’s sake.
You will get home and things will be fine
You’ll apologize to — and tip — the sitter, check your baby’s pulse, and then prepare yourself to be reintroduced to sex. Because it’s going to happen. When it does, your mind will zoom to three months back in the hospital room when a wholly sexual, but not at all sexy act took place. This is natural. Your biggest bully in life wasn’t Charlie Greenvald in the fifth grade. It’s your own mind. Go ahead, let it mess with you. Be entertained by the attempt and then move on to what your body — and hers — need to do right now.