Remember the good old days? You know, back when the stress of dating was due to wondering if a boy would ever ask you out on one? I remember those days. They really did stress me out. But, like most women over the age of motherhood now know; I didn’t know what stress was. 

Date night comes around about every other blue moon in our home.

Yes, we know the importance of date night and are deeply in love and committed to our marriage, but an “official” date night out can seem more difficult than climbing Mount Everest.

We live hours away from any family members and consider ourselves creative folks. Therefore, we do a lot of at-home dates.

I’m ashamed to say at-home dates they tend to involve me being at my last rope with the children, feeding them a box of macaroni for dinner and sending them to bed. My husband and I then cook the “real” dinner and eat together alone in front of the TV, without the children. Say what you will, but it is awfully romantic.

We’re word nerds, my hubby and I. To watch a show without noise and eat a meal without cutting someone’s food or reminding someone to “eat like a lady” is a mini vacation. We eat, watch and then pick apart the script of the show.

Are we the only ones who like to save the “good food” for mama and daddy every once in a while? Please don’t judge if we are.

Still, isn’t there something to be said about being with your husband without the buzz of a baby monitor in the background?

I’m just going to say it; this family life stuff is hard. Sometimes my husband and I long for the days before there were three children in as many years. I’m in love with being a work at home mama, I’m in love with my kids and this life, but sometimes I just don’t like it very much.

Family life is so, so hard.

Last week we needed a real date night. Not because we needed to reconnect, remind ourselves why we feel in love or any of those things. My husband are more in love and connect now than we’ve ever been. But the kids? Well, that’s another story. We needed a date because frankly, they wouldn’t be there.

A real date night out tends to get stressful. Firstly, because we don’t have any family around and childcare isn’t a part of our normal lives. Finding a babysitter is usually a problem. Once said babysitter is in place, date night can get costly and that hasn’t always been an option for us.

Lastly, date night can be stressful because we have to clean our house (at least beyond the “mortified if someone sees this” state) for the babysitter to come over. My husband and I have a shared OCD issue with having our home appear to be one where things aren’t peed on daily and food isn’t thrown or spat out at every meal. We’re classy like that.

This weekend was different. The babysitter locked down in less than five minutes - it must have been a miracle. My husband was also ok with just cleaning up and not actually cleaning for the babysitter. We may or may not have just locked the door to our messiest bathroom and asked the sitter to use the kids’ bathroom.

We left the house without a plan, and landed at a restaurant where we dined at the beginning of our relationship. It took us back to that place, when things were excited with possibility. We had a drink at the bar while watching the dozens of prom groups come and go. As we witnessed the embryonic stage of life-long dating we thanked God and each other that we’re beyond that place in life and now have each other. We then shared our meals with each other, not with little girls who lick forks. 

After dinner we popped into adoration. While dating we began every date with adoration. It was lovely to sit with the Lord, thank him for this date and this man, and pray we’ll have more dates to come.

We stopped at a gas station to pick up snacks and smuggled them into the movie theatre, because no matter how my husband advances in his career, he still won’t buy himself an over-priced box of Junior Mints at the theatre. We then stopped at the concession stand, because he knows I can’t go to the movies without popcorn and he is willing to buy me a tub. That’s real love folks.

After the movie we discussed the characters, the writing and the plot, and made suggestions to each other about things we would have done as writers to make the movie even better. I guess whether we’re at home for free or dropping a $100 out on the town, some things about our date nights will never change. And to me, that’s true romance.

One drink each, dinner, a movie, popcorn and a babysitter for three is what 100 bucks looks like these days. It was, by far, the best $100 bucks we’ve spent in a long time.

You can’t put a price on smooching in the car.  Still, $100 bucks – that’s a lot of diapers and wipes.

Copyright 2012 Holly Rutchik