What I Want My Kids To Understand About Date Night

by Lisa Barr
Originally Published: 
Sam Bloomberg-Rissman

Dear Kids,

This may be hard to believe, but I was once a woman — not just a mom, not just a walking-talking to-do list. I was once considered hot, could rock a thong and do a mean pirouette in stilettos. TMI? I so get it. No kid wants to think of their mom having sex, or worse—don’t plug your ears—enjoying it.

And no kid wants to know that her mother writes sex scenes in her books and gets paid for it.

Guilty on both counts.

Reality check: My daily thoughts are divvied up as 90% about you/your siblings/your dad/the dog/the house and 10% about me and my needs, as in, you are centerstage and I’m the roadie. I’m not complaining, just telling you like it is, how I’ve sliced the pie. I’m the mom who was always home after school when you got home, wrote while you were in school, early mornings before you awoke and late at night while you were sleeping, never missed a single dance performance, kept up my end of the carpool shlep, and always brought the forgotten book to school when you left it on the kitchen table – that mom.

And I love being her, the one you can count on for everything … but “Date Night’ is about me, not you. Date Night is my way of clinging to my womanhood and taking a once-a-week night off of motherhood, an area of my life I cherish, but admittedly, drains me. By the time I get into bed, the last thing I want is a “Netflix and chill” – I just want the Netflix, because I’m so tired from the daily Mommy Marathon. But “Date Night” is my one weekly non-negotiable – that’s when I remember who I once was, and Dad remembers the Me he fell in love with. I dress up, shower, shave, blow out my hair, brighten my lipstick, wear something black unbuttoned one too many, and don my big earrings, and most importantly, I flirt with my husband—yes, your Dad. Sounds gross? God knows, I need it. He needs it. We need it.

Put down your cell phones and listen up: Date Night is about me, not you. My books are about me, not you. I need them both to remember that there’s a side of me that, yes, still belongs to me.

Marriage is beautiful, but tough. You can get lazy if you’re not on top of it. There are those trying moments when your dad and I fight about stupid crap—you did this/I did that/you should have/you didn’t/it’s always about you/what about me—when you kind of hate the person you took on for better and for worse. There are those days when you stop seeing your spouse as a permanent boyfriend/girlfriend, but rather as furniture; part of the house, a lived-in fixture. Or, worse, invisible, like that gorgeous piece of art you once loved so much at first, that you had to have, treasured, and then as time passed, it becomes just another picture on the wall. You no longer stop to admire it or see the colors. Date Night is our time to admire the us we once were and still want to be, separate from being your mom and dad.

There are moments as your mom when I feel like I want to pull a Thelma and Louise and keep on driving into the abyss, but I don’t, when you tell me I’m annoying, or make fun of something I said at the kitchen table, or comment that my eyes look baggy, or point out a random gray in my hair (as if I need the reminder) when I am so desperately trying to cling to the last vestiges of my youth. And yes, parenting is physically and mentally exhausting—especially as a mom of three daughters.

But then comes The Other, those golden moments when you curl up to me, or I’m your first call that you got the grade you worked so hard for, or the boy you wanted to text and Snapchat and OMG you did, or that you feel sad/stressed/angry (or all three), and know that I’m the one to make it all better and tell you just how wonderful you are, that life is hard, Girl Drama sucks, you are enough, and to remember to stay on your path.

Date Night reminds me to stay on mine, to take care of the Me separate from you—so that I’m a better mom, a better wife, a better human.

Date Night is not an evening out, it is really an evening in—reminding me that I’m still a passionate woman with fire still kindling, and that the man I chose to be with for the long haul still sees me that way. That your dad still has “that look” – a twinkle in his eyes as he gazes at me over wine and sushi the way he used to when we first met, the way I always want him to look at me. It’s not just a parents’-night-out from all the madness; it’s really a We-Still-Got-It.

Most importantly, as parents, it’s the best modeling we can do — gifting you with the knowledge that it’s not all about you, and marriage is not a Happily Ever After by simply pressing “Like” without the boots-to-the-ground attention it needs to keep growing.

So, my beautiful children, now blossoming into young women, you are and always will be the best part of my life … and it’s taken me years of therapy to realize this, but so am I.

Love, Mom

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