Our First Date

A recent conversation about our upcoming Friday wedding anniversary went something like this:

Max: So, what are we doing for our anniversary?

Me (swiveling my head from whatever it was I was doing): Hah?

Max: What do you want to do?

Me: You mean, like what restaurant I want to go to, or how we should spend the day? (with a “Oh, not that question again” undercurrent)

Max: I mean, do you want a present? (with the same tone you would ask “Would you want to eat that day old bread?)

Me: Wha – what the – how am I – what I am supposed to say to that – you don’t ask someone if she wants a present – do you want a present?

Max (shaking his head): No. No, I don’t.

Me: Seriously – is that a “no” like my mom’s no? That is, are you saying no only to get upset later if I really don’t get you anything?

Max: No, I really don’t want a present.

Which really is true coming from him. I had forgotten; that was me I was talking about in terms of saying no and then getting upset later.

Me: Okay, good, because I really have no idea what I’d get you.

We’ve come a long way.

Ten years ago, it took me three days just to pick out an outfit for a date with Max. Getting ready would begin the night before, when I experimented with different hair styles and make up applications. A year-and-a-half later, on our first wedding anniversary, we were at Nobu’s in Tokyo, ringing up a check that was higher than our current monthly car payment. I think, too, that jewelry was in the picture.

Extravagant, romantic celebrations were the way we had marked our anniversaries. As a couple wildly in love, we did everything by the Hollywood book: candle lit dinners, tropical vacations.

Until we became parents.

We celebrated our third anniversary when Fred was two months old. I craved and missed our old life terribly, and arranged to have a sitter rock Fred to sleep while Max and I slipped out to a restaurant nearby. To this day I remember the crab, the stillness of a restaurant without children, and the pit in my stomach. Does the sitter know what she is doing? Has Fred fallen asleep? I kept stealing glances at my watch while forcing myself to smile and bask in my 2-hours’ worth of freedom.

That evening date became the last one we ever took.

Just like I had mistakenly thought I’d stay thin forever, I thought, too, that we’d be romantic forever, immune to the stress and desexualization of so many new parents. Part of it was fatigue and scheduling, part of it was culture (our parents never hired sitters). Anniversaries became whole family affairs – Max, me, and Fred. At first it was just the way the cookie crumbled, then one day, it became the way we liked it. How could we celebrate our marriage without celebrating our parenthood? One became the other, and both became the same.

This year, our friend Natasha (not her real name, but she told me that if I were to ever write about her, to please use the name Natasha) has graciously offered to host a playdate between her daughter Isabelle and Fred so we can go out on our anniversary. Gasp. This meant we “should” think of somewhere nice to go, that we’d have to spend money, money that seems better spent toward Fred’s college fund. But we are so used to being with Fred. We can go out during the day when he’s in school. My friends tell me, “No but’s!” In the end, we accepted Natasha’s offer, because we wanted Fred to enjoy his date with Isabelle and because we wanted Natasha and her husband, er, Sergei to feel comfortable leaving their daughter with us if they ever wanted a night on the town.

 Wow. Our first date. We’ve already chosen the restaurant and booked the reservation. It’s Wednesday. Maybe I should start picking out my outfit now. And arranging my list of emergency contact numbers.

17 thoughts on “Our First Date

    • Yeah, I know there are some sad stories out there (extramarital affairs, etc.) related to couples drifting apart. They say it’s not hatred but indifference that kills marriages/lead to infidelity.

      Thanks! I am looking forward to dinner without having to say “Could you please sit up” “Could you please get up from under the table” every 3 minutes…;-)

  1. I think I did it wrong. I took our kids on our anniversaries. I shared our special day with them. That was what I wanted. I wanted to all be together.

    I’m not sure I would do the same thing again. Having said that, this summer Tom and I will celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. On that date our sons need to be in Atlanta for Fencing Nationals. So, I guess we’ll be spending our 20th as a family of four. And I am delighted.

    There has to be a balance. I just haven’t figured it out.

    By the way, both my kids want to live in Tokyo–their favorite city. Of course, I could have gone with just my husband, but no I wanted to enjoy the adventure with the kids. They loved every minute of it and so did I.

    • It really is so hard to separate marriage from parenthood, I feel, and I am thinking that there are different ways to remain connected to your partner. If you look at the big picture, we do get to be with our spouses for the entire adult life time that we have known them. Our time with our children is so limited though. The expectation is that they eventually break away from us as their main source of support but our spouses are tied to us for life. If you were happy traveling or celebrating your anniversaries with your children, I think it’s wonderful! And happy 20th anniversary to you!

      Oh, I broke my mom’s heart when I went to Tokyo 😦 But I will always be grateful to her for letting me go (that is, letting go of me). In the end I couldn’t see myself there permanently and raising a child there, but it was an *incredible* experience. I highly recommend it! I think that is so great that you all visited and hope that you will have a chance to go back 🙂

  2. Keep up your dates with Max!! Hubby and I try to get out at least every couple of months without the children, even for just a few hours. I feel bad not giving the sitter more work, but I overpay her whenever we use her – incentive for her to come back I hope.

    On our little getaways, we are always struck by how rusty we are. We don’t know how to make adult conversation any more. That is, not about the children, or family management issues. We end the date glad for the chance to connect. Even if it may have been imperfect, it was something. It usually puts us in a romantic mood too!

    Have a great time!

    • Thanks Laura! Wow – I am very impressed that you have kept up dates with your hubby! You are smart to do this early on, before you get *so* used to *not* dating (as we have). Alright, I feel encouraged and inspired – I am going to have a rockin’ good time tomorrow! 😉

  3. Good point – my parents never hired sitters either. But then again, they’re not “daters” and I always tagged along. What strange folk 🙂

    I’m so excited for you! It’s going to be wonderful. We have one planned this weekend too – a friend generously offered to sit for us because she really wanted us to go out. Well, who were we to argue? Maybe we’ll trade stories but save the steamy scenes for a Lust post or something 😉

  4. You still have to write (or publish) that Lust post!! I, for one, will not turn my eyes away. I am sick and voyeuristic that way.

    That’s exciting, so we will both have dates. I’m now telling all moms with younger kids to start early (with the dating), before they fall into a dateless rut!

    Have a great time!

  5. Cecilia, you are a wonderful writer. I really enjoy reading your posts.

    Enjoy yourself. Bask in dressing up and enjoying some quiet time with your husband. You deserve to spend some time together.

    • Thank you so much! I really appreciate your feedback. And I feel encouraged having received these comments; now I’m looking forward to tomorrow!

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