“I have a surprise,” I announced one night during dinner.
My husband looked up at me, face turning to stone, as he waited for the proverbial other shoe to drop. I’d seen that look before-- four times to be exact; each time I told him I was pregnant.
Setting my fork down, and folding hands in my lap, I began. “You and I have a date on Saturday night, for your birthday.”
My husband, who unwittingly had been holding his breath, let it out with a satisfying woosh, like air out of a rapidly deflating balloon.
With a house full of small children and a life crammed with activities and chores, “Date Night” is a rare occurrence and something reserved only for special occasions.
“A date?” he blinked, searching his mind for the definition of a word he rarely heard anymore.
The days that followed my announcement were alight with excitement and anticipation. A sit-down meal without interruptions seemed heavenly. What would we do with all that uninterrupted meal time? Could we possibly have an unfiltered conversation, without worry of a nosey eavesdropper catching on? What would it be like without the incessant chatter of our girls, who continually ask for something to drink, extra helpings, or mid-dinner assistance with the potty? Would I miss sweeping strands of sticky spaghetti out of every crevice in a 3,000 square foot radius? And how would I cope with not having to spend two post-dinner hours cleaning up?
When my husband and I were just dating (which now seems like three lifetimes ago), getting ready was an all-afternoon affair. Choosing the right outfit, makeup, nail color, hair style, accessories and even the right sent of body lotion took hours of deliberate planning and experimenting. These days, I consider myself lucky if able to change out of my snotted- on- food-splattered-working- in- the –garden- all- day clothing. So when our babysitter arrived, I made a mad dash to the bedroom to get gussied up.
Seven-and-a-half minutes later I was ready. We had four-and-a-half minutes before our 6pm dinner reservations. After pulling into the parking lot, we walked in stride together, making our way to the quaint restaurant and patisserie nestled alongside Main Street. Sliding my hand into my husband’s, I felt something familiar tug at my heart.
A cheery-faced hostess greeted us at the entrance and sat us at a table for two next to the front window. Butterflies filled my empty belly as I wondered how this evening would go. In a moment, we were no longer parents of a brood, or long-time companions. We were 21 and 28 again, on our first date. A nervous giggle slipped from my lips as I sat next to the man I knew I would marry. Glancing sideways at him, I noticed the lack of grey at his temples and a thicker patch of hair at his crown.
We sat quietly, for some time, watching others dine, as if we needed to remember how to do it. Slowly, conversation began to flow. We relinquished control of the serving and doting to our waitress, rather than assuming our usual roles of servers and doters. The wine went down easily. A smile touched his lips and I found myself batting my long-forgotten eyelashes at him. I leaned over and pressed a soft kiss on familiar lips.
“Happy birthday, honey,” I whispered.
With full bellies, we dashed from the eatery and into the newly raining night. Giggling and splashing through puddles, we were young lovers again, the rain igniting our skin.
In the car I turned to him once more.
“I have a surprise.”
Again, the stone-faced reaction.
“The babysitter’s staying all night.”
His eyes searched mine, in puzzlement.
“We have hotel reservations.”
We both smiled.