Our daughter is four weeks old. It’s a mad rush of excitement and confusion as we get ready for our first date night since the big event.
My wife and I are a flurry of limbs as we try to get ready and put our daughter down to sleep in time for our booking at the restaurant.
A stream of thoughts run through my head – do my parents know what to do if she wakes up? Of course they will, they raised me and I turned out all right (aside from the spasmodic tics and isolated burns). But what if she won’t settle? Toughen up, champ. People do this all the time. What’s with you tonight?
My wife seems OK. In fact, she seems better than OK. It looks like she hasn’t even had a baby (she has) and she’s gotten a reasonable amount of sleep lately (she definitely hasn’t). I decide to file these mysteries next to such inexplicable phenomena as UFOs and Bert Newton’s hair. I call this particular one: ‘Lady Witchcraft’.
She goes to sleep without any issues. It’s a minor miracle. My parents reassure us for the tenth time that they know how to check the baby monitor and everything will be OK. I consider us to be pretty easy-going parents but tonight is proving to be a real challenge. Sure, we’ve left our daughter with friends and family before this but usually only for a quick walk round the block. Tonight feels like a big occasion.
We say goodbye to my parents, tiptoe past her bassinet and open the front door. Freedom!! We have to restrain ourselves from becoming hysterical and dancing naked in the street.
We arrive at the Thai restaurant and begin our celebrations in style. Laughter and coconut rice fills the air. Wine is poured. Fish cakes are devoured. Feeling exhilarated, I fit three in my mouth at the same time. Life is good.
And then I catch a faint whiff of anxiety. For a moment I consider whether it might be the Tom Yum soup tightening my throat but I soon realise it’s something else. I can see in my wife’s eyes that it’s not just me. It’s that feeling of something important missing; feeling slightly lost or incomplete. We miss her deeply already and we’ve only been away for half an hour.
The conversation soon turns to our daughter and how she’s going. How we’re doing. There’s lots of smiles as we bask in the glow of a job so far well done; we’re new parents and everything’s going amazingly well. But the original rush we felt at the start of our night is fast disappearing. We want to see her again.
The rest of dinner is a blur. We skip dessert and head home to find my parents playing with our daughter in front of a blaring TV. I decide to file this one next to such inexplicable phenomena as Bigfoot and Lady Witchcraft.
We bid my parents goodnight and put her back to sleep. Our exhaustion precludes us from our pre-daughter-post-dinner celebratory activities. Life’s changed but we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Epilogue: We now go out on date nights on a regular basis and get out as much as we possibly can. In fact, these days we often have to be dragged back home or else told to stop dancing naked in the street.