We drop the boys off at Nina’s house for a cousin’s sleepover. With a day of freedom, we find ourselves doing normal things like running, cleaning, napping. While we could get away with eating dinner later than usual as little tummies wouldn’t be growling for food at 4:30 in the afternoon, we eat at “Old People Early,” finding ourselves back home before 7:00 in the evening.
We change our clothes, harness the dog and head out the country road.
The dog walks along the road so well now, heeling when we tell her and walking ahead without pulling us down the road when we let her have some leash. It is actually enjoyable to take the dog on a walk now instead of a lesson in patience. We comment on the ways she has changed since she came home with us almost one year ago. She’s grown, that’s for sure.
I think back over the past year; I smile. We have grown and changed and laughed and cried and all of the things over the past year. More than just adding a dog to our little family. More than just aging another year. Maybe part of the way I feel falls back onto how my husband has supported me through some hard things, through my half marathon training, through everything. Maybe I don’t need a reason to be so in love with my family, with my partner, with this life.
We walk together, our voices quiet as we listen to the symphony of late summer bugs and leftover evening birds. A squirrel skitters across the road; the dog sniffs. A cat runs back toward a house; the dog pulls a bit at the leash. We laugh, and I catch his eye. We breathe the relaxed breath of two lovers on an evening walk with their dog, knowing their children are well cared for by a grandmother.
Once upon a time, I believed Date Night meant going out and doing all of the things and spending all of the money and staying out until all of the hours. We go out, but we only do some of the things. We spend some of the money, but we get home early; we’re usually home before the time that I would start getting ready to go out back in my college days. Nature hikes were acceptable for dates back in the day, of course, but only in a larger context. Walking the dog for a mile or two before heading back to sit on the deck to sip a beer and talk about our lives surely wouldn’t have constituted as a date.
Nowadays, date night is any time that we have together doing something we want to do without the presence of small children. Sometimes date nights are so few and far between or plans change at the last minute and we suck it up and have a date in the presence of these children we have made and are charged with caring for over the next couple of decades. Sometimes date nights mean planning. Sometimes date nights follow the unplanning path. Sometimes date nights are just about breathing.
But date night is always about being together.
I like date nights in our 30’s better than any date nights ever before; I can only imagine that they’ll continue to get better as we grow older… together.