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The Date Night Out

January 6, 2012

With a Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse gift card collecting dust on a shelf, Bryan and I decided to have a long-overdue night out during our December winter break. A date night, we thought. We’ll get dressed up, enjoy a delicious and leisurely meal, and take a jaunt to the bookstore. Yes, this would be our child- and animal-free evening. And while the evening was certainly enjoyable, I have to say that bliss is pretty darn hard to come by as you have kids (and pets) and grow older. Let me explain what I mean.

Sophie was beyond excited to have her former camp teacher babysit. In Sophie’s four years, this is the first time someone other than a family member has stayed at our home alone with her (and the four 4-legged creatures). I had no worries about said sitter and I knew Sophie would be in good hands.

Yet I found myself explaining every detail to her. Things like where the bathroom is; Sophie’s routine; dinner arrangements; my cell number; how the television works; where the dishes are located; dessert options; you name it – I covered it. I later remembered that this sitter took care of Sophie at day camp every day for eight weeks over the summer. So why did I feel the need to tell her everything?

Meanwhile Bryan’s biggest concern is whether he should tell the sitter where the house’s main water shut-off valve is located in case of emergency plumbing problem. Of course that’s not even on my radar. Leave it to the man to think of that detail.

We arrive at Ruth’s Chris and are seated right away, and we order our delicious dinner from a very personable, yet somewhat chatty, server. Don’t get me wrong; he’s very nice. But I’m out on a date, people.  And I really have absolutely no desire to listen to — or speak with — anyone else.

Ah, dinner arrives! For once I could sit down and eat a meal without interruption. No Sophie telling me she doesn’t like the food. And cats meowing at me. And dogs needing to be let outside and back in (and outside and back in … you get the idea).  FOR ONCE, I wanted a quiet dinner where people did not bother me.

Perhaps this was too much to ask for because our waiter, the restaurant manager, and several other servers made countless trips to our table asking, “Is everything tasting okay?” or “Everything all right?”

At what seemed like the 20th interruption, I really thought I was going to explode and say something like, “EVERYTHING IS FINE! LEAVE ME ALONE. FOR ONCE I WANT TO EAT IN PEACE AND YOU’RE NOT HELPING!”

Here we thought we had to get away from the kids and creatures. Turns out the wait staff are just as annoying!

But I didn’t do that. I took a few deep breaths and focused instead on the paid-for dinner I did not have to cook, and relish in the fact that I was at a restaurant and wasn’t expected to get up three times during my meal to take Sophie to the bathroom.

We finished up our dinner and headed to the bookstore to peruse the shelves.  I, of course, found several books I must read. (NOTE: Do not start reading books you’re not planning to buy. You’ll just want to keep reading and find yourself staring at said book on Amazon until you succumb and buy it.)

By the end of the date, both Bryan and I are missing our little Sophie and decide to head back home. We thank our sitter for the night and say good-bye. And then the dogs need to go out. And the cats start going crazy. And Sophie has a meltdown when we tell her she can’t eat goldfish crackers after she’s just brushed her teeth at bedtime. … Welcome home!

Needless to say, Bryan and I had a very nice evening. It was relaxing, we were able to converse for an entire meal period, and the food was wonderful. And it really was great to be alone with each other for a few hours. Still as I said before, with our crazy cast of characters, I’m not sure bliss will ever be attained in one night out. Maybe next time we’ll try for a weekend getaway.

47 Comments leave one →
  1. January 6, 2012 3:43 am

    Go for it! You might like to read the book about Ruth Chris Steak House-
    Goriila Man & the Empress of Steak- Randy Fertel’s memoir– I wrote about it.
    Also.. I hate all those interruptions while eating at a restaurant. They should know that if I’m not happy, I’d tell them, or just not return.

    • January 8, 2012 11:02 pm

      Thanks, I’ll check out your blog post on Ruth’s Chris. I don’t know much about that restaurant so should be a good read.

  2. January 6, 2012 4:03 am

    Date nights take practice!

    I totally have been just where you are … looking forward to being out and then spending your time giving details to the capable and listening to restaurant blather. Can’t tell you the times we’ve left, come back home, put on OUR music, adjusted OUR heat and enjoyed ourselves even more.

    Fun post!

    • January 8, 2012 11:03 pm

      Thanks, MJ. It’s such a tough thing. You want to get out, yet you end up missing the comforts of home. I guess that’s middle age, right?

  3. January 6, 2012 4:21 am

    It was lucky you had the gift certificate, otherwise you might’ve ended up thinking about the cost, like I inevitably do! We never did get the hang of date nights…. never seemed to live up to the expectations. Honestly, we got to the point that we’d just sit in our car and talk — didn’t take as long to get there, much more private, and no interruptions. As you said, it’s just nice to be alone once in a while!

    • January 8, 2012 11:04 pm

      OMG Julia, we have seriously thought about just hanging out in the car together. Or dropping Sophie off at school and taking a nap. Somehow that sounds more appealing than a fancy evening.

  4. Wendi permalink
    January 6, 2012 5:31 am

    Okay – one giant glaring mistake for date night. Never, I mean NEVER, go home before the sitter has put the kid to bed!!! I remember the first time Kayli babysat for us, we pulled into the driveway and Lorelei’s bedroom light was still on. We sat in the car debating on whether or not we should just pull right back out of the driveway and waste another half hour before going in. We ended up going on in and it turned out that Lorelei had told Kayli she slept with the lights on. We laughed – and were relieved! Not having to put the kids to bed is one of the highlights of having a date night, in my opinion!

    • January 8, 2012 11:04 pm

      That is so funny, Wendi! And thank you for the tip. We’ll definitely remember that for the next date night.

  5. January 6, 2012 6:08 am

    I get annoyed with an overzealous wait staff as well — but I also get annoyed when we get no attention, so I guess it’s just about balance! Glad y’all were able to get out and have some couple time!

    • January 8, 2012 11:05 pm

      I think you’re right, Caryn. It is a balance. Because if they never came by, I’d be irritated too. Oh well, I guess polite is better than being ignored, right?

  6. January 6, 2012 6:34 am

    We don’t go out very often, either and unexpected nuisances often disrupt our evening. I think date nights take practice. Maybe we’ll have to try going out more, not less. 🙂

    • January 8, 2012 11:05 pm

      Good point, Shary. We’ll just need to go out more 😉

  7. January 6, 2012 7:20 am

    I agree with an above comment- don’t come home while the kids are still awake!! We tend to go out just before bedtime so the sitter doesn’t have much to do. And yes, weekends away are even nicer- more time to sleep in and relax 🙂

    • January 8, 2012 11:06 pm

      Oh, that’s a good idea, Erin! I remember that strategy when I used to babysit and loved putting the kid to bed and just chilling.

  8. January 6, 2012 7:30 am

    Been there, done that! What usually happens for Dan and I is that we spend most of (if not the entire) meal TALKING about our kids. YOU can never escape. I am glad you got out, you should do it more often!

    • January 8, 2012 11:06 pm

      Oh Lena, I didn’t even write that part — that we talked probably most of the time about Sophie!

  9. January 6, 2012 7:39 am

    This brings back so many memories of similar stories when our kids were little. I absolutely loved those days and treasure every one of the memories, but I can honestly say, I’m glad they are over. I don’t have the energy anymore :>) But the one thing I do wish I could have done over is to have MORE date nights. We got caught up in the chaos of kids, pets, house, life, etc., that we rarely took the time. We both wish now that we would have.

    • January 8, 2012 11:07 pm

      I appreciate that perspective, Susan. I tend to air on the less time out and more time with family. I often wonder if that’s a good thing or not. Your insight is appreciated.

  10. January 6, 2012 10:14 am

    Ha… Nothing worse than an overly attentive waiter. Sounds like a lovely evening, despite those interruptions!

    • January 8, 2012 11:07 pm

      Thanks, Melissa. And it really was. The food was incredible!

  11. January 6, 2012 11:38 am

    I have been through this scenario so many times Leah! My husband and I would be desperate to have some time alone together, but by the time we’d left all the instructions (all though I must admit the shut off valve for the water was never one!) decided which restaurant to go to and got seated, we were already missing the kids! We usually spent the entire night talking about them, and when we got home there had inevitably been ‘issues’ with the eldest, so it was a rare event for us to leave home. Now I miss them dreadfully, which proves the grass is always greener on the other side!

    • January 8, 2012 11:08 pm

      I totally relate, Elizabeth! We talked about Sophie most of the time and did indeed miss her by the end of the evening. As you said, there is no perfect scenario, is there?

  12. January 6, 2012 11:45 am

    When Sophie gets a little older you can have a date night in and it will be much better, I promise. We often get a sitter for the girls, give her cash and have her take them to the movies and out for ice cream afterwards. It’s cheaper than going out and we get to sit at home and hang out together without any interruptions. I often go get a gourmet dinner to bring home so we can eat at our own dang table in our own timeline but not have to cook or do dishes. In the summertime we send the kids to a matinee and get to hang out in our own backyard reading in the sunshine and sipping margaritas without worrying about having to drive home. Try it!

    • January 8, 2012 11:09 pm

      That is a GREAT idea! I love the idea of being at home with my husband and just enjoying the quiet together. This may just be our next date night (or day)!

  13. Lorena permalink
    January 6, 2012 1:20 pm

    Oh, how I know your pain, Leah! Before baby, I never thought I’d be SO happy to be able to eat with two hands, let alone outside the house…When Tony and I went out for his birthday during the break, it was pure bliss with just the two of us. Until I realized how much I missed Lou and wondered if he was driving my sister crazy…

    Also, as far as books go, before succumbing to Amazon, see if the local library has it. I’ve found both the county and city library systems to be great for satisfying the urge to “read without buying,” especially if I’m “iffy” about a book to begin with. While they don’t have new books immediately, they do get them within a month or two of their release date. It’s really easy to search both systems’ catalogs, request something, have it delivered to your selected branch and check it out for three weeks. While that time span may seem restrictive, I find that if I don’t read through a book in that span of time, I’m not very interested in it anyway. Of course, you sometimes have the option of renewing for another three weeks, which is great for longer tomes or references. Happy reading!

    • January 8, 2012 11:11 pm

      It does get easier Lorena, although this post probably doesn’t show it. What’s nice is that now Sophie can actually explain things to the sitter, like where the cups are and what she wants to eat.

      Thanks for reminding me about the library too. I forget about that resource so much and I shouldn’t. I sometimes find myself checking books out from our campus library too.

  14. Samara permalink
    January 6, 2012 3:06 pm

    Your lovely babysitter would love to have Sophie for a weekend sometime! Hope the next date night is more peaceful.

    • January 8, 2012 11:11 pm

      Thank you, Samara! And it really was a great night and we wouldn’t have had it without you! Believe me, we will be calling you again soon!

  15. January 6, 2012 3:07 pm

    Ugh I know what you mean. This is part of the reason I’m not a fan of restaurants. There is also way too much for me to look at and talk about that I can’t ever feel like I’m having an intimate meal with the other person. At least you got out of the house and did in fact have no children or animals on your person 🙂

    • January 8, 2012 11:12 pm

      Thanks, Sara. Somehow I knew you’d understand my annoyances. Despite the wait staff, it was a great meal that I didn’t prepare. And getting out was nice too.

  16. January 6, 2012 3:18 pm

    How awful that they kept interrupting the two of you! That’s so annoying when that happens. I would do an anonymous call and let them know how bothersome you found it.

    • January 8, 2012 11:12 pm

      Good idea, Cynthia! I felt bad because on one hand, the waiter was very nice. But on the other, it was just too much!

  17. January 6, 2012 5:26 pm

    Oh Leah, what a bummer! I tell you, it’s like Murphy’s Law–there’s always something! I’m glad that in spite of the interruptions, you were still able to have quality conversation with Bryan. Your comment on him wanting to tell the sitter about the main water shut off valve made me laugh out loud. How like a man! I’m sure this was quite an adventure for little Sophie as well. I can only imagine how much she had to tell you when you got back! 🙂

    • January 8, 2012 11:13 pm

      Oh Sophie had a blast! Which I knew she would with the sitter that she just adores. They even made arts and crafts!

  18. January 6, 2012 9:20 pm

    Isn’t it amazing how much you miss the routine of things? It sounds like a lovely night out and nice to get back to your regular life! FUN read, Leah!

    • January 8, 2012 11:13 pm

      Thanks, Ann. I’m afraid I am a sucker for routine!

  19. January 6, 2012 9:54 pm

    Sounds like a memorable evening. But it’s always nice to go back home to relax… 😉

    • January 8, 2012 11:14 pm

      Yes, that is true. Relaxing at home is such a luxury these days!

  20. January 6, 2012 11:21 pm

    How funny that the wait staff wouldn’t leave you alone. Maybe next time you should just invite them to join you! 😉

    • January 8, 2012 11:15 pm

      Seriously! I knew you’d understand my plight.

  21. January 7, 2012 8:06 am

    I know what you mean about the waiters asking about the meal– they’re trying to be courteous and do their job, but they always seem to interrupt me right when I’m in the middle of expressing a deep thought– or, even worse, when I’ve just taken a giant bite of food. You can’t fault them, as they’re trying to help, but it can be really annoying, especially when you don’t get a “date night” very often! 🙂 I’ve heard Ruth’s Chris is very good, but I’ve never been. Hope you enjoyed the meal, at least!

    • January 8, 2012 11:34 pm

      That is EXACTLY right. Most of the time I was in mid-sentence when the arrived. And I know, it’s not their fault and I’d rather have a courteous server than a rude one. And of course, the food was incredible. So I highly recommend the restaurant.

  22. January 8, 2012 2:15 pm

    Oh Gosh! Boo on that server. I’m glad you made it out of the house!! I think a weekend get away sounds perfect. But where on Earth would you rather be than in sunny California in the middle of winter??!!

    • January 8, 2012 11:35 pm

      How about sunny California in winter in a hotel away from the chaos 🙂 Just kidding.

  23. January 9, 2012 8:32 am

    Thanks for reminding me of how important a night out with a spouse is….

  24. January 10, 2012 10:51 am

    Date night is always hard! The balance between enjoying your partner and missing/worrying about your child is difficult to achieve. I’m glad you enjoyed your evening!

  25. January 11, 2012 12:43 pm

    No matter how much you love your kids, being a couple out on a date is special and so needed. Hope you have more and that they are a little more relaxing than this one.

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