Thursday, 22 November 2012

Our first date (post baby)

We have had a little bit of excitement in our lives recently (more on that later) so I'm a little slow to write about our first real date since we had the baby.

Last week my mother visited. Let me just start by saying that she did not stay long enough. If you are lucky enough have a mother that you like, as I do--because let's face it, we can love our parents and not really like them--do not take for granted the time that she spends with your children. Whenever I see a happy 50 or 60-something woman pushing a stroller my heart hurts a little bit, knowing those opportunities are few and far between for my own mother because of the geographic distance between us. But I guess it probably makes our time together all the more special. 

Despite being in a long-distance relationship with her grandson, my mother has spent some meaningful time with him, most notably when she stayed with us for a few weeks when he was first born, and the two weeks we spent together on the East Coast this summer. So that, along with the fact that she's a pretty terrific mother and person, puts her at the top of a very short list of people I would leave my son with at this stage. 

Alex and I had weeks to talk about what we would do on our night out. Becoming parents has undoubtedly been the best thing that has ever happened to us, but I'd be lying if I didn't say it has changed our lifestyle quite a bit. Living downtown and being so close to everything, we used to go out a lot. Whether it was to go to an independent movie at the artsy theatre down the street or enjoy a leisurely dinner out or just get a glass of wine somewhere, it always felt like we were still dating. Since our son came home, the closest thing to a date we have had is a meal out with the baby, somewhere not too quiet, pretty casual, where we can make a quick exit if need be. To be fair, we still go out a lot, but we can't really focus much on each other.

We decided to do a classic: dinner and a movie. When Alex got home we were scrambling to get ready to go out. We needed to move fast if we wanted to eat before the early show. (The late show? Really? When the baby wakes up shortly after 4AM? No.) I didn't want to go too fancy, because I wanted to feel very comfortable, but we still picked a spot that I would NOT consider baby-friendly. It's a cool little spot that does asian-inspired small plates. Afterwards we would go see the new James Bond movie, as Alex is a big fan and I think it's the kind of movie that's better at the theatre.

As we were leaving, the baby cried a bit, and I started to feel reluctant to leave. Maybe we shouldn't go? It felt like a scene straight out of a movie or sitcom. New parents leave baby for the first time and need to be reassured and pushed out the door. What a stereotype! But I honestly felt it. Not because of anything logical. I knew my mother had everything under control. It was like all of my instincts were telling me, "don't leave your baby". But chances to go out don't happen every day, so we left.

At dinner, it kind of felt like a first date, because we hadn't done anything like that in so long. But WE didn't feel like a first date. There were no awkward pauses, no struggle to maintain conversation, no pressure. It felt great to be just us, and be reminded what great friends we are, completely separate from being parents. We barely talked about the baby at all, although I felt his absence like a limb that had gone numb. Mostly it felt good to be out, doing something we hadn't done in such a long time. It probably sounds crazy, but I felt a bit like an impostor, like any moment, someone would stand out and point to me and yell, "you're not suppose to be out! You're a mommy!"

By the time we got to the movie, it was really starting to feel like a date. I got us seats at the back on the aisle while Alex bought snacks. Just as the previews were starting, my phone vibrated. It was my tenant (I rent out the condo I bought before Alex and I were together) so I had to take it. I stepped out, and spoke to her. She had lost her keys, and needed my set. When I told her how long I would be getting them to her, she asked if I was away from home. I explained that Alex and I were out and she insisted that she could stay where she was and work until we got out of the movie. I really didn't want her to have to wait that long, and the keys were at home anyway, so I called my mother. I felt silly calling--she was going to think I was checking up on her--but it was for a legitimate reason. I let it ring a LONG time. There was no answer. Tried again a second time, no answer. I calmly told myself that my mother is in her 60's, her hearing isn't great and her phone might need to be charged. Everything was fine.

I went back into the theatre and caught the first big chase scene before my phone vibrated again. Seriously?  This time it was our realtor. We had put in an offer on a house that day, and he heard back from the other side. We discussed for a bit, I gave him instructions and told him I would confirm by text once I spoke to Alex, and went back in the theatre and gave him the update. Sent the realtor our instructions and tried to figure out how James Bond had survived that first scene.

I probably made it halfway through the movie, was introduced to the villain and everything, when my phone vibrated again. Call display said it was my mother. I didn't really panic--it takes me a while to process things, so I rarely panic--but I knew there was always a slight chance that something was wrong with my son. I answered the phone, it was my father on the other line and I had a head slap moment. I had called my mother's HOME number earlier, not her mobile phone. My father was in the barn, so he missed the call. He felt bad to have interrupted our date, but it was entirely my own fault.

Still thinking about my tenant, locked out of her apartment, I called my mother's mobile number--she picked up right away--and had her look for my spare key. I then called my tenant to tell her she could pick them up and called my mother to confirm. To my mother's credit, her phone was charged and within easy reach throughout the night.

I caught most of the second half of the movie and Alex filled in the blanks on the way to a little dessert place on the way home. We got home to find out that my mother and her little man had a wonderful evening. He easily drank the pumped milk we left for her and had been sleeping since she put him down.

I was so happy to see him the next morning. I had a good time out, but I had missed him.

All in all, I received three calls and made four during our date, which I assure you is a personal record. I arranged for a pick-up, negotiated a real estate deal and spoke to a confused father. It wasn't exactly the care-free kind of dates that we had in the past, but it certainly wasn't James Bond material either. I guess that's how life will be from now, a bit of a balancing act. Doing my best to be present in whatever role I happen to be in at that moment (employee, partner, mother, daughter, friend), without compromising the others. I'm not saving the world, but there is still some fancy foot work required of me now and then. 

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