I've Learned That When You're a Parent, There's No Such Thing as the Perfect Date Night

The other weekend, I realized that my husband and I hadn't gone out on a date in months — like six whole months. We used to take our date nights very seriously, but somehow, the busyness of our lives simply made us forget to schedule one. Sigh. And as we know, finding any kind of alone time as parents is often incredibly difficult, but still crucial nonetheless.

As we catapulted into parenthood, we were consumed with trying to keep that beautiful baby alive, thriving, and healthy. That alone was an enormous change in our marriage. But since having children, my husband and I have worked really hard to maintain our identity as a couple and make it a priority to keep our marriage strong. After all, we aren't just parents. But finding this alone time is pretty damn hard.

When you finally do carve out a date night, you want everything to go perfectly. You feel this pressure to make it count because it only happens every so often. And since my husband and I had let too much time slip by before having a date night, I definitely felt that pressure to make sure our date night was worthwhile.

So, I took it upon myself to arrange a babysitter and plan the perfect date night. I decided that my husband and I would explore a new city. I picked the perfect restaurant and the perfect cocktail bar for after our meals. Between dinner and drinks, I thought we could saunter between shops. But my plan for the perfect night quickly went awry.

Upon arriving in the city, we slid right into a parking spot. Hmm, I thought. Why was getting a spot so easy? It's a Saturday night, after all. We hopped out of the car and started walking on the sidewalk to our first destination, a swanky sushi joint.

Only, it was closed. "Closed?" I barked at my husband.

"That's weird," he said, shrugging his shoulders.

We stood there and looked up and down the usually busy street. There may as well have been a tumbleweed floating across the street, because no one was there. It was officially a ghost town. You see, we ventured out on a holiday weekend. But I never would have thought that businesses would be closed on a Saturday night. My heart dropped. It had been months since we had any alone time together without the kids and I didn't even take the date on the calendar into account. It was all my fault.

"It's OK," my husband said. "Let's just walk up and down and hope we find something is open."

I was grateful that he was still willing to give this date night a shot, but I still felt awful. Finally, we found an open bar. We moseyed in and there were actually a few people eating and having drinks. The lights were dim and the menu was pretty scarce, but my husband and I shared a few appetizers and we each had a drink. As our bellies grew full, our eyes felt heavy. Finding an after-dinner cocktail lounge (or anything else open, for that matter) no longer seemed appealing. We just wanted to go home.

On our way home, we drove in silence. But after a few miles, my husband reached over and grabbed my hand. He stroked it with his thumb, and that was all the reassurance I needed. When we got home, the kids had just gone to bed, so we still had the evening to make up for the botched date night. Maybe, just maybe, we could still fit in some romantic time. So, after paying the babysitter, my husband grabbed us each a drink and we nuzzled into the corner of the couch as we turned on Netflix.

But within 20 minutes, I had taken just two sips of my drink before falling asleep in the crook of my husband's chest. He woke me up after an hour or so with a kiss on the top of my head. "Thanks for the perfect date night," he said. "Now, let's go to bed."

There was no lovemaking that night, because, well, as parents, we were just too damn tired. But what I realized in this date night nightmare is that it wasn't a nightmare at all — in fact, date nights can be terribly overrated. The pressure of having the perfect date night is unnecessary, because the perfect date night doesn't exist. I realized that romance can be found in the monotony of our days, even the ones that feel like scenes from the movie Groundhog Day. All we really need is time to be together. Because sometimes true love is found right there in the family room, on the same couch you slope into each and every night. And there's nothing wrong with that.