I wasn’t sure what to expect when a fellow mum and good friend of mine began telling me in hushed tones, about a disappointing ‘date night’ with her husband.
They had booked a table at a fancy restaurant in the city, arranged a babysitter and got dressed up for their once-in-a-blue-moon night out. They wrangled their toddler into bed after his bath, dinner and story time; tidied up the kitchen, ran through the ‘in case of emergencies’ list with the babysitter, and FINALLY left the house ready for a relaxing child-free night.
They arrived at the swish chef’s-hatted establishment and were about to breathe a sigh of blessed relief and order a wine, when they were seated next to – you guessed it – a couple with a baby.
My friend went on to confess:
“I felt so conflicted because while I know what it is like to be a parent, we had just left our little person behind for a night of freedom and honestly my heart sank when I saw that pram. I couldn’t say anything or ask to be moved, instead I swapped sympathetic and reassuring ‘we’re parents too’ smiles when the baby cried.”
“On the whole, the baby was pretty good and the parents were clearly trying their best to keep him quiet with cuddles and milk, but it did take the edge off our child-free night out. Watching from afar, I’m not sure that the couple were having all that much fun either.”
I totally relate to my friend’s conflicted feelings; I empathise with parents trying to ‘act normal’ and go out with their sweet baby, but I have also suffered a touch of heart-sink when sat next to one.
Perhaps it was a special anniversary and the couple's babysitter pulled out last minute, perhaps they couldn’t afford a babysitter and wanted to spend their hard-earned cash on beef cheeks and a good Cabernet Sauvignon instead. I get it, going out for a meal as a family has presented us with dilemmas too.