Two summer vacations down, one to go. Myrtle Beach, the second of our jaunts this season, was, like last year, alternately exhilarating and exhausting. We spent nearly every day on the beach, chasing LM around to make sure he didn’t get swept away by waves. That kid is fearless. We attended animatronic dinosaur exhibitions, zoos and pirate boat rides — enjoyable because of the fascinated look on LM’s face, but not so much fun for ourselves.
Foggy Daddy and I, though, did make it out for one wonderful date night on the last night of our trip. Two hours of kid-free bliss. Where did we go? Wicked Tuna, of course, in an effort to avenge our previous date night semi-fail there last year. If you remember, at our previous excursion to that restaurant we were seated not at the choice tables along the deck’s railing with an uncompromised view of the marina, but at the tarp-covered section generally filled with large family parties. Horror of horrors! The last thing you want to see on a date night are large family parties, am I right?
I was determined not to let that happen this year. As we drove to the restaurant, I psyched myself up to request the table I wanted. I wasn’t going to take no for an answer, dammit! And then…I chickened out and made Foggy Daddy do it as I parked the car. But, he succeeded, sending me a text that read, “You will be very happy.”
OK, so it wasn’t the best table in the house (it was still right next to the family groups) but, after making FD switch seats with me, I had my view. Success!
My drink came out on time and was yummy.
My “dragon egg” appetizer was interestingly delicious, and somehow seemed apropos. (Maybe because I secretly consider myself a mother of dragons. C’mon, LM is a bit like an unruly, fire-breathing monster, isn’t he?)
And although FD’s appetizer didn’t come out on time (which is exactly what happened last year!), it made it out with the main meal, was yummy, and ended up scoring us a discount on the bill (at the waiter’s insistence, not ours).
So, overall, Wicked Tuna has made amends for the semi-fail of last year. Lessons learned: If you want something, ask for it, instead of stewing about it and writing a blog post later. Secondarily, stop making a big deal out of nothing. Appreciate that you even were able to do a date night in the first place. (Haha, who am I kidding? I’m a perfectionist, even about date nights.)
After dinner, we again strolled along the marsh walk. It was sunset, and we lingered in the fading light. People kayaked and boated on the water. I was oddly missing my kid-free life — ironic because back then, I would have given anything to have a child.
As we took one last selfie before leaving, I realized that my only date night regret was that it couldn’t have lasted longer.
How often do you get to go on date nights? Do you miss your pre-kid days?
Our week in Myrtle Beach was alternately terrific and terrible. Days at the beach were beautiful and calm, with LM playing in the sand or running into the waves. He enjoyed the pool, perhaps a little too much – trying to keep him from jumping in and drowning turned a relaxing swim into a stressful situation. But the worst of it was the sleeping – or lack thereof. Every night, without fail, he’d wake up, get out of his blow-up toddler bed and shake the gate in the doorway to his little room off the master bedroom where we were sleeping (OK, OK, it was a walk-in closet. What’s wrong with that? We kept the door open. No judging, please). Lest he wake up my in-laws in the next room, or the entire condo complex, we’d take him into bed with us. This led to him nursing all night long, and me not getting any shut-eye until my mother-in-law took him at 6 am. Then I’d sleep until 10 and bemoan the fact that half the day was wasted. All because of a little monster who normally sleeps through the night with no problem at home.
We were vacationing there at the same time as Foggy Daddy’s best friend and his family, so the four adults were supposed to have a double-date night with grandparents watching the kids. But due to unforeseen circumstances, FD’s friend and his wife couldn’t make it, so we decided to have a date night of our own. And I knew just the spot. On our first evening, we had gone to Wicked Tuna, a restaurant in my one of my favorite spots anywhere on earth, Murrell’s Inlet. It’s a collection of bars and restaurants along a walkway over the marsh, with live music, arts and crafts displays and general merriment. Somehow I had never been to Wicked Tuna, and when we were seated at a table along the restaurant’s outside deck railing, it was heaven – except for the fact that we had LM with us (in fact, we spent most of the night alternating taking him outside). The atmosphere was elegant and relaxed. Live music wafted up from the reggae band below. Our waitress brought out our oysters from the raw bar right away “so they would be really fresh.” It was a perfect spot to be sans kids. So for date night, I wanted to go back alone.
Well, let me give you some advice if you ever go to Wicked Tuna. Make sure you get a seat along the outer edge of the deck. The inner portion of the deck, while still outside, is under a covered tarp, and, as I learned when we were seated there for our date night, has a completely different atmosphere. It felt like a family joint, busy and loud and not elegant at all. Why oh why didn’t I say anything when the hostess showed me the way to our table while FD was parking the car? I had gone in before him to make sure we were on time for our reservation, but if I had just waited and parked with him, someone else would have gotten the table under the tarp and we would have gotten the table along the deck’s edge that opened up minutes later.
This is not a life-or-death problem. This is what they call a first-world problem. In fact it’s probably not even a real problem. Yet it continued to bother me all night. It bothered me that we were the only couple seated in that section – all the other tables were loud, big family groups. There were dirty napkins on the floor. The waiters rushed by, oblivious to the dirty napkins. Instead of the live band, all we could hear was pumped in crap from the restaurant’s sound system. I still had a sort-of view of the marsh, if I looked out over the heads of the noisy families and the lucky couples seated at the choice tables. Didn’t the restaurant know we we were on date night? Didn’t they know that we, as a party of two, would not want to sit among the crowd but rather where we could feel like adults in an adult world again? Why couldn’t I have just opened my mouth and said something while I had the chance?
Another person might have said, Screw it, I’m enjoying date night no matter where I am, because wherever that is, it’s away from my kids. But I see date night as once-in-a-blue-moon-so-it-better-be-perfect-dammit kind of thing. I tried to relax and forget about where we were seated. I tried to look on the bright side, that at least we got to experience the outer deck once on the trip, even if it was with LM. I tried not to chide myself for not speaking up. But the fact that our water took awhile to get our drinks, and then forgot our appetizer, didn’t make things any better.
I started to feel like Alexander from one of LM’s current favorite books, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day: “My drink was too strong and my risotto was too dense. There were dirty napkins on the floor and I hate dirty napkins. Foggy Daddy’s entree was better than mine and I didn’t like the music and the kids from the next table were too loud and it was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad table.”
FD thinks I’m crazy when it comes to tables in restaurants. If I don’t like where I’m seated, the whole meal is ruined for me. I considered it a huge achievement when, on vacation in Anguilla, we scored the best, literally, the best, table in the house at the famous restaurant Blanchards.
I think I have a problem.
After our appetizer came out at the same time as our entrees and I finished my dense risotto (I didn’t understand it – I had gotten a different risotto when we had been there before and it was perfectly creamy) and my strong drink (which likewise had been perfect before) we left our not-so-great table and walked along the marsh. People were listening to live music, wandering around with their drinks, playing corn hole, fishing and watching the boats come in. I finally began to relax and enjoyed the last minutes of our date night. It wasn’t a total fail. Just a semi-fail.
Are you chill during date nights or do you feel like everything has to be perfect? Do you just feel lucky to be out of the house without your kids?
Before I moved out to suburbia to start a family (which, because we didn’t have a child until eight years later, made me feel like I had been banished to the far reaches of the world) I lived in trendy, urbane Hoboken, NJ, across the Hudson from New York City. OK, so maybe it’s not as trendy as Brooklyn, but it’s still filled with bars, restaurants, and people. I do want my kids to be raised in the suburbs, like I was, but I often feel very isolated out here, especially because I don’t work outside the home. I miss the people, the hustle and the bustle.
I miss not having to get in a car to see my friends. I miss getting together for brunch, for dinner, for drinks. I miss pre-partying in someone’s apartment and then hopping in a cab or on the Path train to go to the city. Which is exactly why I was so excited to be having a real, honest-to-goodness night out for my friend’s birthday last weekend.
My parents came over to watch LM – they were staying over so we didn’t have to rush back – as I carefully decided what to wear. Back when I was a party girl, I wore jeans, or, if I really wanted to get dressed up, black pants. Now it seems like dresses are the way to go. I crafted an outfit very different from my every-day garb, and as I laid it out on the bed I caught a glimpse of my frumpy self in the mirror: yoga pants, oversized sweatshirt, rumpled hair (even though it was five o’clock), glasses. This is going to be a transformation, I gulped. I hope it works.
After showering, shaving, blowing out my hair and applying makeup (which always makes me feel like a clown because I hardly ever wear it; but then when I go out and compare myself to other women, I still look bare-faced), I put on my undergarments: Spanx, black tights and, ditching the nursing bra (hurrah!), one with actual underwire. I chose a black dress, black booties and a chunky necklace I borrowed from my mom (is that sad that she has more appropriate going-out jewelry than me?). I was ready to go.
My husband and I drove to Hoboken, luckily found street parking and went up to my friend’s apartment. Voices wafted down the hall as we approached the door, which opened to reveal old friends I hadn’t seen in years. But while talking to them, it felt like no time had passed – wasn’t it not that long ago that we had all gathered at that very spot before heading out to the bars? A visiting friend said that it felt like everything was no more than two years ago, although in reality it was more like ten.
I noticed that the other women were dressed in much the same outfit as me – mostly dresses, although there were a couple of fancy pants. I was glad I fit in. One of the men remarked that all the girls were wearing black, but then one friend exclaimed, “Not me! I’m wearing navy blue!”
We piled into cars to take us to the city. The squished-in cab ride also felt very familiar, and we joked and took selfies as we drove through the Lincoln Tunnel.
The restaurant we went to was Buddakan, known for appearing in the first Sex and the City movie. My friend informed us that the very table we were sitting at was the one that was featured in the film. This was not the first time I’d been to a spot that had appeared on the iconic show, but somehow it meant more to me now, as if it was a validation that I was still cool.
As we chatted, that sense of belonging you only get with old friends came over me. It’s hard to figure out exactly why we don’t see each other much anymore – some of us got married and (eventually, in my case) had kids, some didn’t; some moved away. But it’s difficult enough to keep up with our day-to-day tasks, let alone keep up with friends whose lives are different either in circumstance or geography.
I miss them all, though. I miss the feeling of being a part of something, of always having them to rely on, to hang out with, to go places with. I have a really great group of mom friends who I do those things with now, but they are still so new that we haven’t quite reached the level of companionship you have with people you’ve known for 20 years. Hopefully as our children grow those ties will be formed and I’ll have yet another gang of girls with a shared history and a deep bond.
We left the restaurant planning to go to a modern-day speakeasy, which my husband (aka Foggy Daddy) thought sounded pretty cool, but we ended up at another bar, which he did not. It was underground but played dance music (not FD’s thing), although it was not too crowded and there were places to sit. We danced and drank some more, but by this time it was after one, and FD said it was time to go. Feeling like a child being told what to do, I pouted, not wanted to leave my friends. But we said our goodbyes and got in a cab back to Hoboken, and from there drove back to the ‘burbs.
We didn’t get home until after three, which must be a record for how late I’ve gone to bed since LM’s been born (not that I haven’t been up at 3 AM; I just haven’t stayed up until that time). I rolled into bed, only to be awakened two hours later by my early riser. As I picked him up and we snuggled, I thought how much I had missed him in the hours we had been away.
Was it worth the tired fog I was in the next day? To return to the way things used to be for a night – yes, it was.
Do you have the same friends as before you had a baby? Do you sometimes miss having a different, pre-baby lifestyle?