Parenthood is full of surprises. If I had to list three of the biggest shockers I’ve encountered in the last 10 months, it would go something like this: 1) the amount of time I would spend discussing “poop” in those first few months; 2) the fact that I would willfully give up my beloved manual transmission car for the ease and roominess of a [gasp] minivan; and 3) the new meaning of the term, “date night.”
A mere twenty-four months ago, pre-baby versions of my husband and I enjoyed a very fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants kind of lifestyle. Plan a trip to Florida to watch our BFF run the Disney Marathon one month in advance? Been there. Take our dogs for a three-hour hike and swim in the creek all afternoon? Done that. Enjoy an impromptu century ride/bar tour on a local rail trail. Lived to tell the story. During the week, our evenings were filled with running, bike riding, hiking, swimming - whatever. Our mutual love of all things “active” has always been a fundamental part of who we are as a couple. Before baby, the term “date night” was not a part of our vocabulary. We never actually planned to spend time together – we just, did.
Having a baby has changed our lives in many wonderful ways. We have learned the true meaning of the word, “team.” Now that Nora is here, we realize the importance of mommy-and-daddy-time. It’s not always easy to work date night into our schedule, especially since we don’t have family in the area to help us out at all, but we do make an effort – more and more so as baby girl gets older.
Just this past weekend, my mom (Gigi) visited, which is always fun. On Friday night we had dinner together, and then Gigi offered to take the reins after tubby time so that we could out hang out, just the two of us. By 7:30pm we were on our bikes, riding around town like a couple of kids, enjoying the crisp cool hint of fall in the beautiful twilight hours. We weaved through the streets, passed the frat houses, between the dorms, and up to the soccer field where the Penn State women’s soccer team was playing. We didn’t bother to go into the stadium, just parked our bikes on the bank and sat in the grass together. We watched for a while then hopped back on our trusty steeds, rode to the opposite end of campus to visit the newly renovated Nittany Lion shrine, then back down through town.
We stopped on the way home to our house to check out a State College High School football game. Watching the throngs of high school kids maneuver the awkward waters of adolescence under the Friday night lights was fun – but in a different way. Now, when we look at these kids socializing and making memories they’ll one day share with their significant other – we see Nora. One day our baby girl will be at a high school football game in her favorite hoodie sweatshirt, chewing bubble gum, eating kettle corn with her friends, and crushing on that dreamy guy from English class. Upon this realization, we rattled off several selfish reasons why homeschool education would be a nice option – and we then pinky swore that the high school version of Nora would never leave our house in a crop top or shorts cut so high that the pockets hang out the bottom. (You hear that Nora? Never…)
Date night wrapped up with a quick drive up to Beaver Stadium in our jammies at 11:20 pm. Approximately 80 seconds after the 11:27 launch of NASA’s LADEE spacecraft, we were able to see the rocket plain as day in the night sky. We shared a crazy and humbling “tiny-ant-in-a-giant-ant-farm” ah-ha moment as we watched the rocket move across the sky on it’s way from Virginia to the moon, and then we decided to call it a night.
Even though our lives are very different these days, our Friday night grown-up adventure was a good reminder to us that we need to make time for one another – time to re-energize and be Katy and Andy, not just mommy and daddy. One of our biggest excuses in forgoing date night is that we don’t want to spend any money. Well, lucky for us, my husband and I are both incredibly cheap dates, and excellent bike riders. We didn’t spend one penny on Friday night and it was perfect. Note to self… a FREE date night can be done – and will be repeated in the future.
Katy Stager, proud mom and wife, is a fan of all things "active." She's a marathon running, swimming, cycling, hiking, art loving, community volunteering, book reading, Instagraming, Animal Kingdom shopping kind of mom who does it all with her little girl in tow. A Bloomsburg University grad, she now studies homemaking, successful childrearing, and thriftiness through the school of life's successful parenting program.