by Mike Todd
“I want to come with you!” our son Evan said, his face stretched into a pout so long that a horse wandering through our living room at that moment would have paused and said, “Now THAT’S a long face.”
“Mommy and daddy have a date tonight,” grandma said, hugging Evan with one arm and shooing us out the door with the other.
We hustled down the stairs, professing our love for our son while trying not to prolong a goodbye that had already taken a turn for the traumatic.
“Evan’s not used to getting ditched. That’s not really a bad thing,” my wife Kara said, trying to make the best of it. It was a rocky start to our first evening out together since, well, since either of us could remember.
We were ready for a break. Living with a three-year-old and a colicky three-month-old offers many joys, but it can be difficult to appreciate those joys when you’re blotting the vomit off your iPad. If there’s one lesson parenthood has taught me, it’s that the quality of one’s life is inversely proportional to the number of times in one’s household that the word “projectile” is used as an adjective.
“I forgot how much it hurts to wear heels,” Kara said as we strolled across the restaurant parking lot. Somewhere, back in our bedroom, her yoga pants were crumpled on the floor, bereft, wondering what they did to deserve being forsaken for the first time in three months.
When the waitress came to take our drink order, we ordered our food, too, rather than waiting for her to come back in a minute.
“Dude, why did we just do that?” I asked.
“Do what?” Kara said.
“We just hurried. We have no reason to hurry,” I said.
It’s tough to get out of the mindset that someone at your table might start screaming at any moment, and you’ll have to flee through a fire door. When the food came out after we’d only been there for 15 minutes, I had to fight the urge to hand the waitress my credit card to speed things along.
“Whoa, this Margarita is strong. I’m definitely going to have to pump and dump when we get back,” Kara said.
If you’re not familiar with the practice of pumping and dumping, it’s when lactating women allow themselves to have some drinks, then use a breast pump later to extract the 70-proof milk, which gets dumped down the drain so that they don’t find out if their baby is a mean drunk. This seems like an awful lot of work, but at least it allows new mothers to cut loose just a little bit, since they are the demographic group most in need of a drink.
If you try to explain pumping and dumping to anyone in my parents’ generation, they give you a look like you’re trying to hook a breast pump up to their cat. Back then, a little second-hand cabernet made a baby more refined.
By the time dessert rolled around, Kara and I had remembered how to enjoy a meal without trying to shovel it down as fast as possible, a lesson we promptly ignored as our spoons dueled over the remaining chunk of chocolate tort.
We arrived home to find the house much more peaceful than when we’d left.
“We promised Evan you’d tell him good night when you got home,” grandpa said.
Evan shot up like a prairie dog when we pushed his door open. We’d been trying all night not to think about his huge pout, but he didn’t appear to be holding a grudge.
“Love you. Good night,” he said, giving us each a hug.
It’s good to get out. And it’s even better when it’s good to come back.