Date night. Two words which leave me shuddering in disgust. It’s not so much the getting ready – I’m actually quite partial to Mummy’s wardrobe, and there’s always a chance of a dab of powder and a smear of lippy coming my way if I keep her company as she dresses. It’s not the prospect of a babysitter either. I’m a savvy creature, and I can normally convince them that yes, I am allowed to stay up for the whole of X Factor, and yes, I usually get hot chocolate and hobnobs before I go to bed. So there’s a definite upside. But what really bothers me is the thought of what might happen once we’ve waved them off on their date.
My parents actually might kiss. Ugh! My skin crawls just thinking about it, but I can’t say anything, because then Daddy will make a big show of snogging Mummy, just to wind me up. Snogging. Can there be a more dreadful word?
So you can imagine my horror when Mummy was approached by Head and Shoulders to not only write about date night, but to actually go on a date with my Dad for the purposes of research. To be honest I think she was only in it for the promise of a pamper package. I had to stifle a small snigger when the box of bubble bath and champagne she was expecting turned out to be more of an emergency maintenance kit. But she was in no position to claim that the wrinkle cream, anti-dandruff shampoo, and disposable razor couldn’t be put to good use 😉
Next came a “confidence coaching” session with this man, bestselling author of Get the Guy: Use the Secrets of the Male Mind to Find, Attract and Keep Your Ideal Man. I sniggered again; Matthew Hussey is at least 3 trillion years younger than my mother – she was so going to squirm talking about her sex life with him! I hung around the kitchen eavesdropping as she giggled 🙄
I wasn’t the only one laughing; when Mummy told her friends about this phone call, they were incredulous: “You? Confidence coaching? That’s ridiculous – if you were any more confident you’d be detestable!” Or something like that, I was too busy rolling my eyes to pay attention by this stage.
So it was with a cynical air that Mummy sat down to take the call. Ten minutes later though, she was engrossed. Over the course of her chat with Matthew she came to realise the following:
- That although she is confident, she is no longer comfortable with the act of flirting.
- That her and Daddy have developed rituals for coping with parenting that don’t leave room for paying attention to each other.
- That confidence in a relationship doesn’t equal a strong bond between a couple.
- That quality time as a family may strengthen the notion of the four of us, but it diminishes M&D’s sense of each other as a couple.
Matthew made a controversial statement: that parents who put their children’s happiness before their own are damaging their offspring’s potential to develop happy relationships of their own. That “your happiness comes before mine” is a bad message, and that happy parents teach kids that personal happiness is vital throughout life.
It is this suggestion that is rather hampering Mum and Dad’s attempt to pursue an intimate date night. It is true that when all your emotional energy goes into your children, it can be difficult to muster up the extra required to ignite a passion for your partner. But isn’t this the lot of a parent? Doesn’t every parent want their child’s happiness more than their own?
To be continued. M&D have been given £100 to spend on date night. The babysitter is booked. Mummy is wearing the biggest pair of knickers I’ve ever seen under her slinky jumpsuit, and Daddy has donned his ironic interpretation of smart-casual. I’m not sure the tie goes with the onesie though…
* Disclosure: we received a hamper of Head and Shoulders toiletries, a one-to-one coaching session with Matthew Hussey, and £100 to spend on a night out.
Update: this happened while they were out. Keeping the secret for Daddy has been killing me!
Yeah, that dude in the onesie? He’s quite a romantic deep down 😉