Last weekend, my husband and I had a date in Dublin.
My friend calls a few days away from parenting, where you get babysitters and take off without the kiddies, ‘day release’. I call it Guilty Fun. You want to do it, feel you shouldn’t and miss them like crazy. ‘Them’ being the babas you left behind…sob
I can see why you might liken days away from the minutiae of parenting to parole. Parenting can feel like being in a type of prison at times, albeit a pretty one. Fondness for my Prison was a post I wrote in the early days of the two under two stage when life was hairy. This has passed and I definitely don’t feel it is as hard as it once was. Things do get easier (everyone said it would and this took time to prove). So getting a day out in Dublin with Mr Paper is a treat. A treat that comes with a price tag, financial and mental, but an important outing for the relationship making it worthwhile.
I won’t lie. On Sunday I was shattered. We went Saturday morning, left the girls with their cousin and auntie and had our day out. They live near Dublin so we brought overnight luggage, travel cot and lots of snacks as if Leixlip doesn’t have fruit, yoghurt and Liga. We went back to their house Saturday evening and all spent Sunday together. Amidst the piles and piles of wipes, laundry and toys that a night away with kids amasses, we drove home Sunday evening. I unpacked. Laundered. Cooked. Slept. Tempers were flaring. Tantrums spread their tentacles and we were in a dangerous state of overtiredness. Sunday ended, Monday began at seven am and by eleven am I wanted a big old nap.
So why do we do it? Why do we pack and prepare so much for a teeny bit of time together?
Here are the reasons.
- Naughtiness. I am not talking the baby making naughtiness here. I am talking the dessert at eleven am sort.
In our case, Panna Cotta and Cappuccinos in a pretty Italian cafe. Served in jam jars. My favourite! (Like to Love sent that joyful, useless yet quaint piece of information to the world). Pretty delicious.
- Lovely Lunch Date. So a date with the husband is important. We often go out to eat with our girls but these family outings aren’t very date-like as entertaining as they can be…! So time out, nice clean, pretty outfit, responsible for only our own toilet trips and clean faces, we looked across the table at each other and exchanged stories and photos about our Gigi and Betsy and wondered how they were. Whilst waiting for our food, we rang Mr Paper’s sister (babysitter) checked in on them, sipped (and in my case revelled) in the bubbly indulgence of a Prosecco based summer tipple at one in the day. Mr Paper had his favourite Soho pizza and I had an antipasti board for one. Tasting Italy, we drank in fond memories of past holidays. Sigh! So far so good.
- A Trip to the Theatre. Drama is part of my Masters and I love, love a play. This was my Christmas present to Mr Paper (another fan of theatre) and we went to see the farcical comedy The Play That Goes Wrong at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre. (Warning: The Lovely Life will be momentarily interrupted by a brief unlovely rant about naming beautiful areas for the arts after soulless corporations)
Despite the fact that I think a theatre shouldn’t be named after a bill (grr), when The Rose or The globe for example have lovely theatrical connections, I enjoy this particular playhouse. (Another possible name…just saying). The Stage Door. The Break a Leg. The Actress and the Bishop. The Back Stage’s Front Stage. Just a few more offerings. I mean if they call their next building The Universal Social Charge, they can just feck off. So rant over. The actual play was great fun! We sat in the second row, all the more able to enjoy the irresistible physical comedy. Audience inclusion, stunts, quick dialogue and belly laugh inducing witticisms made our day complete. I may review it for another day…
- Sneaky, Cheeky Drinkies. Now, be under illusion. The husband and I are no good at the drinking these days. Friday night red wine is a thing of the past and we would choose Poldark and the couch over beer in the local any day. So drinkies are not our first port of call. There is a certain part of us deep inside that feels obliged to imbibe when the occasion occurs. You just have to be cautious. The trick is one here and there throughout the day. Four tops. Water, water, water. Go tasty. We went for overpriced, delicious and extravagant cocktails at The Westbury. Posh nibbly bits supplied. There was a wine in the theatre. A delicious champagne cocktail with lunch at Milanos. That ended the alcohol. Just enough and yummy. Coffee required, we could afford to treat ourselves further.
4. Coffee and Cake. OK, OK, I know you think we have done this already. That was hours ago in the real world people! So when the performance ended in a blitz of fallen props and hanging stagelights, after a walk from the theatre to Temple Bar, we trotted across to Grafton Street in search of something sweet and delectable. Here we found the sexiest doughnuts I have ever encountered in Boston Donuts. I have been to actual Boston yet these capped any I had there. I am dreaming of them since…marshmallow centered, chocolate-glazed magically fluffy pastry. Wowsers.
I opted for a S’more. Mr Paper went old fashioned, original Boston Creme. Chocolately lipped, custard dripping down our chins, we beamed at each other. The sign of true love.
5. Splurging in Shops on Grafton Street. Having eaten, sipped, nibbled and laughed, we now felt the need for retail therapy before heading back to Base camp. A little peek in Avoca, planning future spending! You know yourself, when I have the money, I will buy the world…
Leaving Mr Paper in the gentleman’s section in BT, I bought myself a little bit of lippy. Mr Paper reminded me that the Disney store was now in Grafton Street, and I bounded up the cobbled walkway to the world of joy (and temptation) ahead. After casually overspending on our little ladies, we went on home. Financial regret may occur on another day. Exhaustion Sunday or Dead to the World Monday maybe. In the interim, we walked hand in hand and remembered how we are as a couple. Coffee, a show, cake, cocktails- these are all the props. The whole point of this day away is to touch base with your other half. Add Prosecco and a Disney store if you must!
So now you know. This is why we do it. The only way to really appreciate your home and family is the without them for a bit. This is very true. Home with the feet up, husband beside you and your little ones safe in bed. Until the urge to Have a Day Out returns once again, we experience another type of Lovely Life. We may not get to hold hands, have small talk to be together alone but look at what we do have- a busy life with the two most precious children.