Dear Julia Pelly,
Hey there! I know you don’t think it’s possible that I’m just as busy as you are, but please allow me to introduce myself, my name is Brittany. I am a full-time working, wife and dog Mom who happens to have a blog on the side. Most days, I’m so exhausted after work that I barely have time to write but I’m committed and so even if I post late, I always post. After one such exhausting day, while surfing Facebook mindlessly I stumbled upon your article When You Don’t Have Kids, Every Night is Date Night. While I am not a parent myself, I decided the title was catch worthy enough to give it a shot. The beginning of the article made me chuckle as you addressed your audience as your “childless friends”.
Just a strong FYI while my husband and I are childfree by choice, we have two nieces and a nephew that we absolutely adore and would do anything for. Parenthood and opting out of it is a polarizing topic for most people. I have a wide variety of friends who are single, married, engaged, parents and non-parents. This diversity allows me to have an open mind in most situations. God gave us two ears to listen and one mouth to speak right? So therefore I always to listen to all sides of an argument, even if I’m not inclined to agree. I am rather intrigued to understand how others might relate to this. I’ve read articles plenty of articles addressing the childfree from the prospective of a parent, and while most have a condescending undertone I do my very best to understand. I think I succeed in understanding a good 96% percent of the time because let’s face it none of us are perfect and there’s always a margin of error to take into consideration.
My mindset for this article was no different. After reading though, I did feel the need to address this claim that ‘every night is date night for you’ regarding the childless and childfree.
Julia, the thing you might not realize, is that it’s kind of a bold assumption to claim the thing you didn’t realize before you had your son, “is that when you don’t have kids, your whole life is a date night.”
Are you really prepared to back this statement up against every childfree couple (with different job and financial situations) in America? If you are, allow me to let you in on a little secret your childless friends are probably too busy biting their tongues to say to you. This is NOT the case at all…
My husband and I both work full-time, spending five days a week, eight hours a day, at our jobs. My husband’s schedule is 3:30-11:30 with at least three days a week spent from 8:15-1:15 at his second job. My schedule is 9-5 four days a week and 9-1 on Fridays. I see my husband for 15 minutes a night for dinner four days a week. Once a week on Saturdays, we also attend a religious service together. That does not include our involvement within the church community outside of weekly mass. Most of my weeknights, are spent alone writing content for my own blog and caring for my fur baby Draco. This is all, of course, in addition to commuting through traffic, cooking dinner, and doing the necessary cleaning up that comes with it all the while my husband is at work. Sounds like a great date night, huh?
Saturday’s are spent immersed in the church community and Sundays are spent with family (either mine or my husband’s). See, since we don’t have kids, we do not get the luxury of NOT racing around between our families on holidays and weekends.
Most nights (usually early Saturday AM like 12-1 AM) I force myself to stay awake so we could plop down on the couch and watch an episode or two of This Is Us and Total Divas. Most of the time, we’re catching up on the highs and lows of each other’s week during commercial breaks. Do you understand why I’m hesitant to call these “date nights”?
You claim all that’s required to call something a date is that you’re spending one-on-one time with the one you love.
I agree with statement, to an extent. A date doesn’t need to be elaborate in order to be considered a date. But again, consider sitting down with your husband after a long week of work and busy weekend days to mindlessly watch reality tv. It’s something small that we don’t have a luxury to do together like most couples do during the week. Let me beat the dead horse as I reiterate: I am alone for five out of seven days a week. The time I am granted with my husband’s presence does not constitute as a date of any kind. Even on nights during the week where I am lucky to have my husband home with me watching a television program, I can’t call something a date that we’d both probably be doing separately if not for the convenience that we both happened to be home that night. Once again that’s not a date!
You claim that going out for pizza because you’re too tired to cook and grabbing frozen yogurt on the way home from dinner with friends is a date night and well I tend to disagree. While I will admit one of the perks of being childfree is freedom, childfree couples, like my husband and I, actually are not so free that our entire lives are one giant date night. That’s a joke and not even even a funny one.
While I can’t honestly speak for every childfree person and couple out there, MOST of us wake up early for work, have pets we wouldn’t dream of leaving alone overnight, and have a host of other commitments that prevent us from driving and vacationing where ever we want just because we don’t have kids. We have student loans from college, and some of us who’d like to complete projects in our homes even work two or more jobs to make enough money to afford things like a renovated kitchen. Yes, we can afford things like eating out, the newest Apple gadgets, and vacations once a year without worrying about a child’s school or sports schedule but that doesn’t mean we don’t save our pennies. That doesn’t mean we don’t have just as many responsibilities to ourselves, our families, friends and religious communities.
Brittany from the Rinky-Dink Life sums this up perfectly when she states: “You no doubt converse with your coworkers on a daily basis, but you wouldn’t consider these conversations on par with a work conference, even though you’re essentially being paid the same amount for both. I look at shoveling pizza into my mouth while laughing at Larry David in the same sense. It’s just not a date.”
I believe in date nights, I believe spending meaningful one-on-one time with your spouse is key in any relationship if you want it to last forever. These dates don’t have to be over the top, they can be simple and executed on a whim. It is my opinion, though, that even spontaneous dates should be intentional, deliberate and meaningful. That said, it should consist of your focus being set on one another. Not with your phones out texting the sitter the whole time making sure your kid ate all their Mac and cheese. Before you were Mom and Dad, you were Husband and Wife and it’s important to remember that even amidst the throes of parenthood.
Can I give you a tip Julia? Maybe, instead of looking at how rested and happy your childless friends are you can look at your relationship and see what it is you and your spouse need to be that happy. Maybe as parents you and your husband need to make date night a weekly priority instead of something that takes weeks, months and days to plan here and there.
Spending time in the same general area doesn’t count as a date. Tom and I go to our tax appointment together. We also go grocery shopping together and schedule our annual eye exam for the same date and time. I think you’d agree that it would be quite a stretch to call it a date.
While you made a very valid point that having kids is hard, how tired it makes you and mostly how you just don’t have the same freedom you did pre-baby, here the kicker to that one: you chose to bring that child into the world not anyone else but you and your spouse and unfortunately it comes with the territory.
You also acknowledge how tiring it is to raise kids and how tired the childfree are of hearing about it. But here’s the thing: we’re not just tired from hearing about it. We’re tired in general. Once again, Brittany from the Rinky Dink Life puts it perfectly when she says: “Everyone everywhere is tired. I have yet to meet a well-rested human being ever, and it really didn’t matter if they married or not, working full-time or not, raising a family or very much not; To be tired is to be human.” I can wholeheartedly get on board with this statement to be tired is to be human. We’re all busy and tired, with or without kids.
To say my life is one large, spontaneous date night is not only wrong but assuming. To say I can’t know what it means to be tired until I’m a Mother is laughable. Maybe you wrote your article out of jealousy for the lives your childfree friends lead or maybe because part of you wishes for a day or two back in the “good ol’ days” which consisted of just you and your husband. To be honest, Julia, if your husband doesn’t work two jobs, including evenings and you have him to talk to each night after you put your kids to bed then you’re actually afforded a luxury I do not have during the week. The luxury of having your husband home with you.
Therefore I close this open letter to you, as I sit here alone on a Friday night eating Low Carb vanilla ice cream, to remind you that regardless of the motivation behind this article, watching television at night with your husband is not a date night. My entire life is NOT a date night, but my free moments (when I have them) are precious to me and I DO go on weekly dates with my husband (usually on Saturday nights we’re not too tired after church), kids don’t fit into the equation that is my life and I’m perfectly alright with that. Call my life whatever you wish from the outside looking in but please don’t call it one large date night.
Love you. Mean it.
Read Julia’s article here: https://www.scarymommy.com/when-you-dont-have-kids-every-night-is-date-night/
Support a Fellow Brittany’s Site Here: http://therinkydinklife.com