I love date nights. One on one time to spend with someone, just talking, listening, sharing. Date nights for me are usually defined as a sitter and a uninterrupted dinner with the hubs. Those are refreshing and essential to keep us connected as a couple. To keep our relationship strong for each other and as parents.
This weekend, though, I went on a different kind of date night, with a different man. This one was with the one who made me a mom.
It was 7:30 on Saturday night when I realized I needed to grab something for lunch guest the next day. Usually, I would take the chance to run out alone and sit in a quiet car for the 5 minute ride. But something in me felt like I should ask Cooper to go with me, so I did. Bedtime is 7:30 at our house, so he looked totally shocked and excited when I asked him to get his shoes on.
We ran, hand in hand, to the car and he told me he couldn't believe how dark it was outside. As we drove, he pointed at other cars and said "whoa, there's a lot of people out after bedtime!"
When we got to Target, he pointed to 2 girls walking out of the store with their mom. He said "they're having a special treat date, too!" We got hot chocolate at Starbucks. He got to lead the way through the store, stopping to look at everything. We went to the Christmas department and grabbed some ornaments that I probably wouldn't have bought on my own. He played with toys, tried on hats and looked at books, all while I stood watching. He may as well have been in Disney World. I didn't tell him to hurry or to stop playing with the stuff. I just let him be.
I told him the couple things on the list and I let him find them. He took time to read the signs to find out what was in each aisle He was so proud when he found the beans we needed, all on his own.
He didn't do anything he wasn't supposed to do. Touch anything he shouldn't. I never had to give him any direction. When I felt like we should probably get going, I asked if he was ready. His "yep!" was followed by grabbing my hand as we walked to the register.
When we got to the car, he leaned through to the front seat and said "we have to get a picture! I'll come up with you!" Instead of cringing that I was out in workout shorts, the sweatshirt I had on 2 days earlier and hardly a trace of makeup, we took a picture. In the dark car. And that picture will remind us both of that fun memory forever.
It was the most amazing, eye opening date night. As I watched Cooper have the freedom to just "do" without the pressure of time limits and rules, I was reminded of what a great kid he is. One who used perfect manners while ordering his hot chocolate. One who didn't beg me to buy things, just content to look for a few minutes. One who was grateful for a simple trip to the store, like it was a fantastic gift.
I am determined to do this more often with both of my boys. To allow them space to just be themselves. To have special time that they are given one on one attention. It doesn't have to be fancy, obviously. It was 2 hot chocolates and some Christmas ornaments for us this weekend. Maybe it will be a run in the park next. Or a drive to look at Christmas lights soon. Whatever it is, it's special for us both and I can't wait until the next time.