Last Saturday I went out to dinner with an old friend. We went to Lalla Rookh, where we sat down for an amazing three-course Italian meal starting with raw kingfish, followed by creamy beetroot risotto and finishing off with an amazing chocolate mascarpone dessert. We also had good wine and even better conversations. After that we went for a nice stroll in the city – it was a warm night with a light breeze and there were lots of people about.
And for that few hours, it was as if we didn’t have kids. Imagine that. And that we were just two adults, having a night out.
It has been a while since I did this. This, to be able to go out and just enjoy the night. Almost four years to be exact.
These kids, they change your life. These little creatures who come out completely helpless and dependent on you for all their physical and emotional needs; for survival. And overnight, all things simple in your life, like going out to dinner, are no longer simple.
Why? Because you stop living only for yourself from the moment you realise you are pregnant. For your baby’s well-being you would give up half the things on the menu (the good half) when you go out, including the fun drinks which continues to stay off the diet for the period you breastfeed. If you breastfeed exclusively (like me as my children refused to take the bottle), this means that you have a baby who latches on to you every three hours and increasingly more closer to his/her bedtime, which makes it extremely inconvenient for you to be out in public. Then even as they get older and feed less, there is still the issue of night waking, to the point that you are uncomfortable of leaving them with a sitter in fear that they will not be able to comfort your baby back to sleep should they wake.
So after a while you just give up and stop going out at night altogether. You ask family if you can have dinners at their place instead, and you try to catch up with your friends either over mommy dates at the park or you sneak in an hour over your lunch break. Other nights when cooking gets tiring you become frequent customers of Menulog and Ubereats. At times you yearn for your old life back, and that spontaneity which allows you to decide, 5 minutes before 6pm, where you would like to dine that night.
Then one day, out of nowhere, you realise that hey, I can actually do this now. The kids are a little older and the husband is experienced enough to be left to his own devices. So you call your friend to arrange a date, very glad that you are finally getting some of your independence back.
Then for a brief moment, only very fleetingly, your mind went back to that time when your newborn woke you up at 3am and then fell asleep while you nursed her close to your chest; when you both stayed so still as if you might interrupt the stillness of the night if you moved; when it felt like you were her entire world and she was yours. And you felt a little sad that perhaps it would never be the same again.
Side note: Lalla Rookh is a trendy, bustling Italian restaurant in the heart of the city. It is a popular spot with the city dwellers, and was recently frequented by Rob Broadfield who wrote a neat article about it in the West Australian.