I have been bitten by the green ogre of jealousy where it concerns a few of our friends. They have family in town. If you are a parent with young kids, you understand my envy.
At a swim party, my girlfriend brought up a conference she attended recently for her job. It lasted three days, and her mom needed to watch the kids from about 8am to 4pm. But since her mom lives an hour away, she offered to just take the kids for the whole entire time to stay at her place. My friend and her husband had three consecutive date nights. They probably camped out at the local casino with a couple kegs of beer.
Upon hearing this I raised my fist from the pool and shook it around at anyone who even looked like they had the in-town support of relatives and said, "Grrrr! That's why I'm jealous of you guys who have family in town!"
Obviously, we have none. Well, get a babysitter! you're telling me. No, no. My Man and I are very careful about who watches our kids. There is no way in hell we will leave them with someone without knowing that person(s) for a minimum of five years. That's the bare requirement. Seven is more ideal. And, okay, yes we have good friends we have known for the specified amount of time, but it's a fair-trade barter system. We are always there for each other in case of emergency, and that certainly eases the mind. As for a date night, they babysit for us, and then we wait for them to ask us to babysit for them. If they don't ask we have to start dropping subtle hints: You guys should have a date night. When was the last time you went out? Gosh, I don't even remember...so long ago. Did you hear about that new restaurant by you? I bet you guys would like it. Classy place. Of course, it's not kid-friendly...But, hey! We'll watch them for you! What time?
During my Man's company Christmas party last year, our longtime friends watched the kids. Our youngest was only 18 months, and my friend had to walk and sing him to sleep. When she stopped singing he kicked her, she told me, so she sang til he drifted off. It was great knowing our children were with people we trusted, people who would sing bedtime lullabies.
Still, the night wasn't what it could have been. I spent half the party in the restroom because of tummy troubles, and the other half of the time my husband and I waited around for the DJ to play a song we would actually dance to instead of the ridiculous hip-hop that mostly got played. We felt very anxious about the music selection, because we enjoy dancing and we knew time was marching. I also made a disparaging comment over dinner about not ever wanting to live in California to one of my husband's co-workers who grew up there and loved it. My adult manners were out of practice; my husband, the sophisticated guy, had to remind me about the formal place settings as if I was at etiquette class. Mostly, we felt this huge pressure to get the best out of our rare, limited date. Maybe that accounted for my stomach issues. Anyway, we hurried out of the shindig later than we meant to, despairing of our chance to dance to one more swing song and worried that our friends were tired or our kids unsettled.
Everything was fine. The kids were all asleep. But the date would have been better if, like some of my husband's co-workers, we knew that the kids were safely tucked in at Grandma's house, and there was no need to pick them up until the morning. We could have had a few drinks and stayed at the hotel where the party was, stumbling up to our room in the small hours. With friends, even close friends as ours are, you feel that it would be such a huge imposition to ask them to keep your kids overnight and part of the next day, too.
And there's where the ogre finds me and begins to gnaw. I have a fantasy about going to one of these ultra-fancy resorts here in town with my husband during the summer. You can get excellent deals, because no one likes vacationing next door to hell, and that's exactly where this desert valley is from June to October. Anyway, all the locals have their staycations when the hotels offer their cut rate deals to fill the rooms. Staying at one of the most glamorous with my husband for the whole weekend - swimming in the luxury pools together, drinking cocktails, sleeping in to the ungodly and now unheard of hour of 9am, eating meals in nice clothes and with adult decorum - it sounds like an enchanted tale of marriage-enhancing romance, and my lust for it is rapidly growing. But we have no family in town.
"Aren't you jealous of our friends?" I asked my husband passionately a couple of days after our friend's disclosure.
"Why not? Three days! They got three whole days!"
"Because if we had that many date nights, we'd have six kids by now. We do fine without the date nights."
I saw his point and felt slightly better. And, thankfully, our friends agreed to give us a date night in the next weekend. Nevertheless, as Scarlett O'Hara is my witness, next summer I'll be lounging by a ridiculously lux pool, cocktail in hand, flirting with my shirtless husband.