A date by any other name…

I was recently shopping for massage oil for my baby. Rather than read the labels I was selectively sniffing each sampler in my quest for the right smell. Is it surprising that the right baby smell happened to emanate from the “sensual” massage oil? It was almost funny – no, it was downright funny – when the cashier gave me an innuendo-charged look: do I really look like I need help in that department? Do you sell skunk-based massage oil and bath products? Because I’d much rather keep my babies more than 9 months apart. Really.

In the six weeks since my last post, my littlest girl turned 2 months, got really sick with a respiratory virus and is now turning into an adorably pink and chubby heartbreaker. In the six weeks since my last post my biggest girl turned 13 and made me a teenager’s mom overnight. I will write more on that later but for now, I want to tell you how my life has changed since my daughter became old enough to look after her siblings: my husband and I get to go on dates. But dates aren’t what they used to be when we had no children. Here is a snapshot of honest-to-goodness dates my husband and I had in the last three months:

1. The “Grocery”: Put the children to bed and head out grocery shopping. We get to argue about nutritional labels and how much sugar is too much sugar and why I never buy whole wheat rotinis because they remain chewy even overcooked. That’s when my husband realizes that I buy the fancy tomato paste and asks if this is how I squander his hard-earned money and I pretend to start crying and say “aren’t we worth $1.09 to you?” and the single guys with their cart full of frozen pizza and TV dinners think “just when you thought it was safe to go out…”

2. The “24”: Put the children to bed early, get yourself a treat – my husband likes expensive scotch, I like expensive ice cream – and head downstairs to watch our weekly dose of Jack Bauer. We don’t technically need a babysitter for that one.

3. The “Do you come here often?”: A variation of the movie date but we each see a different movie and meet for coffee after. Isn’t that awful? But since we go out to the movies once a year, we might as well see a movie we really want to see. And it’s not like we speak during the movie, right?

4. And my favorite, the “Who are these kids and why are they calling me Mom?” We figured that one out by accident when there was no table for eight at our favorite restaurant. They set us up on two tables for 4 at opposite ends of the dining room. The four oldest children – three girls and one boy aged 13, 11, 9 and 7 — got their own table, ordered their own meals and sent the bill to our table. Not having to deal with their minor table misdemeanors was so relaxing and we actually got to have uninterrupted adult conversation.

When it comes to keeping your sanity with six children, every little bit helps.

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Andrea adds: Now I understand why married folks have improved health outcomes. You bicker in the grocery store over tomato paste, but you are, after all, in the grocery store, buying tomato paste. I tried doing groceries and being healthy for a good two months in winter just now. It is very time consuming and inevitably left me with healthy leftovers, now stockpiled in my small freezer, which my Polish Wartime Mentality won’t let me throw out. So I have changed my tune, oh yes. Clearly, it is the right of every single person to have cereal for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And then it is my right to demand socialized medicine treat me for scurvy.

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Véronique adds: I dream of eating cereal three meals a day. And according to cereal makers, they are chockfull of vitamins and nutrients!

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