Ok, people. I’m gonna try to get real here. Call it like it is.

Back in the early days of my relationship with my husband, date night had that intriguing air to it. A new outfit that I spent all week searching for that laid perfectly across some wonder-mega-bombshell Victoria’s Secret bra. Good thing Victoria didn’t tell my husband at that time that the secret was my boobs were half the size they appeared. A spritz of some new perfume that smelled like flowers, vanilla, and spontaneity. J would show up, puffed up chest and some casual whiskers, and have the whole night planned…dinner, drinks, meeting up with friends, outdoor concerts, movies. Life was easy and fun. It’s not that we never had issues, but we were too naive at the time to know that our issues weren’t really issues.

Fast forward 6 years and freeze…(just so you know, this is where things start to get real). 7 month old baby. 3 year old dog. 1 house. 2 jobs. And bills. Lotsa bills. The Victoria’s Secret bra is still around somewhere, but let’s face it, it’s just as worn out as I am. But new bras are not on the budget, so it’s staying. Husband still has his whiskers, but they aren’t so much casual now as tired. I can still get the same pants on, but my ass is hanging a little lower in them. Outdoor concerts only happen if we are in the backyard cleaning up our dog’s poop and the next door neighbors are blasting a shitty American Idol cover a little too loudly. Nobody cares about your edgy version of Janis Joplin’s “Piece of my Heart”, damnit.

Spending quality time together is really hard work and date nights outside of the house don’t usually happen because they require money and a babysitter. Not to mention we both work and like to see our kid during our time off. Sometimes date night will be watching an episode of “Teen Mom” together in an effort to make ourselves feel more competent as parents. Sometimes we play Scrabble over a beer until the game inevitably ends with my tantrums over my husband’s knack for triple word scores. Sometimes I volunteer to watch ESPN or he volunteers to go get me ice cream. Romance with a kid and a job takes effort, creativity, and the ability to adapt. And some weeks go better than others. But struggling to find the balance between everything is absolutely normal! And anyone who says it’s easy is lying.

I asked some of my mom friends about date night these days and they had plenty to say. Jessie said: “date night? What’s that?? It seems like sometimes, it’s just more trouble than it’s worth.” By the way, Jessie sent me that comment from the hospital as she was in labor with her second child. Props for that, girlfriend! Becky agreed with Jessie, sharing what a project it is to make the preparations to go out with her husband since they don’t have any family in town to offer free babysitting occasionally. And Kristin and Bernie had similar points..once you get out of the house with your man, it’s a challenge to not worry about the baby or talk about them the whole time. Sarah and her husband are at that stage with their baby where she screams “bloody murder” whenever they leave the room, so it’s hard to get over the guilt enough to get out the door. Meghan added a wonderful point, though, about how the effort to find romance post-baby is worth it: “it seems to me that a couple of extra hours of babysitting is far less expensive than therapy down the road!”. And Elisa summed up the importance of adapting to the new definition of date night perfectly when she said: “date night=watching a DVD while sharing a bottle of wine or ordering in a delicious meal and eating it over candlelight while we listen to the baby monitor play xylophone renditions of Beatles hits.”

These ladies are keeping it real too. Sometimes post-baby romance seems like another item on the to do list and other times, it comes more naturally, but it’s definitely different than it was before. In my seven months of experience, I think you have to give each other a break here and there (sometimes, despite best intentions, sleep will be the other woman/man in the relationship); try hard; roll with it; and laugh at this wild ride that you’re on TOGETHER!

Before: Date out on the town

After: Date trying to watch TV together around our precious son’s large head.