It’s safe to say that most new parents have trouble finding spare time to spend a night out on the town, relax, immerse themselves in their hobbies, or even take an uninterrupted breath. My wife and I are all too familiar with failed attempts at public outings with our little one, so we knew exactly how one couple felt Saturday night as we sat next to them enjoying our dinner, grateful for a peaceful night out.
My wife and I are fortunate to live less than a mile from her mom, step-dad, and sister. They jump at the chance to babysit whenever we ask, so when we need a night out, we can usually make it happen.
We realize though that everyone isn’t as lucky and, when you’re a new parent, you may not even want to spend time away from your little one. But that doesn’t mean you won’t benefit from a night out of the house.
On Saturday, my wife and I were enjoying a long overdue dinner at a fairly nice restaurant in the city—our toddler was at home with grandma—when a young couple with a baby no more than two months old sat down at the table next to us. Within 15 minutes, before their food arrived, the mother had gotten up several times to calm the baby and they decided to give up and go home. We heard the father say to the waiter, ”It’s just not working out.”
It didn’t seem to us like they were bothering anyone. It was a noisy restaurant to begin with and the baby was barely noticeable, but I think their anxiety as new parents got the best of them.
We felt bad for them because we know how it feels when you’re a new parent—hypersensitive to how you might be disturbing the people around you. You’re afraid you might be judged for bringing such a young baby into the nice restaurant potentially interrupting other people’s meals, but dammit, sometimes you just need to get out of the house!
I mentioned to my wife how I had wanted to offer a few words of encouragement to the father when I realized that they were struggling, and I wish I had, but in those situations I often feel like I’m offering unwanted advice even though I mean well.
So, the best I can do now is write this post in hopes that other couples will not feel like they are being judged so harshly in that setting. I wanted to say good for you two for trying! It’s hard and you deserve the night out—probably more than others. Just know that most people probably aren’t even noticing you or your baby but if someone does offer a judgmental glance or uppity sigh at the slightest noise from your adorable little miracle, then forget them—they’re obviously a jerk.
It will get easier—then hard again and probably back and forth between easy and hard for a while after that—but it will be okay. Take your baby to the grocery store, the mall, to dinner, and anywhere else you would normally go. It might go great. It might not. Either way, just keep trying.