Last night I went on a date with my husband. A date. An out-out, night in a hotel, restaurant and drinks, date. High heels, makeup, hold you up underwear, bit of boob, date. Aftershave and perfume, shower beforehand, hair blowdried and teeth sparkly DATE. When I was a wild young thing hearing married people say ‘date’ would make me cringe. Bunch of saddos! Who dates their husband? Well, me, and my wild young thing can go boil her head in her vat of cringe.
What the wild young me had no idea about, is that the reason married people talk about going on dates is because it happens so damn rarely that it becomes an ‘event’. It’s actually the highlight of your marriage that week/month/year amongst washing dirty kecks, smelling wafts of each other’s poo stench and midnight farts. Of silent empty-toilet-roll-battles and picking pubes off the wall around the shower (HOW?). It’s the light at the end of a tunnel of ridiculous bickering over who puts the empty coffee pods in the recycling, or who packs the kids lunch-boxes, or why no one is seemingly able in this house to pick up a bloody wet towel from the bathroom floor. It’s a chance to reconnect and find each other again against a backdrop of family madness and it’s not ‘sad’ to need it and if you are so persuaded, call it ‘date night’. What else are you gonna call it?
So, kids dispatched to my mother’s, we booked into the lovely hotel in London, and our room had views over the Thames, the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament. We had a bottle of wine waiting for us, and a reservation in their swanky fusion restaurant. We arrive and check in as Mr and Mrs Dyson and my heart flutters as we do because there’s something thrilling about hearing your married names when you are on a date night. Everything was moodily lit, and luxe, and sexy.
When you are a young wild thing finding an outfit for a date night means nipping to Topshop in your work lunch break for a new dress, including accessories, shoes and maybe, if you fancy your luck being in, a whole new lace underwear set. Dating when you are married and have kids means flinging everything around your bedroom in a fit of panicked desperation as you search for a. something that fits, b. Spanx to hide the mum-gunt, and c. at least one piece of clothing that doesn’t carry the stain of your child’s bodily fluids. You dig out the heels that you can no longer walk in without feeling like your vagina is going to prolapse but you reason that you are going from Uber to bar to Uber to Hotel so it might just be ok, and you have a trusty arm on which to fall should you need it. You pack at least four outfits and change a minimum of three times when in the hotel because the skirt waist band feels too constrictive for a meal, the trousers too tight for a bar stool and the top screams mutton dressed as lamb in the broad daylight. (You wear that anyway, what the hell.)
So after finally deciding on an outfit, I run a bath and start to shave my legs and that’s when they hit me square in the chest – date night nerves. NO ONE TALKS ABOUT THIS. No one admits that you can get as nervous on a date with your husband as you can with a virtual stranger you met on Tinder three weeks ago. It’s part desperation for a decent night out without any tit-for-tat nagging between you, a need to not fuck up the one small sliver of time you can actually hold a conversation without a demanding small version of yourself biting on your ankles, and the realisation that after about a eleventy billion sexless weeks you are likely to end up Doing The Deed.
With this whirling around in my head, I look down into the bathwater and realise that the lady-garden, shall we say, has not been tended for some time. “Do you want a glass of wine in there, darling?” my love shouts through the door. Shit. Normally I’d let him barge in whilst I am legs akimbo sorting out the bush for swimming or something but if there is a sex-pectation on the cards, I can’t show him the technical getting-readiness, can I? Wine will have to wait. Luckily, I have with me a bic razor (ouch), nail scissors, and a sample size of Femfresh that I nicked when I volunteered for the NCT three years ago and I set to work, hacking down the rainforest that has sprouted down there, micro-climate included, and emerge having half sculpted a surprise love heart on my mons pubis. (Don’t we all?)
Of course, when I finally materialise from the bathroom Mr Dyson was looking as hot as he did on our wedding day and again, the flutter of nerves rise to my throat and sprout into beads of sweat on my forehead. “I’ll just get dressed quickly and then I’m ready to go” I shout, as I run with my clothes back into the bathroom and roll the c-section induced mum-gunt into a pair of tit-high Spanx, dabbing a shaving cut on my shin in the process. I look in the mirror and think you know what, THIS IS IT. You can do this girrrrl. Pump yourself up! He’s your husband! Right? Oh-my-gods. What if he doesn’t fancy me anymore? What if I’m too mum now to be sexy and what if my chat is boring? What if I have lost my mojo in the bedroom, and What If – I whisper to myself – I fanny fart?
After a firm talking to myself in the mirror, I finally get my shit together, and Mr Dyson hands me my bag and we awkwardly head out of the room, hand in hand, slightly butting each other against the door frame as we go and head to the restaurant. There’s lots of hot young things sitting on lounge chairs but we are seated at a window table, and I try my best sexy look which actually, I think misfires because Mr Dyson looks over his shoulder instead of come-hithering back at me. We order cocktails and snigger together like twelve year olds over some of the names. It feels good, it feels conspiratorial and I feel the nerves calm a bit. He still ‘gets’ me, and I can still make him laugh. There was a time when we were first dating when he seriously asked me if I had considered stand up comedy and I nearly laughed off my chair. Fresh love, eh? Unless standup has recently changed to mean ‘a million ways to bicker with your husband’ I don’t think he’d be seriously recommending I try it any longer.
We start to get a bit pissed together, and touchy feely and he puts his arm around me and pulls me in for a kiss. A good kiss, not a married couple whatarethekidsdoingnow kiss. A date kiss. He touches my knee when we chat and looks at me in the eyes. We hold hands when we walk to the table and it makes me feel like it did the first time he did that, like I’m walking on air. He’s still got it, this Mr Dyson. Fit as he was nine years ago.
We order the tasting menu but because it’s small plates the wine outweighs the food at first and I start to feel that familiar fuzzy and ‘calm exhaustion’ hit my bones – aka: pissed. I put my glasses on because weirdly they help me feel less drunk when I’m drunk and I reckon I’ve got another couple of glasses in me to go before I want to hit the deck, and by my watch (I don’t have a watch) that should see me through the rest of the food. Mr Dyson looks a bit sparkly through my glasses and I fall in love with him a bit more. We reminisce about when we lived in London because a Number 77 bus to Tooting goes past, and that’s where we first lived together. We chat about the kids, and I get a bit emosh thinking about whether we should have any more and make him agree to never say never, which he does but I suspect it’s so I don’t drunk-cry in the restaurant. For the record, I wasn’t going to but it helped that he thought I might because he agreed. The waiter brings sizzling beef on hot rocks and we ooh and ahh over it like a pair of pensioners at the Toby Carvery. Finally, the dessert arrives, and the coffee, and the meal comes to an end.
“Shall we go to the room?”, Mr Dyson asks, looking lovingly into my eyes. Oh my gods this is it, this is the moment, we are going to do the vagercise, make the love, do the bedroom fandango! We are going to have sex and I briefly consider in the lift whether it’s possible that it will be like when I lost my virginity and whether it is possible for your vag to reheal when it’s been so bloody long since doing the deed and that makes my heart panic a bit so I block out the thought and Mr Dyson kisses me and we tumble out of the lift in a giggle.
We open the door to the room, kick off our shoes and lie down. We look at each other lovingly, or sleepily? I’m not sure, the wine has definitely gone to my head, but we kiss and my body sinks into the king size bed and it feels wonderful. And then, Mr Dyson whispers the sweetest, most amazing thing of the whole night into my ear and I know that we are the most perfect match, and he is still that man who I desperately wanted to marry all those years ago.
“Shall we – shall we do ‘it’ tomorrow? Let’s go to sleep, eh. I’m knackered and a bit pissed”, he says, as he wraps his arms around me in a huge, loving embrace.
(And we did.)
About Kate Dyson
Founder of The Motherload®. Wife, mum to two girls, two cats and shit loads of washing in baskets that sit around the house waiting to be ironed. It never happens.Hater of exercise, denier of weight gain, lover of wine. Feminist.