I recently started a tradition, known in our family as "Date Night with Mommy." For any of you from a large family or who have multiple children, you know how hard it is to get quality time with each of your children. In the hope of solving that problem I came up with this idea for a date night with each of my kids. It's always on Sunday evenings. We have a revolving system so that each children gets his or her turn and then we start from the beginning of the line again. It's a lot of fun for them and for me. I always marvel at how different it to spend time with your children one-on-one, than when they are all together.. They are different as individuals and you are different as a mom (usually much calmer, in my case).
My kids get to make requests for what they want to do on their date night. However, requests are only for consideration and not always granted, especially if they require long car rides in traffic tor cost too much money. However, within reason, I try fulfill each child's simple dream, for just a few hours on Sunday night
This weekend it was my oldest son Garin's turn. We started planning it a few days in advance. When I saw that the weather was going to be perfect at the beach, I asked him if he wanted to go to Malibu to take a late afternoon walk on the beach, watch the sunset and have a little dinner. He readily agreed! Secretly, I sometimes try to choose things that will make me happy as well. Sometimes the kids bite and sometimes they don't. Luckily, this time Garin agreed that my idea was brilliant.
As it turned out, we had one of the most perfect afternoons and evenings I can recall. The weather was sublime, with clear blue skies, a light breeze and not a smidge of that dreaded coastal fog. The water was warm and perfect for getting wet, just up to our knees. Being that it is October and it was late in the day there were plenty of free places to park (a rarity at the beach), which of course made me very happy. All moms love free and plentiful parking.
I sat in my comfy beach chair and read the new novel I had just started (The Guest Book by Sarah Blake, which seems like a great read so far). While I read, Garin splashed in the water and played in the sand. I reminded him a few times that we had only planned to read and walk on the beach and not actually go swimming, since I had not packed swimsuits. However being the enthusiastic beachgoer that he is, he disregarded me and was dripping wet up to his waist within minutes of our arrival. I only gave him one short lecture on how cold he would be after the sun set, which for me, was impressive. I am known for my lengthy and mind-numbing lectures, but you're in nirvana who wants to be bothered lecturing anyone on their seemingly poor choices?
We then took a long walk down the beach. We admired a packed conference of seagulls (there had to have been 200 of them) with one lonely stork in attendance. We marveled at their different colors and sizes. We watched as the stork scratched an itch that was bothering him with is very long beak and we giggled. This is not something I would ever have time for or allow myself to do, if I was with all four of my kids at the beach. These are the moments I have come to cherish on my date nights when I am with just one.
We did did some good people watching as we ambled down the beach and just talked about a lot of different things. It was one of those rare experiences, as a mom, where I was not worrying about what had gone wrong that morning (namely the ghastly traffic jam on the 101 on our way to church, making us late) or distracted by what I had to get done later that night (laundry, lunches for school the next day and so much more). I was truly in the moment with him and enjoying every second, so very much.
We stayed and watched the sunset until the very moment that the sun went down below the horizon. We were one of the few admirers left on the beach waiting for that always magical moment. And magical it was.
After the sun set, we packed up our towels, chairs, books and headed over to wash our sandy feet. I remember thinking how nice it was to be washing my feet off, quietly and without incident, with just one child. Everything is so much easier with one child it seems. I reveled in the easiness of such a mundane task.
We drove a short way up the Pacific Coast Highway to a cute and very popular roadside restaurant called Malibu Seafood. It is a no-nonsense, casual spot where you have to wait in a long line to get decent seafood served on paper plates that you then have to carry to your own table. No pampering, but simple food, good prices and a perfect beachside atmosphere, which was just what we wanted. I let Garin choose our dinner because he was so excited to try this new place. Of my four kids, he is my big foodie, which is an absolute joy for me. He decided that we should share a bowl of clam chowder and a plate of fish and chips. Perfect, I thought.
We picked up our food from the window, found a table outside (it was a bit chilly so we brought a cozy beach towel to share and put it over our laps) and enjoyed our dinner together. Every bite delicious, just because of where I was and who I was with.
As we drove home together, back through the dark and windy Malibu Canyon, we both talked about what a perfect date night it had been. He was so happy, content and grateful. I felt exactly the same. We both agreed that it was an evening that neither of us would ever forget.