date night.

On Saturday, Andrew and I went on our first real date night since having Maddie 15+ months ago. We’ve left her a few times before, but they were not for an official “date night.” In December, last year, we left Maddie home with her grandmother, while the rest of Andrew’s family and I went to see Les Miserables in the movie theater. We went out to an Army ball in Raleigh in March, and my mom flew down from New York to spend the night with Madeline. I left her with my neighbor for a few afternoon hours in July, while Andrew and I attended the memorial service for an officer in his squadron. And we recently left her with our new babysitter for an hour and a half on a Saturday morning while we enjoyed…get this…dog training sans baby.

I realize this already make us sound like crazy helicopter parents, but I’ll do you one better. We had our babysitter, a 16 year old who lives on our block, come over for an interview before we allowed her to sit for us. During said interview, I drilled her on her grades, her extracurriculars, her family, her experience with children and her certifications (CPR and the babysitting course on post). And I asked her to describe what she would do in an emergency situation if she couldn’t get a hold of us, in 500 words or more.  It was the SAT of babysitter interviews. She passed.

Which brings us back to Saturday. Our very sweet, responsible babysitter came over at 6:30PM to watch us put Maddie to bed (so that she’d know how we do for the next time). ::insert the whirring of helicopter blades here:: After lights out, I made sure she had her cell phone, showed her how to work the iPad/TV situation, told her to help herself to anything in the fridge or pantry, told her not to open the door for anyone and then we finally left for our night out, just the two of us.

In the car, my mind was racing. “I should have told her that it’s not okay to have boys or friends over! I should have said help yourself to everything BUT the alcohol!” Andy told me not to worry, that all those things were implied. But what if they weren’t? Some people come home to babysitters passed out on the couch after they drank their way through the liquor cabinet, don’t they? The horror stories are out there, and there’s no way I want my daughter to fall victim to the shenanigans of an ill-selected sitter.

I would have never guessed I would feel so wildly protective of my baby, but I do. And I don’t feel badly about it. I’d do everything the same again if I had the chance, but this time I’d remember to tell the babysitter no boys or alcohol…or drugs…or sex….or rock and roll. And she’d ask me if Maddie was really my granddaughter and I’d say, “I’m only 11 years older than you, honey! Make good choices, go to college, fall in love and this could be you!” And then I’d wink and hand her a tenner and tell her to go ahead and order herself a pizza!

The 1897 Poe House at nightWe went downtown to the 1897 Poe House for a Halloween night-tour, complete with local actors portraying the Poe family. We held hands as we meandered through the dimly lit rooms, whispering our admiration of the built-in bookcases and layout of the house. After, we went for a delicious late dinner at Pierro’s, where I ate my weight in garlic knots and was too full to finish my lasagna. We ended our evening at The Wine Cafe, a cool interactive tasting shop, for a night cap. It was the perfect date. So fun to be alone and feel flirty and young and like it was just the two of us again. Worth the entire 15 months of planning it took to make it happen…

When we got home, I kid you not, I watched our babysitter walk home from our house, to make sure she got in okay. When we went upstairs, I checked on our baby and found her peacefully sleeping in her crib. If there had been a rager at the house while we were gone, Maddie had slept right through it, completely unscathed.

Madeline sleeping through her first night with a babysitter
I’m looking forward to our next date night…in three years.


  1. I was the EXACT. SAME. WAY with Sam. To the point where my mom was like, Really… Jenn… please find a babysitter. So of course I never did because NO ONE can take care of my baby the right way like I can! Humph!

    Fast forward a bit…. (Molly enters the scene)… (deployment)… (terrible twos OMGAH)… Anyone who can literally SIT with my children and assure me that no one will topple the AC tower over on the other one? Gets $10/hr. My current sitter is a doll, has a degree in childhood ed, and I’m like, uh-huh, uh-huh, we’ll be back at 10 hours, eat whatever you want. Same for the kids.

  2. I’m still holding out hope I can find a grandmother who will babysit in exchange for cookie. Or give ME cookies in exchange for allowing her the honor and privilege of watching my child. After being The Babysitter for 13 years, I’m about to enter The Mother of the Babysat Child phase. This should be interesting…

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