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Date Night #1

Dating today is foreign to me. Jen knows that I would never make it as a single father and that I am glad we are still thriving as a married couple. I just don’t understand the dating world. I can’t even speak the language, let alone understand the fashion… Date Night is a pivotal piece of maintaining sanity as a parent. It is your proverbial escape that makes you remember how everything started.

Jen and I have been together for 20+ years. There are few things we have not done together. We have traveled internationally, locally, and even spent time in confined spaces. We have learned all kinds of incriminating things about each other that I cannot share for fear of her selling out my secrets. This is the essential part of building a healthy relationship – Trust.

Along with trust, there is a healthy requirement to always make an effort to be there for each other. One of the things I am constantly doing is trying to find ways to spend time with her. When we finally get the opportunity for date night, provided we don’t immediately fall to sleep, we like to do things that involve “adulting”. This usually means spending time with other adults doing things children are not able to do.

Recently, we were given an invite to join the Trefethen family vineyard, from Napa, to the del mar horse races. I have what is considered to be an overactive sense of smell and taste. Not the most desirable trait in medicine due to the nature of working in locker rooms and dealing with infected wounds, but none the less it is a great thing to have when it comes to wine.

Fresh off the X games this year, we were able to spend a couple nights at a hotel in Del Mar with some close friends and attend the Trefethen Vineyard event at the races. Jen looked amazing, as always, and I had to go outside my comfort zone and find a collared shirt that fit me.

The Outfit

The first hurdle was finding something to wear for the event. Watching Jen pick out clothing is like watching paint dry; No matter what she does, she looks amazing, when she asks how she looks, I give the same response every time – “looks great” and like paint drying, nothing changes. Me on the other hand… I am a bit of a train wreck.

Women have it easy. They have so many options for fashionable attire it can make your head spin. Men have roughly three options. A suit, a polo shirt, and a tuxedo. Outside of those three options and you risk going completely rogue. I like to think I have a decent sense of fashion, but that is only because my “uniform” of a t-shirt and Jeans has been in style for several decades. Unfortunately, this event was putting me outside my comfort zone.

Jen and I decided to do some actual shopping. Not the type of shopping you do online, but where you actually drive to a physical location and try things on. I absolutely hate trying things on. It is a terrible experience. You have to first find something agreeable to wear, then find your size, and then squeeze my rockin dad-bod into it without busting any seems. The biggest problem is hiding my muffin top while being judged by the store employees and Jen. Here I am with a sport coat and an actual “pocket square”!!

Once the ritual of clothing myself in the proper attire is complete, we move on to the shoes. Everyone knows I have been a slip-on vans evangelist since childhood. I must own a pair of slip-ons in every color made. Unfortunately, none of them “matched” well enough for Jen to give me her blessing to wear them to the event. I was certain she would make me wear actual “adult” shoes. Luckily we were able to find some “wine” colored lace up vans to fit the bill so we compromised on foot wear that made both of us feel comfortable.

The Venue

Jen and I finally made it to the hotel and were able to put our “outfits” on. I call them outfits, because they definitely don’t feel like regular clothing. Comfort is a big deal to me. I work in medicine and constantly deal with uncomfortable conversations, the least I can do for my sanity is feel comfortable in my clothing. Once dressed, we headed to the track.

Our tickets got us in to the VIP area with the vineyard in a private suite. Again, nothing I do in life involves a “private suite” so this was in itself an adventure to find the place. We walked in the door and were immediately greeted by staff. The Trefethen staff and the family that were present immediately made us feel like part of their family. It was a huge relief to know that despite the pretentious expectations I had of the event were instantly crushed by the humble nature of the actual family behind the wine.

I absolutely loved the experience at the venue and the people running the show. Jen and I cannot wait to take our Sprinter up the coast for an extended “date weekend” to napa and visit their vineyard in person. They were very gracious hosts and made us feel at home the entire time.

The Booze

During the course of the date night event, Jen and I sampled some of the best wine we have had in a long time. This is a big statement because our neighbors are huge wine fanatics and travel to europe regularly. There is a saying about how the best boat is the one your friend owns; well… in terms of wine, Jen and I sample wine from all over the world with our neighbors. They routinely bring home french and spanish wines to compare to wines in paso robles and napa. The library at Trefethen can easily compete for the top spot in a blind tasting.

We ended up ordering several bottles of various years and varietals while we were there. I normally don’t like to plug products but Jen and I had such an amazing experience on this particular date night that I just had to write the story about it.

The Take Home Message

In terms of parenting lessons, it is important to make time for each other. It is also important to venture outside your comfort zone. One of the hallmarks of relationships in the early stages is that each person makes the other feel passionate about something. I see patients in clinic struggle with life becoming routine and mundane. I like to encourage them to have an open dialogue about each others wants and needs.

Open communication is key to having a successful relationship. When both parties feel like their needs are being addressed, it makes the parenting side more unified. You feel like both of you can tackle the difficulties of parenting because there is mutual understanding on what needs to happen behind the scenes.

Everything in life has two sides. There is the outward projection and filtered social media campaigns that we all love to watch; then there are the real moments where we interact together behind closed doors. The closer those two worlds are, the more rewarding the relationship is.

Jen and I make it a point to talk every night before bed. When we feel like one of us is getting beaten down by life, we try to plan a “date night” so we can get that time together to recharge. It reminds us of “why” we do what we do in the first place. It also gives us a chance to really connect through various means and strengthen our relationship for the future. Jen and I like to experience new things. We constantly look for opportunities to experience life together, and for opportunities to share with other parents.

We hope you find time to enjoy each other as much as you enjoy your tiny humans. Check back frequently for more Date Night options. Jen and I will do our best to give you the inside info on locations, activities, and expectations for various dates.

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