Sunday, October 18, 2009

Fancy restaurants and run ragged parents

On Friday night I got ready to go to dinner with J and his step-brother. At 6:30 p.m. with wet hair, rushed makeup and nothing to wear, a small storm erupted in my bedroom as I plowed through my wardrobe, pulling out tops and skirts, scowling and throwing everything on the floor, and finally pulling down a box of old clothes from the top shelf, last worn some time in 2006. At some point J came into the room, looked first at the mess on the floor, then at me, and without a word turned and walked back out. He knows this mood.

By 8 p.m. in something not too smart and not too subtle (and all black of course), I was seated in a leather chair in the restaurant with the warm, fragrant atmosphere wafting around me.

It took me a few minutes to adjust. The smart restaurant with its high ceilings and glass sculpture chandeliers threw me. I was out of place. A mother now - more used to spending hours in the kitchen wearing sweat pants and Ts, hands always in water at the sink, seventy times a day stooping to pick up toys and scraps and half-chewed things from the floor.

But once, a long time ago, I ate out a lot. A weekly meal in a nice restaurant was just an extension of my week of business meetings, suits, black taxi rides across London, whizzing around, dashing, running, phone calls, always making plans. Eating at a fine restaurant was nothing out of the ordinary. Just another moment in a lively week. Another inconsequential dip in our DINK* income.

And then, here I was, years later, staring down at the utensils arranged in front of me, trying to remember which fork was for what on the white tablecloth. The waiter handed me the wine menu and I looked blankly from California to Italy and quickly handed the menu to someone else.

The food tasted particularly good - better than it would have tasted five years ago when dining out was no big deal. I savoured a buffalo mozzarella and tomato salad and a roasted Atlantic salmon with a porcini mushroom crust with a different enthusiasm.

And as I took in the ambience I couldn't resist peering around the restaurant (me: nosy nora), observing the mostly middle-aged people enjoying their fifty dollar tenderloins and laughing casually with the seasoned look of regular patrons.

It'll be a while before this type of thing is normal, or even occasional, for me again. For now it's large pots of chili and roast dinners with the kids around a noisy, messy table. And that's good too.

*Double Income No Kids
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9 comments:

Chic Mama said...

Oh poor you, I know that feeling well. Confidence takes a big bashing doesn't it.
I don't think I ever go to a restaurant now and not enjoy the food, they could probably serve up scraps but as I haven't cooked it it always tastes so much better.

Loukia said...

I know what you're talking about! I used to go out for dinner once a week at least too, before kids - or coffee and movie nights... and I loved it... and now when that happens, and the kids aren't with me, it is so quiet... and I feel out of place. I am almost restless, really... like, I'm not used to sitting so still without disctractions. Having kids has changed us in SO MANY WAYS that even going out for a nice dinner isn't enjoyed as it used to be!

LZ @ My Messy Paradise said...

I feel like I don't know how to act in a nice restaurant anymore. I've forgotten how to keep my voice low and how to eat slowly, enjoy my food and talk about something other than my kids and house...

ModernMom said...

So true! When we can't manage to do a dinner out, one of our fave things to do is take out for 2 at home. Not pizza or chinese. Take out from a real restaurant! Lovely!

Mwa said...

We still go out, just somewhere really cheap. We used to not go out, and then I went crazy.

Elaine A. said...

I certainly savor a nice dinner out more now myself than I used to in those "DINK" days. I'm so glad you were able to do so...

James (SeattleDad) said...

I hear you. I am losing perspective on what it's like to go out and not worry about anything, especially how late it is getting.

It will be a while. At least you got out. That is an accomplishment. Or at least it would be for us.

Midwest Mommy said...

If only I could go back to my DINK self and hit her upside the head with a budget and tell her to quit wasting all that money, lol

..... Carmen said...

I'm glad you were still able to get out, and that you enjoyed yourself :) It's been a long time since I've been out somewhere like that - I think trying to decide what to wear, and then what to talk about, would drive me into a stressful frenzy.