When I first moved to North America, I loved saying the word "date." In England, where I'm from, we hardly ever use this word. It sounded so exotic and very Sex And The City to me. However, and despite my initial enthusiasm, I have found this word difficult to integrate into my normal diction (I even unintentionally put on a bit of an American accent when I say it). So even though it doesn't roll off my tongue naturally, there are some important reasons why I go on mommy-son "dates" with my kid, even if that's not what I personally chose to call them.
After a decade (or more, if I really want to stop and count) of living away from my homeland, I have just managed to start calling my weekly cinema outings with my husband "date night." So, honestly, using the same word to describe a special day out with my son seems strange to me. Which probably also explains my aversion to the term "play date," which actually manages to activate my gag reflex. We call them mommy-son "outings," which sounds more like a teddy bear's picnic than a romantic event.
However, it's important to remember that it doesn't actually matter what you call it. In the end, making time to spend with your child is always special. With that in mind, here are the reasons why I choose to schedule weekly "dates" with my kid:
Because I Like Him
Not in the "I made him so I automatically love him" kind of way, but in the "I actually genuinely like him" way. If he wasn't my child, I would still like my son. He is clever and interesting, funny and cute, and makes fantastic company.
Already 3 years old, he is an excellent conversationalist. My son asks interesting questions and is fun to be around. So, really and truly, why wouldn't I want to spend a day with him all to myself?
Because He Deserves It
Just once a week he gets my undivided attention. That means no chores, no work commitments, and no no other people drawing me away from him. I have no doubt in my mind that my son deserves that.
Because It Makes It An Event
By scheduling one day a week and asking him what he wants to do, we have transformed our "dates" into really special and highly-anticipated events. I am in a unique and privileged position that I work from home, so I am able to dedicate a whole day to my son.
Of course, there is a payoff. It means that I often have to work until very late in the evening (or during the weekends) in order to facilitate that one special day. Still, it's important to me, so I make it work.
Because I Work
Sometimes I have to ignore my child or say "no" when he asks me to play. Our mommy-son plans allow me to make it up to him, and essentially serve as a powerful motivator. (Think: "Remember we are going to the museum tomorrow for our special day?")
Because It's Good Practice
Not in the totally dry-heave-inducing "I am teaching him how to be a gentlemen" mentality that essentially argues that mommy-son "dates" teach your son how to treat women. I'm not necessarily a fan of that specific line of thinking. My husband and I work hard to raise a decent human being who would treat anyone well, whether or not they were on a date with them or want to engage in some sort of romantic relationship. So, honestly, I really push against the idea that my son needs "prepping."
What I am talking about is giving him the opportunity to practice social skills. Such as making conversation, having good manners, listening to me and others, making interesting comments about the things that he sees, sitting nicely on public transit, and basically acting like a civilized person (which, quite frankly, little kids need to practice).
Because They Are Fun
Our mommy-son dates have included trips to the museum, downtown, swimming, festivals, special events, and sometimes just riding on a bus (one of his favorite things) to visit a coffee shop.
I end up having just as much fun as he does!
Because Of All The Guilt
Let's face it, being a mom comes with so much guilt. It doesn't matter if you stay at home full-time, work from home, work outside the home, or enjoy a mixture of all the options; you will probably experience mom guilt at some point or another.
Planning and spending an uninterrupted day with my son makes me feel good about our connection, builds memories, and helps to deflate the mom guilt. That's the dream, my friends. That's the dream.