Fanni and I had a date night last night. This practice, though more necessary than ever, becomes seemingly ever harder to accomplish. As the farm season kicks off, with extended work days, administrative tasks and evening meetings, most days don’t exactly lend themselves to focused recreation, sans-Ella or otherwise. However, driving my truck route on Monday, I called Fanni and floated the idea that we reach out to Kelly’s ChildCare for some potential help, and have ourselves a little date night. We just need it.
I got home from the road and we discussed our options. Hmm… can’t go to a movie. Can’t really go out to eat. Don’t want to spend the money on takeout. Kind of windy for a walk… We decided on two hilariously local options. Either go upstairs and watch a movie, or do some work in the yard. Exhausted, I leaned towards the upstairs movie option, and an excuse to shut down my brain and body for a couple hours, but Fanni was pretty motivated on the yardwork front.
Yardwork it was. So, once ChildCare Kelly arrived, we loaded our bicycle baby trailer with buckets and headed for Farmshed. There, we dug and collected some young raspberry cuttings that Joshua had graciously offered us, and headed back for home, where we also had a trunk full of young rhubarb plants and horseradish roots.
We spent the next hour or so digging holes. We transitioned from a raspberry date to a rhubarb date to a horseradish date. At the end of it all, we had a nice little raspberry border line between ourselves and our neighbors, a potentially jungly patch of horseradish and comfrey next to the kitchen window, and four small rhubarbs in our fenced-in perennial patch, next to the blueberries. We made a plan for sheet mulching the rest of the perennial patch, and building a hugel bed on the south wall of the garage on Sunday. By the time we watered in all the new plantings, Fanni’s hands were freezing, so we called it a date and “walked home,” where Ella, Kelly and Asher were partying in the living room.
Enjoyable though it was, I couldn’t help but thinking, Man, date nights aren’t what they used to be… Supplanting this thought were a myriad of thoughts about the flow and logistics of the next day. I’d be hanging with Ella all day, and had some plans. We were going to go check out a place on Lime Lake, where an old guy has a bunch of lumber he’s looking to possibly part with for free. We were going to go to the farm for a while, and hopefully plant horseradish and plow a patch for the new rhubarbs we’d gotten from my mother and aunt. We were going to take a walking tour of an experienced grazer’s pasture, and have a small farm finance meeting in the evening. It would be the most running around that Ella and I had ever done.
What would I need? Plenty of snacks, to be sure. Definitely the backpack carrier and the stroller. How cold would it be? Would I need the actual snow suit, or the jacket and bibs? I couldn’t forget the stroller. Would she sleep for a bit while I got that patch plowed? If not, how would I do it? Should I just plow intermittently while she runs towards the puppy dogs, carry her back a couple hundred yards, and do it again? Would she get fussy on the pasture walk? How windy was it going to be? Should I bring her with for the finance meeting, or see if Fanni would be down to keep her at home in the evening?
All of these thoughts lend themselves poorly to a relaxing date night. I love Ella with every bit of my heart, and every day I get to spend with her is an absolute blessing. I love Fanni dearly as well, and even a home working date night is wonderful in its way. But I love the farm also, and greatly enjoy the long days I spend there, working on projects. Sometimes it’s just hard to maintain perspective on the priorities in my life. Is there a part of me that would love to just do all of the things I’m looking to do tomorrow without Ella, and enjoy all of the convenience, freedom and effectiveness of rolling solo? Absolutely. But another part remembers that Fanni has a life and priorities of her own, and is more than deserving of some convenience, freedom and effectiveness in her own right. And the largest part knows that, for all of the undies changing, clothes changing, interrupted plowing, car seat juggling, stroller assembling and weather management, the day will be wonderful, and at the end of it all, I’ll have been blessed for another full day of adventures with my young daughter. And, as any parent can attest, a working date night is still a date night, as long as you get down at the end of it.