Two moms walk into a Chinese restaurant

(This is not a joke.)

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By Susan Konig


My friend Julia and I love to meet for dinner once a month without husbands or kids. We usually go to the same Chinese restaurant and order the same dishes. It’s really not about the dining experience; it’s about talking and laughing and catching up. It’s about completing sentences without being interrupted.

I know married couples are supposed to do this — get away from the house and the kids and the chores, have a date night. But frankly, my husband and I rarely get around to it because we have to book a babysitter, choose a mutually agreeable restaurant, and think of things to talk about. We are easily irritated and actually prefer staying home to enjoy a movie and ice cream after the kids go to sleep.

Going out with a friend is less stressful. My loving husband is often ready to take on our four kids and Julia’s two for a night of pizza and cartoons. So we girls have two hours just to relax and be the people we used to be before we were moms. Occasionally, over egg rolls, we even end up talking about literature or something we learned in college before chauffeuring kids to lessons, setting up play dates, and nuking chicken fingers put our brains on intellectual pause.

When the kids were little, we had a Friday morning club. Four or five moms would meet at one mom’s house, and it would be her day. Say there was a kitchen stool to be painted, a crib to dismantle, copy to be written, or a design due on a job. That person would have the time to do that job and the other moms would watch her kids and drink tea and socialize.

We got a lot done in those days. Some jobs, though, never saw completion. I wanted to hang picture racks in my living room. After a mom helped me put one up using a level and a power drill, I decided to paint the other two before hanging them. They are still sitting unpainted in my basement, and my living room wall has one lonely picture rack off to one side still waiting for the other two.

I felt badly about this until I went to my friend Sue Ellen’s house. She showed me the hallway where she had painted one wall when it was her turn one Friday. “I never painted the other walls after that. Just never got around to it.”

“Never got around to it” — the refrain of the busy mom. Yet if you asked us what the best part was from those Fridays before our kids were off to full days of school and crazy schedules, it wasn’t the household or work tasks we completed (or at least started); it was the camaraderie, the laughs, even the tears. At this point, we’ve been through a lot together: colds, flus, broken arms, cancer, divorce, our babies becoming teenagers.

On nights when we’ve finished eating and it’s still early, Julia and I debate whether or not to head home. “We could go over to K-mart for a half hour,” she’ll suggest.

“And not have children pulling at us as we browse sheets and towels?” I gasp. “Do we dare?”

The bright lights beckon. We decide to be daring and roam the aisles. And we don’t go home until 8:30! CD

Susan Konig

Susan Konig is the author of I Wear the Maternity Pants in This Family (2007) and Why Animals Sleep So Close to the Road and Other Lies I Tell My Children (2006). Visit Konig's Web site at susankonig.com, and on Facebook at facebook.com/susankonig