For years I've listened to other parents talk about their date nights with what might be considered a twinge of envy, but at the same time with the realization that Deus Ex Machina and I have never really participated in that cultural practice of date night for the married-with-children sect. Really, we've never felt the need to.
In fact, when we were "dating", we didn't "date" in the sense that we'd get dressed up and go out on the town, just the two of us, for a champagne dinner and a show. In fact, in those days, when we did go out, it was usually with a group of friends. When it was just the two of us, our usual date entailed walking (hand-in-hand) to the PX (eight miles - round trip) to get roast chicken and rent a VHS movie, and then, heading back to the barracks for our modified version of dinner and a movie. Eight miles is a long time to learn what a person is all about, and I'd wager that, by the time Deus Ex Machina and I decided to get married, we'd learned more about each other in those eight-mile walks than most people learn in all of the dinners of a life-time.
Deus Ex Machina has never been a flowers and champagne kind of guy, which has always been okay with me, because I'm not the kind of gal who enjoys empty displays or gradiose gestures which are usually more an attempt to butter me up in the hopes of some ROI (Return on Investment) than any real desire to make me feel special. With Deus Ex Machina there never seemed to be that underlying message of I-scratch-your-back-you-scratch-mine.
Deus Ex Machina has always been who he is - nothing more and nothing less, but always completely real.
All of that said, if there's one thing I've learned in my life it's not to get too comfortable with my strong opinions, because at some point that opinion will be challenged - such is my assertion that Deus Ex Machina and I don't have date night.
If the purpose of date night is for parents to spend time together - away from the responsibility of being parents - and take an opportunity to renew their couple-hood, then Deus Ex Machina and I have date nights all of the time. It's just that, unlike many couples, our dates don't involve low-lighting and empty romantic gestures.
When we were on our way home the other evening, chatting amicably in the car - as we often do-, we realized that we'd just been on our version of date night.
Deus Ex Machina and I had the amazing opportunity to spend the evening with Dan Agro (and David and Gretchen at Urban Farm Fermentory) learning about medicinal and edible mushrooms with an emphasis on Reishi.
So much wonderful information!
Studying medicinal and edible plants is a big part of what Deus Ex Machina and I do, and just like Dan said last night, we like to use medicinal plants as tea (rather than tinctures), which is both soothing and healthy.
In my epiphany during that quiet ride home, I realized that when Deus Ex Machina and I go on a date, it's usually our opportunity to share in a learning experience, and those types of dates really do make our union stronger, because gaining this knowledge makes us, as individuals, stronger and the sharing of a common interest makes us, as a couple, stronger.
The next muschroom class is on a Sunday afternoon, and I'm thinking it won't be a "date" this time, as I'd like to talk to the instructor about having the girls there, too.
But I'll certainly be keeping my eyes open for the next opportunity to steal away on a date with Deus Ex Machina and learn something exciting and interesting ... and on the way home holding hands and chatting in the quiet car, we can be reminded that this is what it's all about.
I wanted to remind everyone that Deus Ex Machina is doing a giveaway on his blog of my Aunt Connie's book "A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants." If you're not able to make it to classes, like the one we attended, this book is a great place to start learning about plants and their various uses.