Late Nights For People Without Kids Vs. People With Kids

Once upon a time, I used to go out and have fun, without spending as much as a week planning for it beforehand, or several weeks cursing myself for it afterward. Maybe it's just a consequence of getting older; maybe it's a consequence of partying way less since having a kid; maybe it's a consequence of being tired all the time. Whatever the case, late nights are among the many things that are way different after having kids than they are before (at least, while those kids are still young).

I'm lucky to have had a fun, satisfying life before and after having kids. However, sometimes it's nice to remember the carefree good times I had when I had fewer responsibilities. So every couple of months or so, I decide to meet up with some childfree friends and spend a night having some non-family fun. Fun in theory, at least.

It's definitely fun at first. I get to relax a little, see people I haven't seen in a while, and not constantly scan the room for potential dangers at toddler height. But inevitably, I get a brutal reminder of just how severely my party muscles have atrophied. After trying to cobble together a meal out of "light bites" and finding myself staring down the barrel of a vicious hangover (totally unfair when you haven't even had that much to drink!), a night of reading and re-reading Goodnight Moon doesn't seem so bad.

I know I'm technically the same person I was before I got pregnant and holed up with my husband and kids, but some nights "pre-motherhood me" feels like a different species than who I am now. A more effortlessly stylish, put-together species, with a much higher tolerance for alcohol, noise, crowds, and teeny-tiny overpriced food. Sigh.

6:00 PM Then

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*Checks texts, sees where happy hour is happening that night, refreshes her eyes and lips, and heads over as soon as she locks her office.*

6:00 P.M. Now

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*Tries to get dressed and put on makeup while preventing her toddler from stabbing himself with an eyeliner pencil and trying to convince him to eat a snack or something until Daddy comes home. He refuses, but eventually agrees to give up the eyeliner in exchange for being allowed to play with blush. Toddler eventually has more makeup on than Mama. He puts down the brush when he realizes Daddy has arrived and made food.*

7:00 P.M. Then

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"Let's head somewhere we can get a table and maybe some light bites with our next round of drinks."

7:00 P.M. Now

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"All right! I'm wearing clean, non-stretchy clothes for possibly the first time this week, plus wearing my favorite earrings without fear of toddler fists yanking them out of my ears. Adult conversation, food, and drinks? Let's do this!

"Wait, they're only just considering appetizers now? TF is wrong with these people? I've normally eaten an entire dinner by now, I'm starving! Thank God I grabbed a few spoonfuls of mac & cheese on my way out the door..."

8:30 P.M. Then

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"Next round's on me! Maybe some tapas, too!"

8:30 P.M. Now

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"More drinks? Yeah, totally, I'm not a little tired and already a lot drunker than everybody else already at all, whoohoo! Can we maybe order entrees or at least food that doesn't fit on a tiny saucer? Oh, they don't have anything like that here? Cool, that's fine, I'm not at all on the verge of death after going several hours since my last real meal or anything..."

*eats a glob of lip gloss*

9:30 P.M. Then

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"All right, round of shots then let's head to the next bar!"

9:30 P.M. Now

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"Wait, we're going to a third location?! I thought these people were my friends, why are they trying to kill me? Our food-to-booze ratio is...some number I can't compute 'cause I've been drunk for at least an hour and a half. How can these people still walk and talk in complete sentences? How did I used to do this multiple times a weekend, every weekend, without dying?"

11:00 P.M. Then

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"Ooh! Music and drinks at a party two blocks from here. Let's roll!"

11:00 P.M. Now

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"I can actually feel my mascara expiring and my shoes are melting maybe? What is happening? Wait, we're going somewhere else? Why for? No. No. I'm too tired. I can't do this. As soon as my shaky fingers can figure out how to re-install Lyft on my phone I am sneaking home."

12:30 A.M. Then

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*Drunk-dances into some cute person's line of sight, plots her next few moves from afterparty to bed to brunch*

12:30 A.M. Now

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"All right, the fresh air kinda woke me up! What are the odds my partner is still awake enough to maybe fool around? Crap. He's asleep, but the toddler must have heard my keys in the freakin' door. All righty, let's spend the next half hour rocking him back to sleep while fighting an inevitable headache. How is it possible that I already have a hangover when I haven't even fallen asleep yet?"

07:30 A.M. Then

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*Sleeps until brunch at 1PM*

07:30 A.M. Now

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*Mentally prepares her acceptance speech for "Best Impression of a Functioning Parent Before The Ibuprofen Kicks In"*