Before you got pregnant, you were the life of the party, the belle of the ball, the karaoke queen, and many other alliterative descriptions that spoke of your general ability to have and be a very fun person. You knew all the best happy hour spots and had the perfect pair of heels to wear out dancing that were the perfect combination of looking like "how the hell can she possibly be dancing in those beautiful torture devices?!" and feeling like "wow, I can actually dance in these without my feet dying."
That was you — before baby. Then it all went on pause. Not forever, but for a while. So it goes.
A few short weeks to a few long years after baby, you’ll decide that you are finally ready for a night out. You will shed your yoga pants, put on something from the dark recesses of your closet (whatever fits and looks vaguely like a thing a "fun person" would wear, which you're now realizing is an identity you're officially "dressing up" as, but you'll try not to think too hard about that right now since the babysitter gets here in 10 minutes), and prepare to rejoin the friday night fray.
Aside from shaving your legs, and slapping on some lip gloss, the only thing you should have to add to your “night out” regimen is a call to the sitter, right?
Think again, sister! Now that you’re a parent, there will be physical considerations that go along with a night out on the town. You will have to find the exact balance between the perfect amount to eat and just enough to drink to ensure that you don’t fall victim to the dreaded post-children hangover. (They’ll be up and raring to go first thing in the morning, even if you’re not.) In addition, you will also have to mentally prepare yourself for what used to be a “carefree” night on the town. Any veteran mom will tell you that there are at least 5 emotional stages you’ll have to successfully navigate during your kid-free night out.
When you're trying to have a night out and you have a baby, physically getting your body out the door is half the battle. Multiple interviews, background checks, and even a little Facebook stalking have all led you to believe that this is the perfect sitter. Yet, when she knocks on the door, you’ll find yourself panic-stricken. While you know that even the FBI couldn’t have been as thorough as you were when vetting this person, the prospect of leaving your kid(s) is terrifying. You’ve tried valiantly to night wean but what if the baby wakes up crying for a booby milk nightcap? What if your preschooler has a bad dream and needs you to sing the “monster squashing” song? What if this woman is secretly one of those crazy nannies that you see on television all the time?
You quickly decide that this was a terrible, horrible idea, and are about to send the sitter home, when your date for the evening (husband, wife, significant other, sister, friend) knowingly whisks you out the door and toward your freedom. Thank god someone got you out of there.
While you are taking some deep, cleansing breaths and giving yourself a pep talk, your date peals out of the driveway and begins wolf howling out the minivan window. You just stare at your child’s other parent (if that’s who you’re going out with), sitting calmly next to you. How can they so easily shed the shackles of parenthood? Why are you the only one worrying?
When I was in this situation, my line of (over)thinking came to a dramatic halt when my big brute of a husband began lip syncing (terribly) my favorite Taylor Swift song. I finally cracked, succumbed to giant belly laughs, and remembered how much I love him. And remembered, somehow right in that moment, how to exist and have fun without worrying about what my baby was doing. I decided right then to stop compulsively texting the babysitter and embrace my newfound freedom.
Upon arriving to the your destination, you look around and realize that while you’ve been cloistered up at home all this time, the world has gone on without you. Every night, throngs of people are out drinking, laughing, and socializing as if they didn’t have a care in the world. Meanwhile, you’ve been starring in your own version of Survivor every night, in which you tiptoe to the pantry to pull out your Oreos and boxed-wine rations. You can’t help but feel a teeny bit bitter: You love your tiny monster, but you sure have sacrificed a lot of your ability to have regular, random, easily accessible fun in the process. Never is that more apparent than during the rare times when you actually do go out.
With every hour that passes, and every wine glass that empties, you find that, eventually, after you’ve talked about every grown-up topic on your mind, all you really want to talk about is how amazing your offspring is. The two of you exchange cute stories about them, and suddenly all the aspects of parenting that felt overwhelming and burdensome just hours earlier, now seem endearing and fulfilling. By night's end, every person at the bar knows your birth story in vivid detail and has watched the week-by-week pregnancy montage you put together. (Hey, sometimes I overshare when I’ve been drinking. I don’t need your judgment.) The bartender finally cuts you off when you furnish a picture of your precious, little angel pooping on his Thomas the Train potty for the first time. (OK, in fairness, that last bit probably only happens to me, I’m sure the rest of you have more interesting anecdotes to share when you go out.)
You totally know better than to mess with a sleeping baby, but after returning home, you stealthily sneak into their room anyways. Determined to plant a kiss on your sleeping cherub’s forehead, you tenderly brush away the soft tendrils that shape their face. It could be the wine, or the dim lighting, but the rest of the room grows fuzzy and for a moment, all you see is your beautiful babe. At that moment, you’ll wonder why you ever wanted to leave in the first place. It seems that all you’ve ever wanted or needed was right there in those footed monkey pajamas all along. You aren’t sure you’ve ever seen anything more beautiful in your entire life... until you see your bed. And then you remember why you really decided to go out — because it feels so damn good to come home, take off your shoes, and pass out.
Images: Twentieth Century Fox; Giphy(5)