Mommy went out on a Saturday night.
Mommy went out with a bunch of other mommies and had a good time.
Mommy had a nice meal where she only worried about what she was eating. Mommy had some conversation. Mommy had a glass or two or so of wine, and even tried some half-nasty lemon liquor that some other mommies suggested.
Mommy then saw most of the other mommies into another bar, where they were going to have an after-dinner drink and then maybe go on for some dancing, but Mommy was ready to head home at that point and said goodbye. The mommies had all met up for dinner about 10 p.m., and so Mommy didn’t get home until 3 in the morning.
Mommy knows that some of you, maybe mommies yourselves, might be reading this and saying, “Moms out on the town? Wow, what an idea. Um, does that mean you can leave the diaper bag at home?” And others of you might be saying, “This lady is excited because she went out to dinner? I guess she spells mommy l-o-s-e-r.”
So yes, I admit my social life is rather excessively children’s birthday party-centered, but that’s not too unusual for someone of my basic genus: middle-class, suburban American mother of small children. This gathering wasn’t a special group of friends; it was simply for all the mothers of kids in son the elder’s first grade to get together. And the automatic assumption was to make plans to – how shocking – do something we might have done before we had kids: have a regular evening out. (To translate from Spanish hours, imagine I got in at 1 a.m. Spaniards enjoy more nightlife and keep later hours than Americans.)
A similar get-together, say among mothers from the old California school, I can’t help thinking, would have been more, well, “mom-like.” An afternoon tea, an early dinner with some kind of PTA work as an excuse, lunch, or a glass of wine and a book discussion. All of which can be fun too, but there often seems to be the idea lurking that mothers, and fathers somewhat too, and especially parents with younger kids, are totally divorced from their previous adult selves. Or should be.
On the one hand mothers are told to maintain their previous interests. On the other hand, something as simple as having a drink with some friends can cause a mini-tempest. Or it does at least if the friends are also moms, and they’re nipping while their kids play.
Adult socializing can (should?) involve drinks, and part of the difference here springs from the old-faithful notion that Europeans have a more laid-back approach to booze, something every American undergrad on Junior Year Abroad happily discovers. Which contributes to the fact that in the U.S., instead of a mom simply having that drink or not, doing so ends up getting seen as an almost risqué novelty, and can provoke subsequent stern disapproval. And of course, it’s always fun to tell moms what to do.
I’m not even going to mention that some of the planning for the moms’ evening was done in the playground next to the school, where the kids played while the moms chatted, and some of the moms even – smoked. (No, nobody called child protective services.)
One other thing – it makes it a lot easier to remember you’re a grownup when your kids are in school regularly (more or less, as it goes, with sickness and vacations). Even a 24-7 baby wearer will eventually need a break. And so, as it often does, it comes back to decent child care options.
In any case, we had a nice time and we plan to do it again, although not immediately – next time the fathers get their turn to go out while the mothers babysit.