Every time I get a night away from my daughter, I feel like I’m missing something. I check my pockets, my purse and the reminders in my phone. The feeling never quite leaves me…for about 30 minutes. Then, it’s PARTY time! P-A-R-T-Y!
Don’t get me wrong. I love my daughter. I love my life. In fact, sometimes, I pretend I’m Julie Andrews on a hilltop, twirling in circles until I pass out. Oh, wait; that might be the wine because I can have more than one glass without my little sidekick. I am free! I’m like Baby in Dirty Dancing, flying into the air and landing that show-ending leap (I only added that last bit because my husband HATES Dirty Dancing more than any movie ever made and I feel like annoying him).
I don’t go out sans sidekick much (once every few months), but when I do, I’m like a bat out of hell. I don’t drink very often; so on these occasions, I usually end up three sheets to the wind, early in the evening, and then have a two-day hangover. I can no longer wake up and go jogging the next day, like when I was 25; and my daughter usually provokes mind-blowing headaches…but it’s worth it. It’s worth every damn minute of it.
My single girlfriends just don’t get it. I’m like Rita from Bridesmaids, maybe even Phil from The Hangover. When I finally get a chance to go out, I want to pretend that I am one of the wolf pack for a night. I want to live it up, all night long. I need a break, so I don’t break.
To all of the single ladies out there, I know you want to meet the man of your dreams and have babies (well, some of you do), but here are a few things you should cherish, while you still can. Marriage and children are wonderful, but appreciate the freedom you have for now. There will be someone attached at your hip someday soon. No, literally, someone will be weighing one hip down, possibly two, at all times. They will lift your skirt up and pull it down too; and I’m not talking about your husband, either. That’s another story.
1. Eating a meal in peace and actually tasting your food. Pre-child, I would go to restaurants. I would leisurely grab a glass of wine and wait for my reservation to be called. I would order appetizers. I would spend over an hour at dinner, enjoying the taste of my food. I would go to restaurants that took reservations. Prix Fixe did not come with a clown sundae at the end of the meal. I would do wine pairings. I would dress up.
Now, I only frequent chains where crayons are a requirement. Chevy’s is about as authentic as Mexican food gets for me. I don’t taste my food. I eat to live. I buy the cheapest glass of wine on the menu, even if it comes from a box. I wear the same clothes I wore all day, so there’s usually sand in my shoes or some kind of marker on my clothes. I eat quickly to avoid the inevitable meltdown. In-between every bite, I say something like, “Babyface! Eat your food!”, “Stop picking your nose!” or “Don’t touch that gum! It’s dirty!” or “Why didn’t you go to the bathroom when we were at home!” or “Oh my god! You peed!”
2. Going to the movies. I used to be able to see action flicks and romantic comedies, when they first came out on the big screen. In fact, my husband and I used to go to the movies every week. It was one of my favorite pastimes.
Now, we rent movies from Redbox and, most often, take them back without even loading them into the Blu-ray player. We can’t find enough time when Babyface is sleeping to watch them. Sometimes, we pay $3 for these movies with the delusion that we’ll actually see them. Redbox should cater their commercials to parents. We’re always the ones who keep the movies past the first night.
3. Buying groceries without an entourage. I used to enjoy grocery shopping. I would carefully plan out meals. I would shop for the ingredients with excitement. I would spend time picking out a nice bottle of wine. I would scan the bakery for the best dessert to top off a meal. I would even chat on the phone, while I shopped. It was a relaxing event.
Now, I either rush through shopping in the limited time I get while Babyface is at Preschool or I bring along my entourage of one. I either hurt my back trying to lift her into the cart or she hurts herself trying to carry the basket.
I can never go to the bakery at the grocery store because they always ask her if she wants a GIANT cookie. That’s just what I need her to have, sugar to make the experience even more fun. I spend about 70% of the time making sure she doesn’t run away from me. The other 30% I spend trying to keep her from taking things off the shelves and dropping everything like dominoes. I don’t dare step into the wine aisle because she will try to select one and I’ll be paying for bottles I didn’t even drink. I also have to avert her eyes from the stickers and the balloons or she’ll give me puppy dog eyes and I’ll be out another $5 or $10.
I don’t know what she touches, but she always manages to walk out of the grocery store with sticky hands. I don’t get it.
4. Relaxing. I used to sit in my recliner after a day at work and scan through the DVR until I found a show to match my mood. I used to read books. I used to surf the Internet. I used to take bubble baths. I used to close my eyes and listen to music.
Now, the DVR fills up and I just keep deleting all of the shows because I don’t like my daughter to watch them. If I read a book, my daughter will slowly walk up behind it and hit it to get my attention. “Mommy, what are you reading? Mommy, will you read me a book?”
If I use the iPad, she’ll tell me it’s hers, which is mostly true. We never use the thing because she’ll want to take over. I stand at the kitchen counter when I surf the Internet, so she won’t pester me. I give her bubble baths. Our bathtub is always spotless from not being used. If I listen to music, I will now hear, “I don’t like this song, Mommy,” until I change it to something her highness likes.
5. Sleeping. I used to sleep 8 hours. I used to take naps, if I felt like it. I used to sleep in.
Now, I’m at the mercy of a little person’s sleep cycle. When she naps, I get work done. When she sleeps, I try to sleep. If I can’t sleep, I’m s#$* out of luck. I am one of the walking dead, sometimes for days.
My daughter just woke up and gave me a hug, so “yes”, my life is pretty damn great, but it doesn’t mean I don’t need to let loose every now and then. And, it doesn’t mean I don’t miss my freedom sometimes.