When my friend, who has a 4 year old and a 1 year old told me she was planning to go have some rescue martinis with a couple of friends and wanted to know if I wanted to come along, I jumped at the chance. First of all, it was on a Monday night, and how crazy is that- going out for drinks on a school night?
Secondly, I need to make a conscious effort to leave the house more for a destination that isn’t my work or the children’s school or activities. ‘Cause mostly I don’t wanna. Oh, I like the idea of Monday night martinis, but actually getting my ass out at the time when the kids go to bed and I would be settling comfortably on the couch in my pyjamas with either a good book, or more likely, an episode of the latest show I am watching, well, that’s a lot harder to do.
Still, I got over myself and made an effort. I don’t see my friend very often and I feel I might be becoming a weird little recluse.
We met two other women, friends of my friend’s, both with a toddler and a baby at home. The one woman who instigated the need for some rescue martini action by posting on her facebook account that if she didn’t get a good night sleep something dire might happen, arrived late after a fight with her husband. She had the harrassed look of someone who had not had a good night sleep in four years. Which, now that I think about it, is probably a successful torture method.
So 3 mothers with young children and me with my tweens. And don’t mistake me. I fully remember those days, when my kids were 3 and 1 and I thought I was going to die of sleep deprivation, or alternately fade away as a sentient person. All that would remain of me would be a lactating breast. So I am fully sympathetic and understanding and supportive of these women needing to get out.
It’s just that I had nothing to say. Nothing to bitch about. I spent the evening kind of bored, straining to hear what the other women were saying over the music blasting out of the speaker that happened to be right over our heads. And it wasn’t because these women aren’t interesting, funny, intelligent people- they are. It is just that at this time of their lives they are the walking milk truck. Although I never got to ask, I think that they are probably the primary caregivers; they are frustrated by their babies not sleeping; by having someone want something from you all the time; by having husbands who mean well but in their ignorance say things that are construed as hurtful. I understand all this. In fact, this is one of the reasons I started this blog: the black hole of parenting, where all that defines you get sucked into the vortex of other people’s needs, time and sleep deprivation. The result is, I’m guessing, akin to depression. I remember that feeling well.
But I am just not there anymore. My kids go to sleep on their own when they’re tired. Or if they need a gentle reminder, I just say, “time for bed.” No more elaborate rituals. No more needing to stick my breast in someone’s mouth and then work a Mission Impossible maneuver to get out of the bed. Nope. In fact, I don’t need to go out the way these women need to go out. Since my mother left in September, we’ve been without a babysitter, and I have to say it hasn’t been much of a deal. I just don’t need to escape the way I used to. Of course, it would be pleasant. Just not necessary.
So all you parents of small children out there: take heart. It will not always be like this. Your kids will grow up. Start to talk and walk and eat solid food. They will even begin to read on their own and ask you questions that you will find interesting and will want to pursue with them. You will no longer have to watch Caillou, Barney, Blue’s Clues, Dora and all other toddler forms of adult torture. You will have long conversations about complicated, nuanced subjects. You will remember who you are as a person and begin discovering who they are.
Trust me. It gets better.