Now that I'm out of the all-emcompassing baby phase, I've started reincorporating regular girls' nights out into my life, and man, are they fun. I'd really missed the spontaneous Thursday night girlie get-togethers that were such a big part of my pre-mom life but have seemed so impossible to pull off since I had my two kids, now ages 2 and 5. (Blame high-maintenance sleepers, personal exhaustion, and a lack of desire to attempt to look cute.) While my new nights out with girlfriends are still full of laughter and fueled by wine and margaritas, that's pretty much where the similarities end. Here's a breakdown of a girls' night out before and after kids.
Before kids: It's happy hour, ladies. Shut down computers at 5 p.m. on the dot and meet up right away because all of our days, full of meetings, office politics, and, OK, some online shopping, were just sooo stressful.
After kids: Negotiate with husbands to leave right after the kids are fed and bathed. Move up dinner and bath time and try to sneak out around 6:30 or 7. The day, full of temper tantrums, nonsensical, yet emphatic demands, and whining has been incredibly stressful. Surely hubbies can handle bedtime alone, at least without calling 10 times in a row like last time, right?
Before kids: It's a tough call between that dive bar with the great drink specials, that favorite sushi spot, and the sports bar with a hundred TVs and even more cute guys.
After kids: If we have to a) wait for a table b) strain to hear each other or c) wait too long for a drink, it's not happening. Any quiet (before we arrive) restaurant with good drinks and a menu that doesn't include a kids' section is just fine.
Before kids: Dealing with a breakup, waiting for a proposal, or looking for a new job? You get the floor first. Everyone else jumps in with somewhat helpful advice, affirmations about how amazing you are, and commisseration about their equally annoying boyfriends and bosses.
After kids: Your kid bit someone at school, kept you up for four hours last night, or decided to use your hallway to try out that rogue Sharpie? You win. Everyone else jumps in with actually helpful advice, affirmations about how amazing of a mom you are, and commisseration about their equally annoying children.
Before kids: Bottles of cheap Sauvignon Blanc and vodka sodas flow like water, especially during the warmer months. Everyone has Summer Fridays, so why not blow it out on Thursday and start the weekend off right? Even the worst hangover can be managed during a four-hour workday.
After kids: Things start strong (as in, "where is that waitress? I need a drink immediately") in an effort to get a quick buzz, then slow down as the night goes on. No one wants to get full-out drunk when there's the possibility that your toddler might still be awake when you get home. Two, OK three, glasses of wine is pretty much the max.
Before kids: A little hazy, but a little after midnight, someone decides to go meet her boyfriend while someone else remembers she has an 8 a.m. meeting. Either that or the restaurant runs out of your preferred brand of Sauvignon Blanc because your group drank them all (not that that ever happened to my friends . . . more than twice).
After kids: Shortly before 10, someone starts panicking about missing her usual 9:30 bedtime while someone else's husband calls, begging for help with a suddenly sick or sleep-averse kid. Everyone chugs that last glass of wine and runs home.
The Parting Words
Before kids: Let's definitely do this again next week.
After kids: I wish we could do this next week. Maybe next month?