Mom’s Night Out: The Mixed Blessing Of A Vacation From The Kids

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Tonight, my sisters-in-law and I will head out of town for a bachelorette party. We’re welcoming one last sibling (by marriage) into our family. It’s an exciting weekend and it’s a chance for us to go out and let our hair down. Literally, I just straightened my hair for the first time in months.

The prospect of going out to the bars for an evening has all of us pretty pumped. All four of us will be leaving behind young children in the capable hands of our husbands and ignoring our responsibilities for about 24 hours. How often do moms really get this chance?

And yet, a mommy’s night out still doesn’t feel like it did back before I had kids. First of all, the preparation for an event such this feels enormous. Before kids, plans were made at 10 o’clock at night and the night could lead you anywhere. Now, we’re so desperate to cram every ounce of fun available into our limited time away that arrangements must be discussed for months in advance. I suppose it adds to the anticipation but it also removes the fun of spontaneity.

It’s not just our evening that gets over-planned either. You would think that our husbands had never met these kids before. We have lists of reminders and a written bedtime plan. We’ve made sure that there’s something simply to fix for dinner and pajamas laid out on the bed. Because your husband doesn’t know where the nightgowns are kept? That’s probably not it. I over-plan because I feel inherently guilty about leaving my husband to be responsibly while I’m out having a grand ol’ time, even if it only happens once a year.

I have to admit, I’ve had the same problems dealing with my daughter’s nights away. I was thrilled when my parents invited my little girl over for a slumber party with my niece. I couldn’t wait to listen to loud music, paint my toenails without her begging me to do her’s as well and maybe even downing more than one glass of wine. It was freedom! And my daughter got to have a special event while I enjoyed my down time.

Then, 9 o’clock rolled around. I laid on my couch, watching an R-rated movie just because, and wondered if my little girl was asleep yet. I missed giving her a hug and a kiss goodnight. I felt like a lovesick girl missing the arms of her first boyfriend. I honestly sat there holding my arms around my body and smiling at the thought of my sleeping daughter on the other side of town.

Where was my joy? After all the stress and frustration at the need to be “on” 24/7, I finally had a break and I couldn’t even appreciate it. Even with its frustrations, I was simply too used to having my little girl with me at night.

As I think about the prospect of sleeping in a hotel room while my little girl is cuddled in her bunk bed, I’m a little leery. I would be a complete liar if I didn’t admit to considering stealing a small stuffed animal of her’s, just to have in my luggage. How incredibly pathetic is that?

Listen, I am not the type of mother who thinks that you have to love absolutely everything about motherhood. I don’t think your kids need to be your best friends or that they should be the very center of your universe. I fully believe that moms need to be happy with themselves to be successful parents.

But even though I know that existing on my own is important, it’s just not something that I really want to do anymore. Even though motherhood has it’s ups and downs, I guess that for me, it’s still better than those nights out at the bars without any responsibility.

I’ll head out of town this weekend and I know that I’ll have a great time. My in-laws and I will have a couple cocktails, get a little loud and enjoy being adults. But it’s not something that I could ever make a habit out of. And in the back of my head, I know that I’m going to miss my little girl, even while I enjoy the prospect of a morning without her waking me up at 6am. I guess you can take a mommy out of the home, but you can never really take the home out of the mommy.