It’s no secret that your social life changes drastically when you have kids, but if I’m being honest, going out changed for me a long time ago, before I became a mom and in many ways, before I got married.
As a teen, I used to go out every Friday and Saturday night. It didn’t matter what I was doing, just that I wasn’t home, even if that meant driving around blasting music, parking by the river or in a secluded parking lot next to a friend in their car doing the same. If we were hitting the club or the bar, we wouldn’t even go out until 11 pm at the earliest, ending the night at 4 am at the diner eating chicken fingers and gravy fries. I hated when I had work on those nights. I didn’t want to miss a moment of being out with my friends.
In college, I was introduced to thirsty Thursday’s, which extended my weekend another day. Nobody in their right mind would schedule Friday classes if they could avoid it. When I couldn’t avoid it, my earliest class wouldn’t start until 11:15 am, giving my young immune system plenty of time to rebound from the night before. The weekends were spent at dorm parties and frat parties before moving off campus and upgrading to bars and apartment parties. Weekends were topped off with kegs and eggs to soak up the alcohol.
In my early 20’s and living on my own for the first time, I loved hitting up the bars still but the club nights mostly fell off (along with the super skimpy clothes). Still I loved to go dancing so finding a bar with a dance floor was like striking gold. Living in an Irish neighborhood this wasn’t hard to come by. Throw in a karaoke machine and we were in for a good night. But we didn’t have to go out every Friday and Saturday night all the time.
By my late 20’s I felt old in some of the bars I frequented. The girls dressed like they were hitting the club and it seemed like everyone was just out to meet someone. I just wanted to be with my friends. I wanted to hear what my friends had to say. I still went out, but my purpose was different. I started going to brunch, enjoying day drinking and lower music with select friends. I started going to casinos occasionally, dancing among senior citizens to a great live band. I went to concerts as I always did. I found more age appropriate bars. I made better use of my apartment. I continued a long tradition of trips to see my girlfriends in other cities.
But the tide overall had shifted. The second batch of bachelorette parties felt different than the first. I was much more concerned with my stamina. Would I be able to rage all night for a whole weekend? I was luckily greeted with friends on the same page as me.
And now in my mid-thirties, I don’t do happy hour much anymore. I rarely even do brunch. I am content getting ice cream on a Saturday night and watching TV on a Friday night. I like to go out on occasion, but I have to be extremely selective with how I spend my time. I want to give my time to my son, my family, but I know I need me time, friend time, and husband time, and I make a conscious effort to find time for it all. Right now, it may seem like the weight is more heavily on my role as a mom, but I know that’s only temporary. I know my other relationships matter. I know one day my son will need me less and I don’t want to lose myself or my other loved ones. I’ll need them even more then as I come back to myself and learn to explore going out in my mid-forties.