Girls Just Want to Have Fun

Life has been busier than usual here – I suspect you can relate? – and I’ve been finding time and opportunities to write harder to come by.  I’ve also been lacking the inspiration to turn my thoughts into type.  Sure, my mind is racing as quickly as ever, chasing ideas into well worn pockets in my brain and finding there memories I haven’t touched in years.  And the places I’ve nestled into have been quieter and more private, less resonant, I imagine.

So it was with some interest that I visited Reverb 10, a creative project picking up where Gwen Bell’s Best of 2009 Blog Challenge left off.  Each day the team at Reverb 10 offers a new prompt provided by a different author, meant to encourage us to “reflect on this year and manifest what’s next.”  I figured this project would give me some good fodder for potential blog posts – because as much as I enjoy spinning stories and dreams in my head, I am always grateful for the community I have here and the chance to throw my thoughts out into the world of the Interweb.

Today’s prompt was provided by Shauna Reid, author of The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl:

What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans.

My initial response when I found the prompt waiting for me in my inbox this morning?

Yeah, right.  (Perhaps accompanied by a sneering upper lip.)

I am a pregnant mother of a 19-month old and a three year old.  I live in a rural town in the Midwest.  The only sock rocking I do takes place with Tiny Baby, as we bop along to the Beatles.  My only “shenanigans” involve racing around the house in highly intense games of “Rocket Ship Astronaut Adventure” with Big Boy.

Don’t get me wrong: I love our life.  We have wonderful friends, whom we get to see often.  And almost all of those friends also have young families so we get to share with them the mayhem and wonder of this time of our lives.  But, as much fun as it is to celebrate a fourth birthday with a lovely little girl, it’s not the same as the “social gatherings” that I imagine when I read Shauna’s prompt.

When I lived in New York City, my roommate and I threw an annual holiday party.  We would fill our undersized kitchen refrigerator with bottles of beer and store-bought dips.  We’d set up a makeshift bar on a table cloth-covered ironing board and try our hand at making Sangria.  We’d put out bowls of chips and plates of cookies (the Pillsbury cut-and-bake variety).  And we’d spend an evening laughing and dancing and drinking with our old college friends, our new work friends, and an eclectic blend of their colleagues and partners and neighbors.

I don’t really miss my pre-kid days of parties and make-up and blow dryers and sometimes drinking a little too much.  But I do miss a part of what they symbolize.  I miss some of the freedom, and some of the chance to connect with other adults about things that have nothing to do with kids.  And I think that’s why my first reaction to the writing prompt about parties was a cynical one.  For me, it’s often easier to criticize than to contemplate.

No, I don’t want that life back.  But I would like to tweeze out of it the pieces that I do crave: time with adults, more opportunities for carefree release.  I’d like to do a better job in the year ahead of making time to step out with Husband, to enjoy drinks with friends (yes, people, non-alcoholic ones strictly until after the baby comes), to laugh more often about something other than my kids.

Are you good about making time in your life for sock rocking and shenanigans?

Image: New Year’s Eve by Simon Collison via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.
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40 responses to “Girls Just Want to Have Fun

  1. Yes, I miss the carefree days when dark was when things started. But I love how grounded my life is now too.

  2. Hiya, I’m the prompt author today and having a nosey at everyone’s prompts, I really enjoyed yours! Personally I’ve got a really broad definition of a “social gathering” and “shenanigans”… whether it’s a wild party or a much-needed quiet cup of coffee with a friend, it’s all about an escape from the everyday 🙂 All the best to you and your growing family for the year ahead!

  3. Bravo to you for finding places and ideas to inspire you! You are a community go-to guru.

    I love parties. I love deep conversations that take me straight to the heart of it and I love a chance to sip some scotch. Single malt please. And, frankly, I LOVE the freedom of the party you’ve described…chips and slice and bake cookies. That sounds delightfully free of stress and full of personality. Just the kind of thing that invites a plethora of people.

    I’ve had parties at every stage of life: young cig-smoking gigs on my balcony when I was 19 and lived downtown and talked philosophical; the parties of soup and bread and “everyone at my house because I’m not getting a sitter”…then kicking them out at 2am. We’re now the hosts to lots of teens for parties and that is fun.

    I guess I like gathering. I like being with people and hearing what they’re up to. If that means the tots are along, so be it. But it’s soooo nice to have a whole conversation without interruption, isn’t it? I hope you find yourself out and about in the coming year. It does amazing things for my sex life and Love life. And it plainly chases the duldrums away.

    • What a fun description of the evolution of your party life. I’m definitely in the “everyone at my house because I’m not getting a sitter” phase right now…well, that, combined with “let’s all bring our kids so then nobody needs to get a sitter.” What I really need is to live closer to you so that your teens can be my sitters and you and I can go out on the town! 🙂

  4. Yes, I do miss those carefree days but we try to incorporate as much of our adult life into our family life as possible these days. Especially with “Number Two along the way, we know what freedom we have now when our daughter’s in bed (that’s when we usually go out) are numbered because the infant sleep pattern is so erratic and we would never feel comfortable leaving him/her with a sitter.

    I’m not a raucous party type, so New Year’s Eve has never been a big deal to me but ever since we had our baby, finding a sitter that night is impossible so we have stayed in and celebrated quietly. But even though I don’t care to be out that night, I miss the choices we had – should we go out to a bar/concert/restaurant or to a friend’s party or just stay in? Now it’s mostly Option C and Option C only. If we get anyone to join us, we’ll be lucky and happy, except most of our friends already have “adult plans”.

    So, what are you doing on NYE? 🙂

    • We’ve usually been the quiet-night-at-home types and will probably remain so this year. Then again, my father-in-law and his wife are coming into town that weekend and with them comes some free and ready babysitting, so you never know. January 1 is actually our wedding anniversary so maybe we’ll use their visit as an excuse to have a high-quality date night to ring in the new year and to celebrate our anniversary.

  5. Thanks to a couple of dear friends who are great at making plans for us, we have gotten better at rocking adult nights out (and at kid-friendly days out or nights in with friends, too). Heck, I’ve even had some girls’ nights!
    But because I’m away from home at work for so much of each week, I still have a hard time watching my social calendar fill up, and I struggle with guilt over not fully focusing my weekend on Jack or on our little trio of a family. (Same reason I rarely travel to see my best and far-flung friends, and that Don and I have yet to enjoy an entire night away together.) But I know there’s good in each or all of us having fun and balancing our experiences.
    This month I’m looking forward to a big dinner party (out!) that I throw every year for Don’s birthday. It hardly feels like a year since the last one! I suppose that’s an upside to being a busy parent and not going out with friends so regularly – the year is peppered with a handful of rock-your-socks off socializing, rather than full of so many that you can hardly choose a favorite. 🙂

  6. I also miss the carefree days of adult conversation, musing about philosophy, pop culture and everything in-between. I wasn’t much of a late night pary goer, but my husband and I would love to frequent book stores, get some coffee and maybe catch a late night movie. Most of the parties I attend now include five year olds and some lemonade. In fact, I believe my daughter has more of an active social calendar than I do.

  7. It’s funny…I never really felt the need to party until I had kids. Now I tend to find reasons to get friends together and socialize (and drink a bit too much) on a more regular basis. Not sure what that says about me! Those pre-kid parties were different though, for the freedom you describe.

  8. I don’t remeber the last bash I went to that was memorable, really. And I liked this post. I like that you enjoy your kid-days and wouldn’t go back to pre-kid days.

  9. Since a number of my friends have split up I have been invited to a number of parties that remind me a bit of our younger days. Joint custody has provided them with “child free” opportunities.

    Although I have noticed that the furniture and alcohol is a lot nicer than what we had 20 years ago. To be fair, none of them want things to be as they are, but they are trying to make the best of it.

    Life before kids is something that is just a memory.

  10. I know myself and I knew that even once I had kids, I would need to go out, to have drinks with friends, to talk about things other than parenthood and its demands. And so, from the very beginning, I blocked off Thursday and Saturday nights as “out nights.” Obviously, this is a tremendous luxury. And, predictably, I rarely spend these nights partying hard like I once did. But we do get out. Husband and I. And with our friends. Doing this is vital to my happiness (and sanity) and without these regimented times out of the house, dressed, conversing about life beyond little ones, I’m not sure I would enjoy parenthood as much as I do. Great post.

    • I think that is exactly the strategy that I need to implement. Husband and I did try for a weekly night out, but then I got pregnant again and wasn’t feeling so well and the kid-centric rhythms of life sort of took over again. But we’ve got to get back there – and why wait till after Baby #3 arrives? Life certainly isn’t going to get any calmer once he/she is on the outside!

  11. I wish I had preserved the date night/go-out night once we had children. But I didn’t. And now, our relationship suffers for it from time to time. But we’ve started a Halloween tradition with a number of families in our neighborhood (I make the big pot of chili, they bring the sides and then we all go trick-or-treating together). So we still have our “shenanigans” only of a different flavor.

  12. Oh, boy! Can I relate! And I only have one child. I wouldn’t trade the life I have now for anything, but you really hit the nail on the head when you said, “carefree release.” I do miss that. I have been focusing on having more adult interaction lately. But scheduling it is so difficult and stressful. And we have to say no to so many things. So yeah, I get what you are saying completely!

  13. Shenanigans? With kids?

    Nah.

    There were many years when we had no idea what movies had even been out.

  14. I wouldn’t trade the life I have now for all the parties in the world. However, like you, I sometimes wish I had a little more flexiblity to revisit times gone by. To wear a pretty dress, put on some makeup and walk arm in arm with the man I love, sans the kids.
    I suppose there will be time after…in the meantime, my kids think that movie nights in our pj’s rock…and when we run out of popcorn, there are some SERIOUS shennanigans!

  15. Being pregnant and winter, we are totally in the kid-centric rhythms of life! I was just telling my husband that I keep shopping for a “holiday dress” when I have nothing to wear it to. That fact sort of depressed me, but like you I am happy with our lives and we do plenty of social things with friends, it just usually involves the kiddos as well.

    I am starting to crave a night out and we do try and do a date night at least once a month, but perhaps another one would do us good.

    Great topic!

  16. Totally relate! I have been missing the freedom and adventure of earlier days, and I often feel exhausted by the responsibilities of two children and work and writing. Tonight, we are supposed to go to a party, and honestly I just want to go to bed. I am guessing it will be lots of fun, with lots of shenanigans, but still. I think a weekend in LA or San Fran would do me well.

    • You’ve identified another one of my problems, Dana: when we do make plans, I’m often overcome by sloth and rarely want to follow through with them. Rare, though, is the occasion when I regret having motivated myself to get up and go out. It’s funny how energizing it can be simply to leave the house without kids in tow.

  17. It’s always a pleasure to read you – no matter how often you write!

    The prompt you reference, and the space in which you find yourself, reminds me how much we change with motherhood and the various stages we go through. It also reminds me how tiny my world has become – tinier in recent years – outside the daily demands of parenting and this virtual space, for which I am immeasurably grateful.

  18. Here’s to a virtual Holiday Dinner Party amongst friends—always room at the Inn and always room for one more, yet delightfully not over-crowded. No one feels harried or self-conscious (after all, our bodies all stay home and need not bother with social anxiety), there is great food, delectable drinks that hurt no babies, sugar that triggers no problems and dancing that liberates rather than shames. It goes on forever, yet the next morning we awaken refreshed and without signs of punishment. That one was/is the best party of this year—I’ll always think fondly of it in my old age 🙂

  19. Indeed I’m feeling much like you. Less need to share these days, more need to reflect and let my thoughts toss around my head. Curious how life is like a pendulum like that.
    I’m hosting a dinner party for my book club tomorrow night. We each take our turn every month so that at least once a year we dazzle up something delicious and send our husbands and offspring out. I missed my last opportunity for a number of reasons so it has been quitely literally 14 months since my last dinner party. Before kids I used to host one a month. There are times when I miss it, and I look forward to tomorrow night, but I’ve grown accustomed to a simpler life and could just as soon take it or leave it.

  20. This was a timely post for me, Kristen — to answer the question you ask at the end, yes, we’ve done a lot more sock-rocking in the last WEEK than I remember doing in the last three months. Chalk it up to holiday get-togethers, an attempt at a date night (traffic was insane, long story), a going-away party for a colleague of my husband’s who is moving across the country, visiting a longtime friend who just moved to our city … and that’s not even the full list.

    I’ve enjoyed the excuses to get out of the house and meet other people. I knew it had been too long when someone asked me what my hobbies are and I had to think a little too long before answering.

    As for things being “quieter and more private, less resonant” where you’ve nestled of late, I imagine they are still resonant spaces for you, just in ways that don’t present an immediate hook for writing in a more public way. I get stymied by that sometimes (usually my reason for lack of posting).

  21. I signed up for reverb#10 too but haven’t yet posted anything.

    As for rocking my socks off, thank goodness for my husband who is a perpetual kid. Our latest escapade, going to see Roger Waters and his The Wall show. It DID rock my socks off and I’m so glad my honey made me do it.

    I also want to mention that I think it’s so important for you and your honey to get out and socialize. You likely cannot see the finite-ness of the little ones, but it’s there and you will need to have that bond with your husband last through these years so you have something when the little ones leave the nest. I know you know this, but me being on the brink of a teen driver really is hitting me….sheesh.

  22. This is me exactly. I do miss the adult only time, but it’s hard to schedule it in. The last time I was up past midnight for an adults-only gathering was last New Years. And I’m pretty sure that it was torture to stay awake that long. Life changes and moves on in so many wonderful ways, but it’s nice to grab a little piece of the past now and again.

  23. Um carefree days? What are those? I was the very studious girl who rarely left the dorm. True that.

    Seriously, though, I’ve always preferred to be at home than abroad. Now with Ben’s work schedule, I do not like taking him (or me) away from the kids. He only gets to see them for like 5 hours a week. That’s just not very much time when social things are included; thus, we keep our calendar very limited. It helps that most of our friends are poor, like us, and don’t throw parties. Thank goodness.

  24. If I’m honest, social gatherings often feel like a chore to me. First, find (and pay for) a sitter. Then put on our “extrovert” hats for a few hours. Then go to bed too late and wait for the kids to wake us up at oh-dark-thirty. Worth it? Usually not. For us, anyway.

    We went out a lot in college, but now we’re really, truly homebodies. And we like it that way. How did that happen?

  25. I think it is really hard when they are really little like that. But now, even just a little bit older, it is so much easier to get out and escape for a while. Or to send the kids over to Grandma’s and host at our house. It will happen for you again!! Especially if you want it to! 🙂

  26. I’ve recently discovered that I absolutely have to have some “me time.” As a single mom to two active boys, I spend 98.7% of my time taking care of them in one form or another. However, I know that if I take care of me a little bit, then I’m much more prepared to handle their busy schedules, the curves life throws my way, and I can do all that with a smile on my face.

    Social time with my good friends is one of my best ways to recharge. Doesn’t have to be a sock rockin’ time..just some TIME!

    • Amen to that, Kimberly. I am a big believer in that old saying, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” It sounds to me like you deserve all the free time you can manage.

      Thanks for stopping by Motherese!

  27. Yes, being a family person certainly does change how one invests his/her time. It has been 10 years now and I would not change anything about my currently “boring” life as dad.

  28. My only rocking seems to be at Galas nowadays, and we only go to about 2 a year. My next one is in March. Also, I guess I can look forward to my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah in a year and a half! For a while there my husband and I were going on dates where we’d end up at some dance clubs but now that our son is our babysitter we have much shorter dates. Sometimes our dates involve them…

  29. I just love girlfriend time. A few Mamas and some beers and still in bed by 11pm, about once a month is my favorite party.

  30. I must admit, as you probably know from following me for a while, that I DO still like my immature rockin’ and partyin’ time. It keeps me (and Hubby) sane to be a little stupid every once in a while…and i do mean ‘stupid.’ When we go dancing, we still drink a “bit” too much, and end up either jumping up and down together or doing the traditional Miami booty dancing (soooooo not classy) and laughing our asses off. On the other hand, since neither of us can stand too much of the same thing, we often sit for hours (again, alcohol required, but this time with a wine bottle opener) in our little private room we’ve created at home, sitting on the floor with candles and talking, talking, talking. No joke. (Slightly more refined?) And then, yes…girlfriend time….a must. But…I do, too, love a rockin’ game of “Chase the Little Ones Around the House in our Slippers and Pretend We’re Pirates.”

  31. Just what I needed to read! That even Motherese goes through bouts of no inspiration! I’m suffering a doosey at the moment. But onto the topic…. oh, the lack of freedom and carefreeness!! How I miss it. Living in Tanzania, I often find myself jealous of my husband’s childless co-workers who announce on a whim that this weekend they’re going on safari or to the Seychelles, or to Zanzibar, wherever! Although we can do those things too, with a little one, it’s so much more of a production (and oh, the packing and unpacking before and after…. we’ve discussed this!).

    Sorry to ramble, but a couple weeks ago my dad was visiting and I got to go on safari with him and without my daughter (we’ve been on 3 safari’s with her) and stay at a posh lodge. In anticipation of the trip, I dreamed about how relaxing it would be and how into animal behavior I’d be and how I could just *be*. So not the case… I was stressed the whole time about staying on schedule so we would be back home in time to see my daughter and not miss another night away and not have my husband have to scramble to put together another meal (since the ones I’d already prepared were finished!). Just a new phase for us in which I’ll continue to strive for and maintain perspective!

  32. I have so many NYC memories. But as a single girl, all I wanted was what I have now. So …

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