I am a very happy parent of two kiddos. They are amazing and I would not change them for the world. But you know what – having kids doesn’t half play havoc with your social life. Yes everyone knows that you can’t drink whilst pregnant and there are a lot of really positive spins you can put on this like you can still go out and have fun with no hangovers in the morning. And I am sure there are people in the world for whom this is true. However I would like to refer you to introductory blog post ‘one hand clapping’ I spent all my teenage and university i.e. formative drinking years in Ireland. This kind of argument will not hold up with me. Drinking is to be honest just brilliant sometimes. Without it nights seem so long, your tiny pregnancy bladder can only hold about an egg cup full of liquid and 5 soda and limes are going to hit that bad boy hard. Without the comforting alco-blanket that encases you on a night out you are just patently aware of how your shoes hurt, it’s a bit too cold, the bar smells of stale beer and just how darn tired you are. And finally everything is funnier when you are drunk – fact!
The only thing harder to face than a pregnant night out is a pregnant wedding. Now I love weddings – the best days ever. All pretty dresses and champagne by 12. What’s not to love? But sober weddings are something else altogether. They are soooo long. How many photos do these people really need to have? When is the bloody food coming? … When? You start hunting down servers of canapés like a lion after a limping wildebeest (yes I was surprised it was spelt like that too). Everyone is hammered after 3 pm and you notice with panic the glassy stares around the table when the food eventually comes. No one should dance when sober – you become painfully aware of everything you are doing and it’s hard not to be with a basketball up your dress. You need to have no self consciousness with dancing otherwise it’s embarrassing for you and everyone else. (Example: Louis on SCD – he’s very good and everything but he always has a slightly pained face that shows he just feels like a bit of a twat. Lisa on the other hand obviously has a double vodka before every performance). Your partner has lost his jacket, his balance has gone to pot and he’s dropped the pork bun evening buffet apple sauce all the way down his shirt (think of this as training for toddler management). And all you can think is… if only I were hammered this would be amazing.
The first time mother also tends to be quite focussed on the pregnancy and birth bit so you kind of think that it won’t last forever as it’s only 9 months. But by the time the baby is three months old and you are just about able to get your pants on the right way round and that you realise you can’t remember the last time you wore mascara, the thought of a night out is usually followed by a manic hollow laugh. It takes a long time for you to be able to feel like you can get that booty back out there properly and for me the kids were about 6 or 7 months old before my first large night (dinners and sensible one glass of wine evenings don’t count by the way). Both my kids are under three which means out of the last four years I have basically been out of drinking action for 3 of them. To be frank that is a statistic that I am just not happy about.
It also means that I am liable to get very(!) overexcited at the merest glimmer of a night out ahead. This is dangerous. A newly unleashed mother onto a social evening has an awful lot in common with a 15 year old. You basically have only one ‘best top’. It is the only one you can fit into that is presentable enough for an evening out. Only now it is due to girth rather than cash restrictions. However you still manage to spend the best part of a week wondering what to wear. You don’t quite know how to manage social situations yet and any male attention bewilders you completely. And finally and most importantly your tolerance to alcohol has completely disappeared. The overconfidence of youth that led you to create a cocktail from 1 cm of everything in the parents drink cabinet so they wouldn’t notice anything missing – which then resulted in you vomming all over the place by 10 pm. Is replaced by, an overconfidence that you used to drink this all the time so no worries here attitude – that results in you vomming all over the place by 10 pm. My first few nights out after children were marked by; ‘losing’ the front door keys only for them to be found by the hubster lying in the middle of the driveway where they had been all night therefore posing something of a security risk as we live on a main road, some falling over, one (albeit discreet) public urination on the street (though part of that can be safely put down a stressed pelvic floor I reckon??), and, many, many vomits. The parent of the year award was lost for me when on the way to Peppa Pig live my husband had to stop the car for me to vomit on the road during a particularly heinous hangover.
If you are a sensible lady then do not worry on your first few nights out you will be clever and alternate drinks with water and eat things and be witty and finish the evening with touched up lipstick. Congratulations and five stars to you – have a sticker! – sorry forgot who I was talking to. If however you fall into the bracket that you may start with good intentions but a few drinks in the good feeling starts and the water is ignored and then at eleven you decide that the only thing that would make this amazing night even better is tequila for everyone! Then be practical upfront – do not go out with immaculate face from baby massage who believes her baby ‘completes her’ and get plastered. Go out with old friends – the friends who will tuck you into a taxi before it gets too bad and hold your hair if you need to be sick and most importantly not judge you the next day or entertain you with ‘hilarious’ stories about the things you did. And most importantly do not give yourself a hard time. There’s quite enough guilt we lug around as parents about every decision we make anyway – one night off is not a problem.