So how thrilled was I to get an invite to a 40th birthday with 8 other couples, sans their kids and mine, in a pretty city none of us live in to stay in a rented McMansion. Ah, to dream of three long days of eating more than just what is left on the kitchen counter. And the chance to sleep past 6:45am.
As soon as I arrive at this grown-up-getaway, I ask for a bedroom between two other couples whose little ones are around the same ages as mine. I also cajole all of us to a corner of the house away from the single friends and those couples with older offspring, fearing those folks might be looking for House Music All Night Long.
But as it turns out, mothers of young children can party harder than Marines on furlough. Because they are on furlough. And for those of us who don’t get mentally sufficient time away from our kids – our R and R can become more desperate and messy than said serviceman alone in a foreign country for the first time, with a bottle of scotch in one hand and a wad full of American dollars in the other.
Like when a woman weighing less than 200 pounds drinks Schnapps from 9am until way past 9pm. Keeping in mind that this female hasn’t eaten properly for at least two years, possibly for twenty-five, no less rarely gets out of the house to drink alcohol. In fact, just lifting her hand to her mouth – while holding actual glassware not made out of plastic, also filled with ice AND liquor 400 times in one day – is probably the most extensive work out she has had in five years.
All this excess could lead to things like her crying at the dinner table while the group sings happy birthday to someone else. And then fighting with a bouncer at a bar until he calls the cops, followed by robbing a centerpiece from a nightclub that has absolutely no monetary value, and losing all subtlety in an attempt to steal a kiss from someone she is not married to… just before she finally needs oxygen, through a gas mask, before being allowed to go to bed.
While I was strapping that oxygen onto TWO educated, highly respected, fully functioning members of society who are wonderful moms when not out on Friday night – or again on Saturday night when this all happened AGAIN – I realized this was not just a personal mid-life crisis for these two ladies. It is that of my entire generation.
Because once Party Patty and Dancing Dana were out cold on the McMansion bathroom floor, I accepted the fact that I too needed a hit of O2. A literal breather. Because although I didn’t vomit or attempt a non-marital make-out, I did many things to myself that I spend all week telling my children are not good choices.
Too much cake, too much drink, too little sleep, not enough kindness towards others… or myself.
But who do I call when I need to regulate? And how do I – and the otherwise moderate women temporarily hijacked by alcoholism on their one weekend free of children – find more time for ourselves while taking care of young kids so as not to implode on our time off?
While flying home more exhausted than when I left, I concluded that the only person who can prevent a mommy-meltdown is Mom herself. Sure we can say our partner, parent, job and country won’t allow us a break from our beloved and their unending homework/sports/playdates/need to do everything we didn’t as a child – but if we were old enough to have children we should also know that every adult is in charge of his or her own happiness. Yes the adage says an unhappy wife leads to an unhappy married life – but an unhappy mom is like a family bomb.
So when I get back to my impossibly full work and family schedule – it is of paramount importance for me to add one more thing to my overflowing calender. A weekly date – to yoga or book club or ladies lunch or even happy hour, but to do it on a regular basis – so that it doesn’t end in medical assistance the next time I get off the parenting hamster wheel.