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I once believed a college dorm might be the loudest place I would ever try to sleep.   Then I had children.  And after having three, almost all at once, I didn’t sleep in my own home for about five years.  But now my two youngest are age four and I am entering “the platinum years of parenting.”  Aka the post-breastfeeding/pre-driving ages of 5 -10 years old, where as a mom I get to redefine myself – as a power sleeper.  Perhaps even while on the occasional weekend away from home where the best sleep can happen, now that my babies are old enough to be trusted with a Grandparent  (alongside a constant rotation of babysitters I pay double over a weekend to really watch them).

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.

  1. Nicole on Tuesday 19, 2013

    This is a good idea for parents to take some time out away from kids and busy lifestyles. I don’t have any kids yet, but if I do have them, I wouldn’t mind a mini-vacation away from them and hang out with some friends that have kids. :)

  2. Dan Mackey on Tuesday 19, 2013

    As always, you are wonderful, witty, wise and insightful in your writing. Thanks for letting us all be observers on your journey through momma-hood. Most often it’s great fun to read articles like these that are light and I also appreciate your thoughtfulness when the topic is more serious. Wishing you continued success, and thanks for the wisdom and fun. (and the occasional TV appearances).

    Me again,

  3. Bob Wagner on Tuesday 19, 2013

    Hi Diane,

    I’m a 53 year old married (once) father of two great high school kids. I’ve been unhappily married for about 18 years…I get screamed at every day and am called every name in the book in front of kids, family and even friends. I’ve thought about divorce but never gone through with it probably because of the kids but maybe that would be better left for Megan Reeves to decide.

    Over the last two months however, I’ve been watching for the first time, the ‘Numb3rs’ show. I’m on my second go-through (Megan just got transferred to the DOJ for maternity leave).

    I’m a CPA by trade and thus have an interest in the basic premise of the show for that reason. But, what has opened my eyes about myself is the Alan Epps character and how he and his late wife raised the boys, etc, etc…

    And I realized that instead of feeling sorry for my plight I need to stand up and take responsibility for myself. It literally hit me like a bomb. Words heard hundreds if not thousands of times over my life finally had meaning that I can embrace.

    What did that mean? Start by forgiving past behavior. Once I did that I became actually interested in what Kate has to say, not worrying if she was going to go off on me. And since we non-actors can’t fake genuine very well, by Kate’s responses to me I could tell that we may even have a chance.

    Then, for some reason this morning at work I looked you up on the Internet and found the ‘Mommys Gone Wild’ article you wrote last week. And in it I see the words – ‘every adult is responsible for their own happiness’ and ‘unhappy wife / unhappy life’ and ‘unhappy mom / family bomb’. Again, words heard hundreds of times.

    But the words carry a different meaning to me now: While I can’t make the people in my family happy, I can and will set the tone. By setting the tone in a positive way, taking responsibility for my own actions and now finding a genuine interest in what my wife has to say has been amazing.

    Perhaps it stems from the power of true forgiveness.

    So I watch your show and learn. Then I look you up and learn more. And maybe there is hope. Ms. Farr, you never know when it is your words that will have impact and really open eyes.

    We have a long way to go but you have to start somewhere. Thank you and thank Numb3ers.

    Bob Wagner

  4. Radka on Tuesday 19, 2013

    Your topic is very good again. I don’t have any kids yet, but I think that you have a good idea. Thank for your artikels, which are funny and wise. Radka

  5. steve on Tuesday 19, 2013

    Interesting. I also think part of the problem is society in the USA’s attitude towards their children. Children in this country are pampered and preened, and become the centre of attention, and this only leads to behaviour which I would consider rude, obnoxious and selfish. For example as a child growing up in the UK, I was taught it was polite to give up my seat for adults on public transport. Now as an adult in the US, parents expect me to give up their seat for their children. What’s worse, the Children expect this too.

    It is no wonder the pressures of parenting become too much.

    I read this recently, which I think explains far more accurately the differences in parenting

  6. Nicole on Tuesday 19, 2013

    I’m glad I went on Twitter and someone says that you’ll be on Oprah’s Where Are They Now? tonight at 9pm EST on OWN. Can’t wait. :)

  7. laurie b on Tuesday 19, 2013

    This could have just as easily described my weekend away with the mother’s I know from school. so so true

  8. staci rod on Tuesday 19, 2013

    I think all of this is because mother’s have become so isolated. They are in need of a community

  9. Diane Farr on Tuesday 19, 2013

    Yes, I agree or all of us just become a community of drinkers

  10. Rene on Tuesday 19, 2013

    There are also difinitive links now to post partum depression after c-sections – when women are not allowed the time to labor, their body does not produce all the bonding hormones and enzymes it needs to handle early motherhood. I wish people in this country would talk about this more… thank you Diane