So it’s been a long time since this blog has been updated, and I briefly wanted to address that, because I plan to post a lot about what has happened since I was last here. As of March 2022, I’m now a single mother of an eight point five month old little girl. When I started writing this blog, I was still engaged to her father, but we’ve since broken up. I’m gonna be honest with you; it felt weird to come back to this, knowing how different my tone would be. But, ultimately, I feel like I have to. I started this blog because I felt like my voice, one that talked about all of the hard and scary and dirty parts of being a mom, was missing from this genre of blogs and literature. And while that’s still true, I have renewed interest in being 100% honest about what life is like when you’re young, single, and the world feels like it’s out to get you.
So I’ve come back. And I’m excited to be on this journey with all of you. After this post, what you’ll probably see is primarily anecdotal back log of what’s happened since I was last active mixed with a few real-time updates until we’re all caught up. But this post? This post is about what it was like to go out without my kid for the first time ever.
Let’s start by introducing 17-year-old me, the dedicated party girl. I was never your traditional club girl. I was more of a sitcom adventure, the night never ends, what can we get into next? kind of girl. I was always down to meet new people, have new experienced, and just generally explore the world and all it had to offer. I had a reputation for being the drunkest, the loudest, and the highest person in any part, club, or miscellaneous activity. When I got to go out and have a good time, I was determined to have the best time, because 90% of the time I was working myself to disgusting levels of exhaustion and illness.
But even before I found out I was going to be a mom, I slowed down a ton. So last Saturday, when I decided that I was going to do something for myself for once and go out, it had been over a year since I had been out. In fact, I remember the last time I went out. It was right before my birthday, in the middle of summer, and I went to a massive party for a friend’s roommate. There were hundreds of people there. I was, in both my memory and my imagination at the time, the hottest bitch at the party.
I pulled up early, which meant that I was part of The Group. You know exactly what I’m talking about, too; a select group of people at the party who can get away with whatever they want because they showed up early to set up and stayed late to clean up. Outside of the birthday girl, I felt like a star. There wasn’t a single dull moment between the attention, the drama, the new friends, the chaos, or the booze and weed. For a while, I was even in charge of the music. At a party filled with musicians.
And, you know, maybe it just felt like that because it was so long ago, and because it’s something I’ll never be able to do again. But maybe, for a night, I was a sexy celebrity at a rager.
For this past weekend, I guess I went into it almost trying to recreate the magic of that night. That was mistake number one. My expectations were way too high. Especially if you consider the itinerary for the night: I was meeting a friend of mine for dinner and a play, and then she and I were going to meet another friend of mine downtown when the play ended around 11:00. My parents were set to babysit, and I had asked my mom a week ahead of time when she needed me to come home, but she’d encouraged me to stay out as late as I wanted. So I let myself get a little bit excited, thinking that this would be the perfect reset for me, a single mom who works three at-home jobs and takes care of her child full time.
Spoiler: I was so wrong.
Not even getting ready was a simple task. It took all day for me to do it. I had to make sure my house was clean and that my parents had everything set up for them; I prepared and refrigerated her bottles with warming instructions written out and taped to the fridge (I’m too poor for magnets, dude), made her little snack baggies for them to grab easily and conveniently, made her a dinner that they could easily feed her without having to do too much cleanup, gave her an early bath, set out extra clothes they may need, and even wrote out and texted them explicit instructions for how to use the TV. I also took a shower, decided on an outfit after trying on 35 of them, made a last minute decision to change my top, did my hair and makeup, and put on deliciously long sapphire blue nails.
I felt pretty, but I also felt nervous, anxious, and fat as f*ck. I’ve been struggling a lot with my weight since I had her. I’m not nearly as active as I was when I had a 9-5 job as an apartment manager and ran all over property all the time, and I gave birth to a ten-and-a-half-pound baby. It doesn’t matter that it was almost a year ago. It takes pretty much an eternity for a human body to bounce back from the trauma of birth, whether vaginal or cesarean. And, really, I should have been comfortable with my body. I’ve been this big before. I’ve gone out in tighter, more revealing clothes in a body pretty similar to the one I’m in now. And while I know that fact, and I know that I’m beautiful and sexy, it’s still hard to believe. Right before I got pregnant, I was at the lightest I’ve ever been in my life. I had lost over 100 pounds in about two years, and I felt good and looked incredible. And that was the body I had been going out in most recently. I felt like a frumpalump in comparison, disgusted by my belly tucked into my too-tight-to-sit pants and the intense purple stretchmarks peeking out under my crop top.
For reasons we’ll get to in a minute, my outfit was Mistake Number Two.
But I told myself everything was fine, I gave my parents the whole spiel about how babysitting was going to go, and then I left for the restaurant. I lost my first nail just getting into my car.
Dinner was actually okay. I didn’t feel like I could really eat anything, so I got a bunless burger and with fries and my friend Glitter and I shared two margaritas and just bullshitted about life. The thing about Glitter is that she has no children and actually goes out pretty often. At first, this seemed like a great idea! She would be like my personal guru. I was mistaken again, bringing our tally up to three.
While at dinner, I realized that I had gotten the date for the play wrong. It was 6:30, we couldn’t find a replacement play, and the only movie playing that evening was the freaking three-hour long
Robert Pattinson sex tape new Batman movie. So we wasted time at the restaurant, where I lost my second nail in the bathroom, and went to a gas station. We bought red bull. And if you think that’s the most grandma thing that I did, you should start your own mistake tally.
It was around 8:00 or 8:30 when we got downtown and found a parking spot, which was great, because we found free street parking downtown on a Saturday. But the reason we found great street parking was because there was virtually no one there. We sat and talked in the car for a little while, until I suggested (stupidly) that we just go and find something to get into.
We walked up, then back down the strip, and the only thing that happened was my incessant jokes about how Glitter and I were elderly ladies and it was too early for us to look as good as we did, to which two elderly ladies screamed at us from across the street to tell us we were beautiful works of art. At one point, we saw some giant bubbles, which Glitter wanted to go see. On the way to the bubbles, I tripped over my own feet and fell, to which a kind stranger told me, “It happens to all of us!” as he passed by.
It took about two seconds for her to get bored of the bubbles, so she brought me to a cramped, loud tent that was set up behind a bar with artists selling their wares and live music that ended immediately after we bought our beers. They had speakers and heaters in the tent, though, and it was cold, and we had nowhere else to be, so we moved to find a spot to sit. I heard someone call my name, and saw that one of the artists was someone I used to coach in speech and debate back when I was in college and she was in high school. It was great to see her, but seeing how much better she was doing than I was, her old mentor, was a tiny dagger to the heart. I mostly felt pride, but I wasn’t feeling any of the alcohol and couldn’t help being a brat in my frustration. There was also a baby there, because it was still early, and it just made me want to be home.
We hung out there for less than half an hour and headed to the bar that Glitter really wanted to go to. I was cold, tired, missing my baby, and as we passed a group wearing sneakers and sweatpants, I realized that I might still be young enough to go to bars and binge drink, but I was too old to be wearing heels and uncomfortable pants. Suddenly, my crop top and tight jeans felt like they were putting me on blast, screaming to each passerby a detailed list of my insecurities. We stayed there until a little bit after 10:00. We bought a couple of drinks and sat at a table and screamed at each other over the music. The DJ was struggling. I sacrificed a third nail to their bathroom.
It was around this point that I really just wanted to suggest that we go back, but Glitter had come almost an hour (or an hour? more? I’m not sure because I am a bad friend) into town just to be there with me for my first night away from my baby. But she was trying to match my speed, and I was trying to match hers, and we were really struggling to meet in the middle. I was hoping that meeting up with my other friend would be a good change of pace, but I stopped hearing from him after 7:00 that night, and I wasn’t excited enough about being out to really pursue it.
We went outside. A stranger told me I looked like Sally from Grease. You know, cigarette-black-jacket, “Tell me about it, stud,” Sally. I was wearing black jeans, black heels, and a black crop top with a bring pink sweater with cherries on it. I tried to let that moment fuel me. We saw a pretty drag queen in nine-inch heels, then a girl who had already removed her shoes and was walking around the cold concrete barefoot. I decided I wasn’t drunk enough to take off my shoes, and that if everyone but that one girl could do it, I could power through, too.
So we walked up and down again. My feet were really starting to hurt. And then Glitter decided that she wanted to go into this other bar that had a line and a cover charge, and I knew in my gut that I didn’t want to go in. The bar we had just left was quieter and had a much better vibe. The bar we were going into would have been my scene three years ago if I was blasted and had weaseled my way out of my friend group to go on an adventure. In fact, at one point it had been one of my friend groups favorite places to sneak into when we were still underage. It had sense gotten much busier, and I wondered if anyone was still pulling the shenanigans we used to.
So we waited in line. We were disrespected by a gentleman who was way too juiced up to still be out in public. We paid our cover. And we squeezed into the bar. We bought drinks again, and then my phone immediately started ringing, so Glitter and I stepped outside. It was my dad begging me to come home because they couldn’t get my daughter to sleep and they refused to lay her in her crib and let her cry.
I felt many things when they told me this. I felt guilty because I had dragged Glitter out just to have a terrible night, largely free from adventure (I’ll never forget that I’m a work of art or the bubbles, at least), and was just about to tell her we had to cut it short. I was a little irritated with my parents, because if they couldn’t get my daughter to sleep, they could have told me before nearly midnight. And I was a little disappointed, because I was still holding out hope that the night might turn around at some point and get a little more fun.
But mostly, I was relieved. All I had ever wanted in that moment was to be back home with my baby, in sweatpants, without a care in the world. I got back as quickly as I could, held her tight, and we both went straight to bed.
And another piece of my old identity took its last breath. The night itself wasn’t that bad, so I’ve been wondering over the last few days why it felt like such a huge energy-suck. I went to sleep at basically my normal time. I never ended up getting drunk and certainly wasn’t hungover. But what I was in mourning. Again. For the girl I was before I was Mama. And sure, I’m beginning to love the version of me that’s emerging. There are strengths and wisdoms in me that I never knew I had, and there’s a much better version of me somewhere on the horizon. But I didn’t get much of a chance to love the old me while she was still around. I took her for granted and squandered my days of being a badass hottie thinking I was a loser, or awkward, or ugly, or fat, or not enough.
And there are moments still when I am one of those things, some of those things, and even all of those things. But I don’t want to look back on this version of myself in three years, devastated because she’s gone and I didn’t take the time to notice how amazing she was.
So my letter to you, if you’re a new parent, and you’re struggling with your identity after becoming a parent, is to think of the you in the future who wants to be able to look fondly on these times. Everything is temporary. I found out yesterday that, while I was having this weird revelation downtown, someone I knew back in high school passed away in a car accident. We only knew each other by name and maybe by gossip, but it hit me hard because he was so young. It was so quick. And he has a family who loves him who will never be the same. I have a baby who loves me unconditionally. One whose happy, healthy, and so much fun to be around and hang out with. One who wouldn’t have been here if I hadn’t listened to my body the week before she was born. And one who, like all of us, isn’t promised tomorrow. My job right now is to hold her close. To be a good parent. And to take each and every moment as it comes. Parenting is a difficult transition. If you’re doing your best, you’re doing just fine. Forgive yourself.
Proactively! And often! Literally tell yourself, out loud, when you start berating yourself, “You can’t talk to me like that, and I’m doing my best. I don’t deserve this.” Your kid will think you’re hilarious, and after a while, you’ll train yourself to let those negative thoughts pass you by.
Alternatively, do whatever helps you get by and remember to look into that beautiful baby’s face and remind yourself why you do what you do. You’re unraveling the mystery of who you are piece by piece. It’s a long, slow process. Parenting is constant.