In my life before kids, girls’ night out was so fun. My friends and I would go to our favorite pub downtown for a few drinks and end up chatting for hours on end about men, work, and fashion.
After giving birth to my first child, my participation in these outings came to a screeching halt. My son wasn’t a good sleeper and I felt more like a walking zombie than a woman – drowning in housework and laundry. (How could one little baby create so many dirty clothes?) With the arrival of my second child, I became a top – ceaselessly spinning right, left, center, and back. On some days I wasn’t even sure which way I was spinning.
I was starting to wonder where the old me went. When was the last time I said a bad word without spelling it? When was the last time I put makeup on? I longed for a couple of hours of good old fashioned fun and I knew if anyone could help me accomplish that goal, it would be my girlfriends. I set up a lunch date for the following Friday and could hardly wait. The day finally came and as I was running out the door (late as usual), I watched in horror as my three year-old son kicked the dog’s water bowl over and giggled with delight as the water splashed up the cabinets and made a giant tide pool on the kitchen floor. While he was enjoying the squishy sounds his socks made in the mess, his little sister snatched the baby food jar off her high chair tray and smeared a giant glob of orange goo in her hair.
I didn’t have time for this. I had a date with the girls. Without giving myself time to think too hard, I plopped that sticky orange mess in her daddy’s lap and ran. Half in an attempt to make amends and half with a sort of wicked delight, I yelled over my shoulder, “If you wash all that goop off her bib, you ‘ll see that it actually says, ‘I love my Daddy’ somewhere under there!”
All the chaos back in Mommyland started slipping away as I joined my girlfriends up at a high table and ordered a Martini. The chatter began to flow and I was eager to hear all about their latest escapades, but a mere ten minutes into the conversation, I was struck by a feeling of disconnect. These friends of mine were still the same crazy, carefree girls they had always been, but I was vastly different. I was a mom now. I felt as though I had been traveling abroad for the past three years, but instead of returning with a cool accent I’d come back with disheveled hair and unidentified stains on my sleeve.
As one of the girls whipped her new Prada bag up on the table, I looked down at my own purse and noticed there was bright green paint splattered across it. As another proudly showed off her new strappy sandals, I realized couldn’t remember the last time I shopped for shoes. I began to feel a little sorry for myself as I watched my other friend reapply her shiny pink lip gloss. Hoping to make myself feel a little better, I reached into my paint stained purse for my own lipstick. I didn’t find any. (Who was I kidding?) Instead, I pulled out an elephant.
It wasn’t a real elephant. It was an adorable drawing – one of my favorites of my son’s masterpieces. Holding that crayon treasure in my hand, I had an epiphany: this elephant drawing meant more to me than all the new shoes, paint-free pocketbooks, and pink lip glosses in the world. I loved being a Mom more than anything, and deep down I knew that my friends would accept me no matter how much motherhood may have changed me. And who knows, they might even like hearing about my adventures abroad in the land of flying food, sleepless nights, and Play-doh.
Carolyn Coppola lives in North Eastern Massachusetts with her husband, and two children. A writer for many years, she has recently released her first full-length book, Minivans, Meltdowns, & Merlot, a humorous look at parenting. For more information or to share your crazy motherhood stories, visit her Facebook page.