It’s New Year’s Eve; a night I used to enjoy, so much so that I hosted the party in my neighborhood for years. Dancing, drinking and laughing, we rang in the New Year and finally called it a night at about three in the morning. Those were great times; tossing confetti, consuming champagne and dressing up to spend time with our friends celebrating the past and anticipating the future. But slowly, without really noticing, much like the way my thighs have evolved beyond recognition, our party became a thing of the past. We were no longer carefree, could no longer head out and enjoy our evening because seemingly overnight we all had kids to consider. Our toddlers and middle schoolers were suddenly people of their own with damn plans of their own and going to grandmas to bang pots at midnight wasn’t going to cut it for them. Once they started high school, it was all but over for us because now the party was at Jimmy’s and everyone knew that Jimmy’s dad would let them drink or God forbid, Mark had his license and they were all going to some house party two towns away. Worse, your kid asked to have the party at your house which meant you were on duty until five am making sure that no one snuck vodka in Gatorade bottles into your basement and no girls got pregnant on your watch. Conceiving reasons to head down to the basement to inconspicuously blend into the crowd to spy consumed your night now. Then, even worse, they became old enough to drink and you had to pray as they bar- hopped that no one would drive, that the designated driver was indeed sober and that the other idiots on the road wouldn’t broadside your kids’ car sending them catapulting into a ditch, trapping them in a blazing inferno, (because in your scenario, it’s never a simple fender bender) to ring in the New Year. The days when the kids were blissfully asleep upstairs, with a sitter or at the grandparents’ house are over, and now that I am in my pj’s watching New Year’s Rockin’ Eve listening to music that hurts my ears, played by bands I’ve never heard of and accepting that Dick Clark is no longer hosting, I find it hard to remember what New Year’s Eve used to be like. I still drink champagne, but not too much as I have to stay sober for the possible drive to the hospital or police station, I now drink it with pizza rather than filet mignon and I do it, not at a party with friends, but while on my couch, fighting to stay awake. I watch the clock, text the kids at midnight and when one doesn’t answer, I’m sure it’s because they are indeed lying there trapped in the blazing inferno that used to be a car and their phone is just out of reach. It takes all I have not to start calling local hospitals and get dressed so that I look presentable to the doctor when I have to decide if they are having emergency surgery or not. So, to all the parents of younger kids out there; quit complaining for these are the best New Year’s Eves you are ever going to get. If you don’t have a sitter, then a few loud pots at midnight, having to entertain them until then or being forced to stay awake yourself is your greatest concern. Enjoy it. Your future is terrifying, so party on now while you can. For the rest of you; God bless. I’ll be thinking of you tonight; commiserating, worrying myself sick and being forced to watch the rest of the world ring in another year in which you have to worry constantly about every little hair on every single one of their heads. Parenting is not for sissies and New Year’s Eve proves it every year. Happy Freaking New Year!