At 8:00 a.m. on a Sunday after just four hours of sleep, I woke up to the churning sound of a breast pump. It was attached to my friend Marissa, who was nursing a hangover from our previous night out instead of nursing her 8-month-old daughter. While we were at a hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey, said baby was back at home, patiently waiting for her mom’s milk to return safely.
Sleep deprivation, of course, is pretty routine for most parents — but it’s almost welcoming when it’s the result of an all-night dance party rather than a night spent running between bed, bathroom and bassinet.
Between me, Marissa and our three other friends, we had nine kids (14 if you count our partners). It took five months of planning for us to make an overnight trip away from our families happen. We nicknamed our group text “Bad Moms ’17” and filled it with #TBT photos of our misspent youth — nights out in Manhattan and beyond, all over 10 years ago.
“What are we trying to convince ourselves of?” I wondered. That we still have what it takes to party? That we can, if we try hard enough, stay up past 11:00 p.m.? That we haven’t allowed ourselves to settle into the role of mom and nothing more? Maybe, probably, definitely.
A recent study conducted by a British retail chain showed that nearly half of adults dread social events or nights out, preferring to lounge in the comfort of their own homes; I know I fit snugly into this category. But I also believe that once in awhile, I need to step out of my comfort zone, out of the monotony of my routine, and create new memories damn it. At the very least, the future of my #TBT group texts depends on it.
So off I went to Atlantic City. I was amped to be with my friends and excited for what the night had in store — but I’ll admit I was equally anxious about my little ones at home.
The Borgata hotel, our favorite in the city, did not disappoint, and our adjoining rooms made us feel like we were living together in a huge apartment — or maybe an insanely fancy dorm. We got ready all together, just like the old days, and headed to an amazing two-hour dinner. But we saved our energy for the main event: the club.
We knew this would be where we’d have to test our fortitude. Would it be awkward? Would we be the oldest ones there? How long would we actually manage to stay? Wouldn’t we all end up in bed by midnight as usual? Faced by these pressing questions, we got our drinks and were among the first people to step out onto the dance floor. (The phrase “nothing to lose” seems applicable here.) But within 10 minutes, the entire club had joined us.
“Did we just start the party?” one of my friends asked. The answer was definitely yes.
We continued drinking and dancing until we couldn’t feel our feet anymore. (I’m not kidding; my toes still hurt as I write this, one week later.) The Atlantic City scene brings a mixed crowd, and although we were definitely in the older category, we felt completely comfortable. Men of all different ages wanted to get into our dance circle, but we only gave way to the two nicest guys in the venue — a 25-year-old whom I told to “find a really great girl to match [his] wonderful personality” (I know, such a mom), and a 32-year-old married man who kept asking if he could get us some water. Why yes, thank you.
That night, our collective mindset was definitely different than that of the girls we used to be — the girls in our #TBT group text pictures. We no longer felt the pressure our 20-something selves constantly felt; we weren’t looking to meet anyone, drink our faces off or act like we were invincible. We’d done all that in the past. Instead, we were there to have a good time — plain and simple. There was something about no longer being able to do this every weekend (or hardly any weekend) that made us truly appreciate every moment. That night, we partied like rock stars, and it felt really good — almost necessary — to forget about the weight of responsibility we took on when we became parents. We all ended up surprised by how late we stayed out and how hard we danced. Nearly everything had changed in our lives since we went out on the town 10 years ago, but one (very important) thing remained the same: our friendship.
So while I can’t write off the “donation” I made at the roulette table early Sunday morning, I’m definitely writing off those U.K. survey results as a bunch of garbage, however scientific. Don’t let yourself be defined by what you think someone your age is supposed to do. Getting out of your comfort zone, building relationships and making memories isn’t just what young adulthood is about; it’s what life is about.