Feel the fear

Today’s newspaper was already on the mat when I arrived home last night, or rather this morning, just after 3am. I felt a surge of The Fear when I saw it there, reminiscent of the feeling I used to get fifteen years ago, arriving home from impromptu Wednesday beers and realising that there weren’t a whole lot of hours left before Thursday was well and truly up and running.

But the fear of going into work after a night out was minor compared to the fear of being in charge of children under similar circumstances. Early morning children. A night-waking toddler. These thoughts filled my head as I stepped over the newspaper. Perhaps this had all been a big mistake.

The night out was planned a month ago – one mum from the school suggested it, and I was one of the flurry of “Yes” responses that quickly followed. We’d had a few Thursday nights out, and had agreed that it was time to branch out into Friday – safe from the looming spectre of work or the school-run or both.

And these days, agreeing to nights out isn’t the big deal that it used to be. My husband and I are no longer first-time-parents. We no longer have two under two or three under five. I’m not in newly-back-to-work hibernation mode. We’re proper grown-up parents now, who can take nights out in our stride. Except for the non-sleeping toddler. But the night out was a month away – surely he’d be sleeping by February.

Only he wasn’t. He paid no attention to the open letter I wrote begging him to sleep. He insists on coming into our bed every night and flailing around for an hour before finally going to sleep. So as the night out drew closer, the fear factor increased.

I hatched a plan with my husband. I’d sleep on the couch, and he’d take the toddler into the bed. To aid with the initial bed-time struggle, we’d tell the child that I was going to work – not because I think lying to children is a good idea, I don’t, but because he doesn’t know what “night out” means, but does know that “at work” translates to “mum isn’t here right now but will be back”. And he’s too young to question what kind of job would have mummy working at 3am on a Saturday morning. The final part of my plan was that I’d have two, or at most, three glasses of wine with dinner, and come home at midnight, glass slippers intact.


The first part of the plan to fail was the wine; the waiter thwarted me by topping up my glass frequently and I couldn’t keep track. I may take some blame here too. But it was one of those nights – you know the kind. All but five of the class were there (I mean the mothers, not the six-year-olds) and everyone was in the mood for a Big Night Out. Hair was being well and truly let down. Conversation was flowing, wine was flowing; food was something we did in between.

It wasn't quite this many (image: freefoto.com)
It wasn’t quite this many (image: freefoto.com)

Suddenly it was midnight, and I was ordering a cappuccino while agreeing that we definitely needed two more bottles of each wine.

At 2.45am, we realised that we were the only people left in the restaurant (well, realised that the table beside us were not actually customers – they were patient staff waiting for us to stop talking for long enough to check our watches)

And so it ended with stepping over tomorrow’s newspaper today, so to speak.

At 3.30am, I was lying on the couch, wide awake, waiting for sounds of toddler. Wine and fear coursing through my veins in equal measure. Regretting the midnight cappuccino. Regretting the last glass of wine (though I had been drinking water like a woman possessed since 1am)

Eventually I dropped off, in spite of my contorted position on the couch, and at 5.30am, the toddler decided it was time to wake the house. I lay listening to him for what seemed like three weeks, while his dad went in and out trying to settle him in his cot, and then in our room. Sleeping on the couch was largely pointless at that stage, but I stuck it out. Finally there was silence and finally I fell asleep (caffeine still doing it’s thing) until the toddler and four-year-old got up at 7am. And came down to me, to hug me and chat to me and ask for breakfast. Seven hours out in a restaurant followed by three and half hours sleep – there’s an inherent problem with that equation.

Was it worth? Oh yes it was worth it. Seven hours with a group of smart, wise, funny women, who found they had much more in common than six-year-old daughters – it was definitely worth it. Nights out aren’t as frequent as they were fifteen years ago, but now it’s about quality over quantity (that might go for the wine too)

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12 thoughts on “Feel the fear”

  1. I have had oh so many of such nights over the years. Their memory is still a nightmare. Some of the worst ones were when my friend and I went away on holiday with the kids to a friends empty house in a v v quiet west Cork village. We are still known there after all these years.

    1. Oh Tric I’d love to have seen you there – I can only imagine! You might have to let me know at some stage the name of the village in case I know anyone there 😉

  2. So glad you had a good night & extremely impressed that you’ve managed to write about it so soon 🙂 hopefully the toddler will let you catch up on sleep tonight…..

    1. oh thank you Jo, yes it would be amazing to get sleep tonight. I should really go to bed now and start trying to do that….

    2. Thanks Jo – I think I wrote about it so soon to get it out of my system 😉
      As it turns out, the toddler had no sympathy for me at all, but I live in hope….

  3. You’ve hit the nail on the head, it’s definitely sometimes worth it to forget what’s waiting the next morning and just live in the moment. This happens with my girls sometimes even though we are all mums of young children, those nights we forget are the best ones. Hope you got to catch up on sleep this weekend.
    laura @ dairyfreekids recently posted…Dairy Free CarbonaraMy Profile

  4. Waited a good 5 plus years before begin brave enough to try a proper, grown up night out, complete with actual wine. So unbelievably worth it – the few hours of laughing and chatting (and maybe some dancing) gave all the mammies a lift that lasted for days. In fact, so much so, we did it again. twice. The fear is horrendous but honestly, every now and then a night of laughing and dancing in good company is absolutely essential. Glad you enjoyed x
    sunnyscattered recently posted…Wire woolMy Profile

    1. I agree – I think it comes down to feeling you’ve “earned” the night out. Back when nights out were very, very regular, I never felt I necessarily “deserved” a particular night out, so I felt guilty if I wasn’t on top form the next day. But now, being out with friends every now and then, having a brilliant time doing not very mammy-ish things feels great. I usually spend the next day feeling slightly crappy physically but delighted with myself at the same time.

  5. Glad you had a good night…they are always worth it but totally understand ‘the fear’…..I usually try convince hubby to take the kids off in the morning somewhere…a few hrs sleep makes all the difference x

    1. That’s a good idea. Once they’re in the house, there’s very little chance of sleep. My husband is often just out for the count himself, unaware that three kids are clambering over a groggy mum!

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