Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Mom's day out

In the pilot episode of thirtysomething, best friends Ellyn and Hope attempt to meet for lunch, just like the old days. It is an allegory for the 80s, designed to keep each of us feeling bad about the so-called "choices," we have allegedly made, and to pit us resentfully against the Other -- the woman who made the choice you didn't make. Shame on us and our ambitions. And our choker-pins.

You lived in dread of that first lunch with your parented friends, and you gulped your wine as eagerly as Ellyn does. I had a group of younger friends who referred to people has having "crossed-over," which meant "domesticated," even if the children had not yet come along.

But look at Hope's face. Domesticity does have a corral around it. They wouldn't give it up for the world. You wouldn't ask them too. But once in a while, single people, give your Moms a day out. You'll both be glad you did.
I have (2) scheduled this Saturday.

step 1
Get an idea. It does not have to be anything spectacular. Just do the work for her.

Moms like....
....places they can't take the kids. This can be the China Fair, or it can be a haircut. A restaurant without crayons.
.... errands without tears. BJs and Target, yes, but also the cat to the vet and a Craigslist pickup.
.... shopping, though this comes with a twist. Take her as consultant on your purchase. She'll never go to shop for herself, and this way, you'll talk her into something eventually.
.... quiet places. Museums, parks, gardens. There's a reason they turn into church ladies by the time the kids are teenagers -- just for 5 minutes of silence.
... brunch.

Moms don't like...
...to try to pay attention to you during karate class. You'll swear on your own mother's life that the lacrosse sidelines are just fine, and you'll bring the thermos of coffee, but it actually stresses them out worrying about whether you are having a good time. They know if that were not their own kid out there looking at dandelions, this is not how they would spend their Saturday morning. (They think we are sacrificing wearing yellow raincoats and swinging hatboxes down Newbury St. Don't ruin it for them.)

Step 2
Initiate. This is not as hard as you think; you just have to fully initiate. Offer a date and a time, an event and a plan. "We should get together some time" is why you haven't. Have you ever seen a mother's calendar? Be the one thing she doesn't have to organize. You will have to navigate that complex calendar. So remember our rules on Portability.

Step 3
Offer to drive. If you have eyes in the front AND back of your head, being able to rest them is a big deal.

Step 4

Now know this about me. I do sit on sidelines (I pack my own chair), I do try to learn my Jonas Brothers, I carry a crayon in my purse, and I always bring a toy. This is also appreciated, especially by mothers outnumbered by their children, but much less so than a chardonnay and an hour of no one calling their name.


  1. Love this! So true!
    So...um... where are we going? heehee

  2. Bottom line is "Don't Make it WORK to hang out."

    And you, my friend, are never work. Nice to know about the sidelines... I'll need someone to snark with. Also Liam has asked when HIS friend Robin is coming over again.

    It'll soon be warm and you can shase Shea at the park while I sip a "special coffee" on a bench.

    Well done! Now where can I pick up some of those drink boxes...didn't see those at BJs...

  3. Another suggestion, if you're up to it, is to offer to give both parents a night out together and be their 'surrogate.' Or even a night away from everything!! M.

  4. did you ever see the arrested development episode where buster thought that a box of wine was a huge juice box? so he plunged a big straw in and went to town. the narrator said that it was buster's first taste of wine since nursing....
    i think a game night at someone else's house with lots of drinks is a great night out for friends with kids. most of us need adult conversation, and board games/cards can help you from getting back on to the topic of the kids.

  5. You can tell I'm doing some catch-up reading here... Not too late to post a comment, I hope. I only have to say: YES! CHINA FAIR! I haven't been there in almost a decade, yet I still think about it regularly --is it still there? Do they still carry those Arabia plates? If I were near a China Fair I could find exactly what I'm looking for, the thing I can't find here.... etc. China Fair is a fantasy place, more a polished memory than reality, like an ex-lover to whom I can't return...


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