No matter how things change, some things stay the same. I’m not going to prognosticate about 2014, but I am going to get just a little nostalgic, or at least acknowledge how far we’ve come.
Beth and I got invited out for New Year’s Eve. It’s been years, and I mean like 12 or more years since we’ve gone OUT for New Year’s Eve. I use the number 12 because we’ve been parents for 11 ½ years, and I don’t remember going out without the kids.
We usually stage our own celebration for 9:00 p.m., so the kids can get the feel for staying up “really late” and toast Welch’s sparkling grape juice in crystal wine glasses before going to bed. I know; we’re wild.
This year was different. We had been invited to go with friends to go and listen to a live band, which was playing at a casino, and then spend the night in a hotel – like grownups!
We were excited, to say the least.
But like I said above, some things have changed since the last time we were out after midnight:
For starters, we had to jump through the usual D-Day Level Planning to get everything to work. There was the arranging of the “patch babysitter.” The patch babysitter is the one who shows up at 3:00 when I get out of work, and stays until the “overnight babysitter” can get there around 5:00. Child 3 was spending the night at a friend’s, and was picked up by said friend’s Mom just before 3:00. Child 2 was also spending the night at a friend’s (though a different friend), and would need to be dropped off by the overnight sitter at 6:00. Child 1 was staying home with the overnight sitter. Since the overnight sitter doesn’t usually spend the night, there was the laundry list of things like:
1. when to feed the dogs
2. how much to feed the dogs
3. directions to Child 2’s friend’s house
4. when to pick up Child 2 in the morning
5. where we keep the food/plates/pots/pans
6. when Child 1 goes to bed, when he gets up, what he eats, which toothbrush is his
7. don’t smoke in my house, or I will find out and haunt you about it
This also meant we had to pack 4 suitcases. One for each traveling kid, and the two it takes us to spend the night anywhere. In this case, it was two and a garment bag.
When we were young, I remember just putting back on the same clothes I had worn the night before, whenever sleeping over. Not only that, since our group of party-goers is all in their mid-30s or thereabouts, there were a lot more pill bottles lined up at the sink than I remember being present in the old days.
Not only this, but we had a shared room. Not a big thing, but practical, seeing how we’d only be sleeping there a few hours anyway, and it’d save $$. Sharing a room with someone on New Year’s Eve would have been unheard of in my early 20s.
Beth bought a special dress, and I wore my favorite pinstriped suit. I’m not going to lie, we looked good. I think the last time we went out it was strictly jeans and sneakers. Apparently, we’ve grown up at least a little.
It’s also been a while since I’ve even SEEN midnight. I’m willing to bet I hadn’t gotten up at 5:30 the morning before the last time, either. In fact, I’m guessing that the last time I was up and out of the house at midnight, I hadn’t SEEN 5:30 in an awfully long time. Sadly, my body’s now conditioned to pop awake at or before 6:00 every day, even if I’ve been up until 2:00 a.m. It has also proven to take considerably longer to recover from 4 hours of sleep or less. I don’t remember getting four hours in a row for the first 6 or 7 years of marriage, but wow – I’ve come to depend on it now.
Because of the subzero temperatures that night and the fact that we didn’t want to freeze our wives’ bare legs in a car that had been sitting in a concrete parking garage for 6-8 hours, we called a cab to transport us from our hotel to the venue and back again. There must be signs of maturity in there somewhere. Either that or we’re getting old.
I had set $100 aside for gambling. My father has always said that you shouldn’t gamble with money you need. “If you’re not just as happy ripping up your money and throwing it away, you shouldn’t bet with it,” he’d say. In my early 20s, I’d have relied on my $100 for the evening, and now it was my “fun money.” There are some benefits to being an adult, after all.
Even though the band was laying down some funky tracks, and I was making a little profit at the casino, and I was dancing and smiling and having a great time, I was also missing my kids and hoping they were doing OK. I guess that comes with age, too. I don’t remember worrying about anyone but ourselves that last time Beth and I were out for New Year’s.
So I guess at the end of the day (or the end of the night, depending on your definition), the lesson I’ve learned is this:
Thirty five is better than twenty two in that if affords some maturity, some cash, and the ability to handle responsibility with grace. Twenty two is better at handling four hours of sleep. I think I’m happy where I am, and wouldn’t go back for the world.
Happy New Year!