I’m going out with the girls on Saturday. We haven’t been out for months, and the last time we did it was a civilised affair with cars and a distinct absence of wine. This time though, we’re out on the town. New dresses have been bought (what, this old thing?!) and I hear that Z has already started her beautification. I won’t be far behind her, with a home manicure planned for this evening after Daughter has gone to bed, Husband has gone for his weekly cerebral challenge at the pub quiz with Father, and all is quiet.
I think any thirty-something working mother will agree that sometimes a night out can be more effort than it might seem worth. Our night out was planned by strategic facebook discussion and put down on the calendar (pen, not pencil). By our standards, it was fairly easy, and essential that we all get together now to sort out the biggie – the Christmas Night Out. Husbands have all been instructed they will be staying in, or baby sitters booked. Bribery chocolate has been bought – ‘I know you don’t want Mummy to go out, but look! Chocolate orange segments! And yes, of course you can have a new game on my Kindle. No, you can’t have Happy Poo Jump.’ – and travel plans are being devised (to the city centre 10 miles away, hardly need the use routeplanner). Shoes have been tried on, curling tongs dug out. But it made me think of another life, when nights out just happened.
The weekend used to start on Thursday. ‘Just for a drink’ usually turned into going to the local nightclub. A nightclub! On a Thursday! And quite often we’d do it on a fiver. A load of us would pile into L’s ancient estate and off we’d go. That car was as good as a limousine to us, rolling us up to the door of every club around. Then it would be Friday, and of course we’d be out that bit later with no work to go to the next day. And then Saturday! Pub and club again. No arrangements were ever really made outside of our small circle, everyone just knew where the rest of the crowd would be. Sunday was recovery day, sleeping until after midday. A fortifying roast dinner later, and it would be back out for an intended quiet one. There was always someone to go out with, always something to wear and always money in our purses. There was no negotiating of dates, no staring at wardrobes that had nothing suitable in them (despite dramatic cries of ‘I’ve got nothing to wear!’) and always just enough for that last round.
How times have changed. But one thing has stayed the same. Nights out with your best girlfriends are like a battery charge. We’re all mothers of young children, wives, workers, chief cook and bottle washers, and our Saturday daytime events will include children’s parties, the supermarket run, work, several ‘don’t go Mummy!’s and probably all manner of unglamorous tasks that our younger selves would never have ever thought about. The mirror will reveal creases that didn’t used to be there and maybe even the odd grey hair. But after that first glass of wine, and when all the child/husband/work/parents/fortnightly bin collection moans are drowned in the second glass, onlookers won’t see an exhausted group of women in their thirties and forties. They’ll see a group of friends who might as well be 22 again, because they’re having just as much fun as they did then. If only L’s estate was still on the road..!