Saturday, December 15, 2012

Mothers' Nights Out

After I wrote this post, it worried me. Then I re-read it and decided it's awful as I sound like such a smug, spoiled person. I thought about deleting it but after all I thought it at the time (at least for 20 minutes, which is how long I usually spend writing posts), so I will leave it here anyway. Sorry if it annoyed you! It annoys me too, now.

It's commonly accepted that parents don't get to go out at night. This is such a cliche that it's a staple of TV comedies and it seems like most Americans accept it as a commonplace: you have kids, and thus have no adult social life (barring occasional date nights if you are lucky enough to have a reliable babysitter or family close by).

This is totally not true for me. I go out all the time with my friends. Looking back at the last month, I went out at least once a week (and often more): dinners, cooking class, drinks, book clubs...If anything, I go out more now than I did before R was born (because I want the mental break more after baby wrangling all day long; plus we have more money now so I don't have to be as conscious of my recreational spending). And in this I am typical for expats here (obviously, since I'm not going out by myself); in fact, I go out less than  average. 

Partly this is probably a function of the special childcare situation here: most people never have to worry about finding a babysitter (since they have a full-time, live-in maid) and are thus free to go out every single evening if they feel like it. But after all I have no maid, so I don't think that's really the full explanation. 

For me it's incredibly simple. R always takes a bath with B directly after dinner, he changes her into pajamas,  I read her 1-3 books and then lights out and into her crib. The bath can take quite a while (it's their bonding time so they play all sorts of games in there) but everything else is about 10 minutes, so anyone could do it (let alone highly capable B). When she was younger and still nursing as part of the bedtime routine, it was more complicated (I had to pump and leave supplies: what a hassle; plus she disliked this and would cry a lot), but that was really only for the first year. After that, though she was still nursing, she could have cows' milk as necessary.

So all that's seemingly required for an active social life as a mother is an agreeable husband. (I know some people lack this--single mothers, for instance--but that doesn't explain the near-universal cliche of parents staying at home all the time). Why don't all mothers go out? Even if your husband works late or travels, it's the rare person who isn't home at least half the time. 

Maybe it's just a cultural expectation: Americans expect both parents to stay at home and give up virtually all their adult social lives, while expats (most of whom here aren't American) don't? Maybe B is just a really indulgent husband? If I go out more than twice in a week he gets a bit grumbly, but otherwise doesn't mind, even when I come home drunk at 1 am (this happened once, don't worry!).

I feel like I'm missing something.


  1. Well, I don't think I represent the rest of the population, but for me it's more that I just don't have any friends close enough to go out with. Most of my co-workers/friends live 30-60 minutes away from us (one problem with commuting so far to work. And I haven't made close friends in our immediate neighborhood (though I have a mommy group, but we only get together maybe once a month). It's partly my personality too- after working all day the last thing I want to do is go out (though it does sound fun on occasion).

    1. Oh that's true: I forget how big the US is after being here for so long. Singapore is tiny (so a 20 minute drive is considered REALLY far and will take you halfway across the country).

  2. i dont have much to do to go out and the person i would want to go out with, my husband, would be stuck at home. before i got pg i went out a bunch but now that im pg i havent gone out to do a single thing. i blame the fact that most of our friends here are not in the same boat (therefore would rather go out drinking) and that im not living close to my friends (we have a couple here but most of our friends are 2-3 hours away or further). I agree that parents would have nights out but it doesnt work out :/