How clubbing prepared me for motherhood

Ten years ago, when I still had energy and could stay up past midnight, I used to sometimes regularly frequent nightclubs/bars/pubs. I’m not going to lie; it was seriously a lot of fun! In fact, it was so fun that I could often go out two or three nights a week. I know I sound like an alcoholic, but honestly I wasn’t. There were plenty of nights that I was the designated driver and the voice of reason among the group. But, there were also plenty of nights where I paid for it the next day.

Fast forward to ten years later and I have the sweetest little baby girl. Motherhood took me by surprise. My pregnancy was unplanned and I don’t think I had realistic expectations of what to expect. I read the books, I joined mama-to-be groups on facebook and I talked to my friends who had kids. It all helped and now as my daughter approaches her first birthday, I started reflecting on life situations that have prepared me for motherhood. I kind of hate admitting it, but for real, clubbing prepared me more than anything else.

Late nights. When you get ready for a night out on the town, you know that you are going to be out late. Midnight is still considered early for most clubbers. Chances are, by the time you get home and managed to get undressed, brush your teeth and climb into bed, it’s getting pretty close to 4am. This is not much different from the schedule of a baby. Baby goes to bed at 8pm. This is when I would have started drinking. Baby wakes for first feeding at midnight. This is when I would have ventured to the first club. Baby wakes for feeding around 4am. This is when I would have stumbled home. Baby wakes up for the day at 7am. This is when I would have gotten up to get a glass of water and two Advil. Very similar schedules. The only big difference is that hungover-me would have had the luxury of a greasy hangover breakfast after a few hours of sleep. Mama-me barely has time to shove a burnt bagel down her throat most mornings.

Loud noises.  Clubs are loud. The music can be deafening and you practically have to scream to hear your friends speak. Once I ended up screaming during the pause between two songs “I think I just started my period.” Good thing there was plenty of alcohol on hand to live down that embarrassment. Having a baby is not that different. Babies yell, scream and cry. My daughter is at an age where she likes to make random sounds. She enjoys screaming directly in my face and then laughing hysterically when it startles me. Also, when she wakes up through the night, her cries aren’t the kind that start softly and gradually get louder. No no, she starts with immediate high-pitched wails. I could say this is kind of like clubbing except that my daughter actually stops crying once she is fed. The noise at the clubs continues all night long and well into your walk/cab ride home as you still feel partially deafened and continue to speak at an obnoxiously loud volume.

The nakedness.  It’s summer time. I see no problem with my daughter toddling about in a diaper. She just recently figured out how to undo the tabs, so quite often she is walking around stark naked. As long as she doesn’t pee or poop on the floor I really don’t care! However, grown women at clubs need to cover themselves a bit better. Look, I really don’t care if you want to show your assets. If you have a great rack, flaunt it. Legs for days? Work that short skirt, lady. But if you can’t bend over without exposing your hoo-ha, well then my friend, you need to rethink your choice of clothing. Babies for the win in this category.

The vomit. I knew when I was pregnant I would get spit up and puked on. I just had no idea that it would happen SO much! There is not a day that goes by where I don’t smell my clothes to make sure I don’t smell like sour milk. More often than not, I probably do, but my give-a-fuck levels are pretty low. Clubs prepared me for this. People are constantly vomiting at clubs. In the bathroom, outside waiting for cabs, in their own bathroom afterwards. Clubbing taught me that vomit is okay and that people really won’t judge you for puking, as long as you keep your puke to yourself. So maybe with that in mind I really should give a fuck about the pukey smells? Or is it the physical puke itself that is the problem? I’m confused. I need wine to clarify this dilemma.

Feeling like death.  I used to be kind of stupid and would stay out till 4am and then be up and at work for 9am. I’d be dying with a hangover, barely able to function and could hardly makes it through the day. When I could finally go home I’d collapse in exhaustion. Well, this is what the first few weeks of motherhood can be like. You’re exhausted all the time. I remember during the first week I was so tired that my ears were ringing and it hurt to keep my eyes open. I didn’t know what day it was half of the time and I would collapse in a heap of exhaustion when my daughter finally went to bed each night. It has definitely gotten a lot better and easier since then, but I am actually grateful to have had those hungover work days. Why? Because they taught me that no matter how shitty you are feeling, the day will eventually end and tomorrow has the potential to be better.

There are days when I wonder how I ever found the energy to go out three times a week? Between working full-time and being a single mom, I’m lucky if I can stay awake to watch a movie most evenings.  I don’t miss those days at all. I’m over it. Even though a lot of things have stayed the same (the puke, late nights etc.) the prize that I get to wake up to every day (my daughter) is a million times better!

 

Please, don’t pity me

As a single mother, I often hear a lot of comments about how hard it must be and how I must be super woman. Honestly, it can be really hard and there are days when I just want to break down and cry. But I don’t, because I am strong and determined and refuse to give up just because something is challenging. One comment I heard recently was “Oh my God, I’m so sorry! How do you do it?” I was a bit speechless when it was said and managed to mutter something like “um thanks, yeah it’s tough.” And I kicked myself for it after, because what I really wanted to say was “How do I do what exactly? Raise my child? Probably the same way you raise yours, just minus the having a significant other part.” That comment made me realize that I really don’t want pity from people, because I truly don’t need it.  What I really need is support, love and friendship.

People often make the assumption that single mothers made a string of bad life choices and that they could have prevented the situation. The truth is; I am not a single mother because of my choices. I am a single mother because of someone else’s choices or lack thereof. I have made pretty solid life choices and have an education I’m proud of, a job I love and a family who stands by me through thick and thin. Single mom’s have been breaking the stereotypes for years. In fact, there shouldn’t even be a stereotype anymore because single mom’s come from all walks of life and are represented in every group on this earth.

A family friend of an older generation said to me a few months ago “You poor thing without a man, no one to support you financially.” Again, more unnecessary pity. Everything I have in my life, I earned completely solo. All 100% me. In fact, I’ve never lived with a man. Supporting myself on my own is all I’ve known my whole adult life. Adding a child to the mix means that I had to make some financial adjustments but I didn’t need a man to get through financially in the past and I don’t need one to get through my present and future.

Raising a child alone can be a struggle, but it is also a way to come up with fun, exciting and creative solutions for everyday living. It means there is a lot of juggling, prioritizing and brainstorming, but those are skills that I am proud to have and things I hope my daughter learns from me. I am setting an example for her; showing her that we can do anything we set our mind and heart on, and that we can rise after we fall.

If you know a single mother, don’t give her your pity. I can guarantee she does not want it. Instead, offer her words of encouragement. Tell her she’s doing an awesome job. Let her know that she is setting a great example. Let her express her worries and fears to you. You don’t always need to have an answer or a solution, just an open mind and an open heart. She’ll appreciate that you listened and gave her a chance to get some things off her chest. If you’re really close friends with her, offer to babysit. Give her the freedom to see a movie, get a manicure, go for a walk or just take a nap. Your gift of free time will be one of the best presents she will ever receive from you.

Someone whom I don’t know very well asked me a ton of questions about my situation and said “well honey, you were given lemons but you sure did make lemonade.” No lady, I didn’t make lemonade. I built the stand, bought the cups, promoted the hell out of the business and became the lemonade empire. This single motherhood thing? I’m rocking it!

Dear Future Husband

I’ve been hearing this super catchy song on the radio a lot lately, it’s by Meghan Trainor and she is basically talking to her future husband and telling him all of the things he should do to keep her happy. The song is cute and catchy but I don’t think she is being honest enough. She says that she wants flowers and a ring and that he should apologize after every fight. Yeah, that’s nice enough but let’s be real girlfriend; most women don’t give a shit about flowers and a ring! Those things are nice but here’s what I want from my future husband:

Don’t expect me to cook every single meal.  I can cook a meal, and I don’t mind doing it. In fact, there are times when I enjoy it. But mama needs a break now and then. Order a pizza, bring home Chinese food, or attempt something you saw on the Food Network. Just give me a break a few nights a week! And please, don’t make me ask for it. If I have to ask you screwed up and now you owe me both dinner and a massage.

Please be able to work the washer and dryer. Let’s make a deal okay? We can take turns doing laundry. That way, we each get a break from it. Here’s the thing though; you really need to know when to presoak, when to separate and when things should and should not go in the dryer. If you mess this up and turn my favorite cream-colored sweater pink because you forgot to separate the whites from the brights, then the deal is off. And you will owe me dinner, a massage and probably a replacement sweater with matching accessories.

Please be able to see dirt. I used to date this guy in university who had beer goggles for dirt. For real, his apartment was so scuzzy and he couldn’t see the grime. I actually dreaded taking my shoes off at his place. If the floor needs to be swept, sweep it. If the dishwasher needs to be emptied, don’t wait for me to do. If you clean the bathroom there’s a 97.64% chance you’ll get laid that night.

Try to remember important dates. You don’t need to remember the anniversary of the first time we kissed or the first time we went to the movies, because I won’t remember that shit either. But you should be able to remember my birthday, our anniversary and if I have children with you; their birthday’s and mother’s day. I don’t need extravagant gifts. Give me a card, a bottle of wine and 60 uninterrupted minutes in the tub and you have succeeded.

Keep the fridge stocked with wine and chocolate. When I am PMSing, there best be something sweet for me to indulge in or I might get super irritable, and by irritable I mean bitchy.  I get the biggest chocolate cravings ever when it’s that time of the month.  Chocolate keeps me happy, wine keeps me sane. Always have those two items at the top of the grocery list.

Oh, and if I end up pregnant …well I get a little cray cray when I’m pregnant. I will crave weird things like reuben sandwiches and fortune cookies at the same time (true story!) and I will cry at commercials and reruns of Friends. I’ll also probably complain a lot about my back aching, my feet swelling or getting fat. My advice is; be prepared to make late night trips to the grocery store and always have a lot of Kleenex on hand for my tears. Also, offer to give me back and foot rubs, and no matter how much I complain about gaining weight, tell me it’s hardly noticeable. Even if it looks like I’ve swallowed a watermelon on steroids.

So, future husband, if you are reading this, I hope I made myself clear. I’m not a total diva and I don’t think my expectations are super high. If you can do all of the things on this list I will be a very happy wife. If you go above and beyond this list, I can guarantee that I will go above and beyond for you as well. Oh, also future husband, I do have the most amazing daughter ever. She will probably have higher expectations than I do, but she’s a total gem and a package deal if you want anything to do with me.

I don’t know if my list could be turned into a revised version of Meghan Trainor’s song. Actually maybe we should just leave her song alone. She can take the guy who buys her flowers and a ring. I’d much rather a man who can cook and clean and remember my birthday. Besides, flowers are the most overrated gift ever. They die and end up in the garbage a week after you get them. Just keep the fridge stocked with chocolate and wine, future husband. I promise I will give you bedroom brownie points every time you do!

Letting go

I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror a few days ago. I mean, I really stopped and looked.

I didn’t recognize myself.

I used to be a full hair, full make-up kind of gal. Hair curled or straightened every day, freshly painted nails and makeup applied with precision-like accuracy. I even did my hair and make-up before I went to the gym. Yeah, I was that girl.

Some people who haven’t seen me in a while might look at me now and say that I let myself go. But you know what? I don’t care.

I don’t care that I forgot to shave my legs in the shower this morning, or that there are two visible pimples on my chin. I don’t care that my eyelashes aren’t curled and my hair isn’t teased. I don’t care that my last pedicure was four months ago or that my hair is super overdue for highlights.

My daughter isn’t going to remember if I had on eyeliner or if I had the latest lip gloss from Sephora. She isn’t going to remember if I had painted nails or glamorous hairstyles. She isn’t going to remember if I straightened my hair or even washed it that day.

What she will remember, is did I give her my all? Did I take her to the park and play with her on the swings? Did I get down on the floor with her and line up the dolls in her dollhouse. Did I colour with her, paint with her, draw with her, make messes with her? Was I there? Was I present?

Being a single mom means that my life is crazy. I work full time and when I’m not working I want to spend every second possible with my daughter. Maybe it’s because I feel guilty that she doesn’t have two parents present in her life every day. Or maybe it’s because that’s how I remember my mom. My mom spent every minute she possibly could with her children. And that’s all I remember. I don’t remember if she wore make-up or styled her hair, but she was always beautiful in my eyes.

There’s nothing wrong with still taking time for yourself when you’re a mom. You don’t need to fully change who you are or stop doing the things you love. There are days when I can still find the time to style my hair, paint my nails or wear mascara.  But some days, I can’t find the time for those things.  I see it not so much as ‘letting myself go’ but just ‘letting go.’  I’m letting go because I don’t have a lot of free time and I’ve realized that what little free time I have, I’d much rather spend it with my child. I may not recognize myself anymore, but maybe that’s because I’m becoming someone new. Someone different.

I like this new me. She may not be the most stylish person you’ll ever meet, and she might not have brushed her hair that day. This new me might not always have a lot of time for herself, but she’ll always have time for her daughter. And that’s what counts.

Your bladder after pregnancy

If you have a child then there is a good chance that your bladder is pretty messed up. I thought I peed a lot while I was pregnant, but little did I know that was just the beginning. I peed about 15 times a day during my last trimester. Around week 36 of my pregnancy I was super naïve and thought ‘I can’t wait for my baby to be here so I can go back to a normal pee schedule.’ Well that was stupid of me, because 15 times a day is my new normal, along with a bunch of other things that are also my new normal. Want to hear a little more about how messed up your bladder might be after pregnancy? Read below to learn the horrors!

You’ll always need to pee. I can pee on command now. For real, I can sit on the toilet at any given time during the day and pee will come out. It’s really handy for when you go to the doctor’s office and they need a urine sample. But it really sucks because sometimes you think you are done peeing and then you wipe and realize that you can actually squeeze out some more. And you repeat this process 4 times.

You can barely tolerate a glass of water. I like to stay hydrated, water is my friend. It keeps my hair and skin looking decent. When I drink a glass of water, I have a ten minute safety window. Meaning that, I can go for a ten minute car ride or quickly pick out a bottle of wine at the liquor store. After ten minutes, I’m screwed. Having the urge to pee is something I can tolerate, but feeling like my bladder is about to burst is the reaction I usually get ten minutes after drinking a glass of water. After twenty minutes it starts to hurt and if I haven’t gotten to relieve myself by the thirty minute mark, I’m in crisis mode. I have it on good authority that the ten minute safety window gets smaller as you get older. I’m really looking forward to reaching the five minute safety window…or not.

Sneezing and coughing are terrifying public acts. If I have to sneeze or cough in public, I get really freaked out. Basically, I do everything in my power to hold in a sneeze or suppress my cough. Sometimes though, the urge to sneeze or cough will not go away. I try to do it in such a delicate manner, to make it happen as softly as possible. Then I quickly find the nearest public bathroom and check to see if I leaked. And for real, sometimes I do. Embarrassing? Not as much as I would have thought. I think I’ve gotten used to minor leaks, which is even more disturbing than the leaks themselves.

Exercise produces both sweat and pee. You know after a good workout when you’re all sweaty and you go to grab a shower? You start to undress and your workout clothes are sticking to you because of the sweat? Well post-baby, you have no idea if it’s sweat or pee. You start to question your workout. ‘How many jumping jacks did I do?’.. ‘Should I start modifying those burpees?’.. ‘Maybe I should stop exercising and take up drinking wine instead?’ Actually wait, wine is not going to help with your bladder problems either. You just can’t win!

I’m sure that not every mother has experienced all of these problems, but I am willing to bet every mother has experienced at least one of these problems.  I don’t think my bladder will ever go back to normal; whatever that is! But in the grand scheme of things, it’s really not that bad. I’m actually pretty used to it. Now please excuse me while I go drink a glass of wine water and then promptly pee it out 10 minutes later!