Friday, 19 July 2013 09:37

Venturing Into a Different World: Mom’s Night Out

By Kate Towne Sherwin | Families Today

The first thing you should know about me in regards to leaving the house is that I rarely go anywhere that isn’t related to or understanding of my role as Mom. Most of my time away from home is spent at school, the grocery store, the pediatrician’s office and church.

I usually have some or all of the kids with me at these places, so I never worry about whether or not my shirt is stained or my pants are wrinkled or I’m holding my belly in well enough, because I figure people will understand. My main goal appearance-wise is to have clean hair and an age- and body-appropriate outfit. The fact that I don’t feel out of place at my regular haunts looking as I do tells me that I’m probably not the only mom of little ones who feels the same way.

I recently did a rare thing, though: I ventured into non-mom territory for an evening, taking myself out to a poetry and fiction reading at Skidmore. I left the house at 7:30 in order to have my pick of seats for the 8 p.m. reading, thus missing the entire bedtime routine. My husband, good man that he is, didn’t even blink when I asked if he would mind if I went.

The second thing about me in regards to leaving the house is that I hate the long, drawn-out process that actually getting out of the house usually involves. Every time the kids and I go anywhere, I first have to make sure everyone has gone to the potty or had a diaper change. Then, I need to be sure everyone is wearing appropriate outfits and footwear. Then I need to check hands and faces to be sure there aren’t smears of peanut butter and runny noses that need to be cleaned up. Then I need to find my wallet and keys. Then I need to decide whether or not I need to bring sippy cups, Cheerios, diapers, and wipes. If I decide I do need to, then I need to find the cups and fill them, fill a bag of Cheerios, grab the diapers, and find the wipes. All this while trying to be sure that no one ruins whatever clean-up I might have done of his person, or takes off his shoes and loses them, or whips his brothers into frenzies of shrieks and tears by keeping his hand on the front door’s doorknob, which always sets everything back several minutes.

It probably makes sense to you, then, that when I can just hop out the door, easy peasy, with no hold-ups or hang-ups or hesitations, I do so with relish. And so I did that night I went to the reading at Skidmore. I made sure everyone was set—the boys were eating dinner, their pajamas were laid out, my husband had everything under control. I assessed my appearance—clean hair and age- and body-appropriate outfit, all set. I grabbed my bag—wallet and keys already inside. Out the door I went.

I got to Skidmore 15 minutes early, got a great seat, and was able to people-watch until the program started. 

For 15 minutes, I had a chance to realize how out of place I felt.

First off, everyone there was either 18-ish and totally confident in their skins as young people are, fresh and summery in shorts and flowy skirts; or much older than me, in pressed capris and low heels and combed hair who I could imagine sipping wine afterward with the authors themselves.

No one seemed, like me, to be constantly adjusting their shirts to hide their maternal bellies. No one else had smears of chocolate on their shirt which, if scrutinized, would be discovered to be the shape of a baby’s mouth. I was embarrassed that someone might get a peek of my bag’s insides, with its couple extra diapers, sandwich bag of Cheerios, crumpled up tissues and baby toys.

I was even uncomfortably aware of the request to turn off all cell phones and the quiet shuffle of people complying. I did not, though. I turned off the sound so that if I did receive a call, the phone—which I held in my hand with the screen visible to me the whole time I was there—would light up rather than ring or beep or vibrate. How could I turn it off, when the last thing I always say to anyone as I leave the house is, “I have the phone with me in case you need to get ahold of me”?

Or maybe that’s all they meant: silence your phones, rather than turn them off completely? It was so strange, the way the whole evening sort of felt like I was a tourist who didn’t know the language or customs or how the locals dress. I really think I would have been able to enjoy myself more if I’d just spent a little time getting ready, mentally and physically. Just because I hate the long, drawn-out, leaving-the-house process doesn’t mean it’s not important.

So here’s my plan for the next time I’m out and about without the kids, at a non-mom location or event: Paint my toenails. Put on a shaper. Make sure my shirt is clean. Wash my face. A little makeup couldn’t hurt. Clean out my bag, or use a different one that isn’t full of baby things. These details feel familiar, now that I think about it—they’re all things that, 10 years ago, I’d never have gone out of the house without doing. Maybe I’ll even wear those shoes I can’t wear when I’m carrying the little ones around. 

(But I’m still not turning off my cell phone.)

Kate Towne Sherwin is a stay-at-home mom (SAHM) living in Saratoga Springs with her husband and their sons Thomas (8), Gabriel (6), John Dominic (5), Xavier (3), and Thaddeus (18 months). She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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