What It Feels Like to Go Out at Night, Now That I’m a Mom

You’ve seen Dawn of the Dead, or 28 Days Later, or Night of the Living—you get the idea. Well, that’s what it feels like to go out at night, now that I’m a mom.

At first, I leave the house and I’m like, Whaaaa? It’s dark out here? And I take a moment to bask in the glow of the moonlight and the fact that I’m not slathering sunblock on two wriggly, pale terrorists. With a little concentration, I shut off my “mom brain” and cajole “Old Me” out of the depths of my psyche. Because it’s not like I’m someone different, now that I’m a mom. I’m still my same old sarcastic, adorable self … I’m just a crazy, rundown Beta version that has less energy, more quirks, and a condescending tone that I can’t just turn off at a moments notice.


I do my best to take a deep breath and focus, eventually managing to channel my pre-children self. I think, Hey, I’m out on the town! I’m free! I’m like Zooey Deschanel in “The New Girl,” ready to raise my arms with glee or kick up my heels, but then it hits me. Something feels … off. The people walking down the street—what’s up with them? At first I can’t quite put my finger on it, like spotting the subtle twitch and lifeless stare of a newly-turned zombie. The further down the block I walk, though, that’s when it starts to make sense.

For one, there are no obstacles. Entire sidewalks are clear of single and double strollers, scooters, and bikes. In fact, there’s so much space, I could do a cartwheel if I were wearing my gym clothes. Which reminds me, no one in sight is wearing workout gear. Where are all the moms shaming me with their skinny leggings and jogging strollers, on their way to knock out a quick 10K before running home to puree organic hummus for the kids?

This lack of spandex and wheeled contraptions fills me with both relief and emptiness. I’m addled by the void of whining and crying and screaming … although, at the same time I somehow manage to get past it because I know I’m Cinderella and this freedom is only going to last until midnight (midnight—hah! More like 10).

I take a deep breath, reveling in my freedom again, and then immediately begin to cough. Cigarette smoke? Really? It occurs to me that I haven’t seen anyone smoke since my daughter was born, six years ago. Okay, that’s a blatant lie—but the truth is, not as many people smoke during the day. At least not in my neighborhood. Where I live, the streets are largely filled with moms and nannies and children. Generally speaking, we are not a huge market for Marlboros.

After that, I begin to hustle toward the restaurant where I’m meeting my gal-pals, dodging lit-cigarettes like bullets and limboing under a fog of smoke. Through the haze, the other thing I notice is that everyone looks fabulous. During the day, it’s business suits, ripped jeans, and yoga pants. Considering I work from home, maybe I should add sweatpants and slippers to that list. But at night (and I’m out on a Friday night—woot!) people get fancy. Velvet minis to my left, pointy-toe heels to my right … and suddenly I’m looking down at the skinniest jeans I could fit into and my 5-year-old Marc Jacobs top and my morale fizzles. I know what I look like. I look like a mom.

Hang in there, I tell myself. The fact is, yeah, my shirt is out of date and there might actually be cream cheese on my jeans from when I hugged my toddler goodbye, but I’m out of the house, goddamn it. It’s Friday night, I’m on my way to meet some of my best friends, and if we can manage to incorporate 10 solid minutes of conversation that has nothing to do with our children, I’ll mark this night down as a success.

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