A Baby in a Bar? Not Always a Bad Thing
Before I had Ellie, I was VERY social. No, that is not code for anything. I was just always out and about.
After work drinks? I was there.
Birthday drinks at a bar? You got it.
Sunday brunch with friends? Hell yes!
And even after I found out I was pregnant, I would still go out frequently, and enjoy the company of my peers – without the drinks of course. But that couldn’t last forever.
I remember being about 7 months pregnant, walking by a bar on my way home from work. It was a warm Friday night and the watering holes were packed with happy hour-ers, smiling and clinging glasses.
And I began to cry.
I was heading home to put my feet up – alone. The whole idea of not being able to maintain my social life was suffocating and very depressing. After all, who would want to hang out with me if I had a baby in tow?
Well, I am happy to report that 18 months into motherhood – things aren’t nearly as lonely as I though they would be. Yes, there is the occasional evening that I am really lonely, and I am forced to hang out with my friends Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte. But for the most part, I’ve found the antidote to lonely, single motherhood is accommodating friends. And in the past year and a half I have figured out there are some places that it is always okay to bring children, some places that it is sometimes okay, and some places you shouldn’t even try it.
- Friends’ houses are always a green light if the invite has been extended to your child, especially if they have dogs or kids of their own, which usually translates to an acceptance of bodily functions that some others don’t embrace in the same way.
- Church is a safe place in my book. Most religions preach acceptance, and there is no better way to show your acceptance than to allow a little one to enjoy the hymns and look around at all of the new faces.
- The great outdoors, is, well, great. I find the fewer the walls confining a child, the better the social experience, which is why the park is a fabulous place to meet up with friends – especially if they are mom friends.
- If your dining companions are genuinely cool with bringing along baby – then I think you can safely enjoy a meal out on the town, BEFORE 630 pm. Yes, I know this throws you into the early bird special category, but if you wrap things up before 6:30pm you typically avoid the major dinner rush, and the patrons that are likely hoping for some food without a whine.
- I know there was that scene in Sweet Home Alabama where Reese Witherspoon’s character says, “Look at you. You have a baby…in a bar,” as if it one of the worst offenses ever. Well, in the movie about my life, you will see that it is fact, is totally okay to have a baby in a bar – if you approach it the right way.
Recently, a group of coworkers was heading out for an impromptu Friday happy hour. The weather was perfect and I was in the mood for some sangria, but there was no way I could afford to ask the sitter to stay late, and I was really missing my daughter. However, the thought of going home and being all alone (after putting Ellie to bed) brought tears to my eyes.
So, when everyone was trying to decide which bar to head to, I asked if we could choose a place that was also a restaurant, and had table seating. No one had a problem with it, so we headed out and grabbed a table, and I had Ellie meet me after work (transported by the sitter). Ellie got to hang out with my coworkers who showered her with attention, and I got to catch up with some peers before settling in to my apartment at 8pm. I was still bummed to be calling it a night so early, but those couple of hours certainly helped ease the feeling of isolation.
- Any event that starts after your child’s bedtime is clearly not kid-friendly. Perhaps not by design, but it just isn’t a good idea to bring them along. A close friend of mine had her engagement party a couple of weeks ago, and she told me I was more than welcome to bring my daughter. It was at a very nice bar, and it started at 7:30pm – which is when Ellie is just finishing up her milk cup. I declined her offer to bring mini-me, and I found some very kind friends to watch Ellie for a bit so I could show my face, and have enjoy some adult conversation.
In any of the situations above, I think the general key to success is being flexible and understanding that if your child is not feeling it, you may just have to call it quits early for everyone’s benefit. And also, if you can manage it, every once in a while, try to find some adult time out without the kids – it will help you through those less than amazing evenings at home alone.