Now, almost four years later, our weekends look a little different. Friday night pizza with the kid, Saturday morning cartoons with the kid, birthday party, birthday party, birthday party...with the kid.
This weekend we attended three preschoolers' birthday parties. Well, that's not quite accurate; one is today at 5pm, so we have yet to attend, but believe me, we will be there.
My child officially has more friends, and a more hopping social life than I do. True, I do get to socialize with other parents while at these balloon-laden cake-fests, and it is true that some of the parents I get to socialize with ARE the people I would otherwise be attending happy hours or dinner parties with. But the point of the matter is, Ethan is the one getting the invitations. If life were the Love Boat? He would be Julie, our cruise director.
Birthday party #1 was on Saturday morning, in a house high atop one of the Santa Cruz mountains. I managed to get my friend Kym to drive us up the winding, death-defying road in her car because when I trekked up it in early December, it shaved years off of my life. I enjoyed the drive much more as a passenger. Apparently I'm not as concerned about plummeting to my death off the side of a mountain if someone else is the one doing the driving.
Birthday party #1 featured a magician, who made several comments that seemed to imply that he, too, had been terrified for his life while driving to the party. But you know what? The view is pretty much worth taking your life in your hands. Ethan and I ate our cake on the back porch, looking down on a sea of fir trees, a veritable ocean of Christmas trees, rolling over the hills like a giant green blanket.
Birthday party #2 was Sunday afternoon. Husband, in desperate need of a haircut and fairly persnickety about who cuts his hair, was unable to join us for the top of the mountain party on Saturday (as his "stylist" Carlos was only available at noon on Saturday). So he was given primary responsibility over Ethan's well-being at party #2, which was held at a My Gym. Ethan and I had been members at My Gym in Los Angeles, so when we walked through the door, Ethan went bounding in as if being reunited with an old friend. And since Husband was there to keep a watchful eye (read: the Flip recorder) on Ethan, I was free to
sit on my fat ass relax and chat with some friends.
Birthday party #3 is this evening. At Chuck E. Cheese. Hold me. When I was in college, my boyfriend was in a band. His bass player was a manager at Chuck E. Cheese. I heard a lot of stories. I vowed never to walk into one, let alone let my child, love of my life, light of my heart, flesh of my flesh and all that stuff, play amongst the filth that is Chuck E. Disease.
But you know what? Eh. When you become a parent, if you don't ease up a little bit, you are destined to be "that mom". Sorry, my kid can't come to your kid's birthday party because we don't allow Chuck E. Cheese? Ohdeargod, I cannot be THAT mom (my apologies for offending you, dear reader, if you are that mom; nothing personal.)
I'm actually kind of looking forward to it--Chuck E Cheese seems to be this mythical right of passage for kids and terrified parents alike. The storied unsanitary conditions that make the McDonald's Play Place seem like a Club Med (which is probably pretty teeming with bacteria, too, let's face it), the giant rodent mascot, the games which give tickets which give prizes which are almost invariably choking hazards? All of this Chuck E Cheese lore lives in the collective consciousness of parents and tonight will be our initiation. Which means I should probably stock up on OJ and Childrens' Motrin and search the house for our Cars DVD, because I'm guessing Ethan will be home sick on Thursday or Friday....
So fine. Our social lives revolve around the social life of a 3.5 year old. Yeah, I am acutely aware of how different that is from how it was just a few years ago. And there are absolutely days when I lament the fact that it has been years since I sat at a table, next to Husband and across from friends, enjoying a glass of wine and a good meal (read: not greasy pizza, which is delicious, mind you, but not so much a "good meal"), nary a child in sight or in mind. I'd be lying if I said I didn't ever miss those days, that freedom. Sometimes I miss it like a lost limb.
But also? Watching Ethan throw his head back in laughter when Magic Dan pulled a bottle of ketchup out of his hat? Or seeing the mixture of terror and glee on his face when he flies down the zip line? Or, perhaps even having him cower behind me when that giant ass rodent Chuck E himself bounds out amongst the kids tonight? I wouldn't, under any circumstances, no way, no how, trade that for the world