You gain many things when you become a mum, but you lose some things too. For many of us, one of these things is confidence.
Confidence to do all sorts of things……like lunchtime networking at a work conference (AGGGGHHHHHH….. I hate it).
Like meeting new people, and trying to find an interesting version of yourself that has actual things to talk about. Things which aren’t related to children.
Like going out. I don’t mean going out to the pub or going out to eat….. I can do both of these things pretty well. But going out somewhere that is full of people and music and dancing. You know…..going OUT.
I used to do it a lot, because that’s what you do in your teens and twenties; but these days…..well no, I don’t. Because I like sitting down, and wearing comfortable clothes, and being able to hear what people are saying to me. So until last Saturday night, I probably hadn’t been out out for about 5 years.
5 whole years.
But on Saturday I did it. With a group of lovely ladies….most of whom I had never met before. The thought of it made me oh-so-nervous, but I did it.
Should you find yourself in a similar situation, here are a few tips to help you along:
What to wear:
If, like me, your clothes fall broadly into the following categories: 1) mum clothes 2) work clothes 3) wedding outfits; then you might feel you need to buy something new to wear. You probably don’t have time to go to the actual shops, but don’t worry…..the supermarket is a perfectly acceptable place to locate your new outfit. It is altogether less daunting than Top Shop, and you can pick up some tinned tomatoes and a loaf of bread at the same time.
If you’re wondering about suitable footwear, let me recommend wedges. I love a heel, but these days the combination of wearing heels plus staying up way past my bedtime is not a good one. I found wedges to be an excellent compromise – more likely than heels to get you through a whole night without crippling your feet, but you feel less like you’re on the school run than you might do wearing flats.
As you look around, you may feel surprised at the number of very young people that appear to be out very late at night. Seriously, they look like children. And then you remember that many of these youngsters could quite feasibly be 20 years younger than you. This is alarming……try not to show it.
If you want to seek out people who are at a similar life-stage to you, look for the cross-body bag. Nothing says proper-grown-up-on-a-night-out like a cross-body bag.
You probably won’t recognise a large number of the songs, and you may feel mildly shocked at some of the language that is blasting out of the speakers. Do your best not to show your shock, and remember that your children aren’t present so you don’t need to cover anyone’s ears.
A wave of relief will sweep over you when you hear songs from 15 or 20 years ago. In your mind these songs are, and will always be, current.
Keeping going when it is VERY LATE:
Let’s face it, at the time you are venturing out (in our case, 11pm on Saturday night…..11PM!) you would probably usually be tucked up in bed. Keeping going when you have felt tired since the day you became a mum can be a challenge, and at regular intervals you will wonder whether you can keep your eyes open any longer…… 12.30am, 1am, 2am, and definitely by 3am.
When you are hit by the I’m-not-sure-I-can-stand-up-any-longer feeling, just think about all the things you have done and possibly still do that have been so much more challenging than this. Think of the night feeds and the nappy changes. Think of rocking a crying baby and wondering whether you’ll ever be able to sleep again. Think of changing wet sheets in the middle of the night; or of lying on the floor next to your baby hoping that you might, within the next hour, be able to creep back to your own bed again. Think about all the caring and cuddling and feeding and cleaning and changing that you have done at 12.30am, at 1am, at 2am and at 3am.
Think of all the 5am starts.
Think of all of that, and then you’ll realise that this – standing up in your wedges wearing your new Sainsbury’s dress – perhaps isn’t so difficult after all.