Tuesday, April 1, 2008

I don't think the answer is "bachelorette party."

Months and months ago, I shared my frustration with finding the right clothes to wear on the rare occasions when my daily uniform of jeans/sweatpants, casual shirts, and running shoes is not appropriate. I also shared my intense frustration with my husband's sense that wardrobe decisions are simple and his refusal to accept that there is no female equivalent to "khakis and a golf shirt."

Now, in the same vein, I ask: What is the female equivalent to the bachelor party? My hubby spend last Thursday evening through Sunday in Las Vegas for a bachelor party. I was not, and have never been, at all concerned about my hubby's behavior on such trips. Unless I am sorely mistaken about him and his friends (most of whom are friends of mine as well), I think very few of their weekend activities fall in the category of what "stays in Vegas." My husband lost some money, but fortunately, I doubt his deficit will keep us from paying our mortgage this month. He probably spent way more than I do on a big grocery store trip for a steak dinner, but hey, the bub and I lived it up as well: a playdate with lunch out on Friday, Potbelly sandwiches for lunch on Saturday (with chips), Burger King for dinner, and a snack at the Target Cafe on Sunday morning, NTB. I know he watched basketball. So did bub and I. (The bub said "Go Muskies" all weekend but his luck ran out on Saturday.) I'm sure my husband drank his fair share of beer, wine, and "daddy juice" (i.e., scotch). Six months pregnant, I rediscovered root beer and indulged in a root beer float on Saturday evening. Again, NTB.

The bub was really quite good all weekend (with the exception of his giving some extra exuberant/aggressive hugs to the other kids at Gymboree class on Saturday morning), but even with good behavior, I was at my breaking point by Sunday. No matter how much you love your toddler, multiple days of uninterrupted time together can be difficult when there's no one to spell you for bathtime, bedtime, or my now most-dreaded activity, getting-dressed time. And yes, I was only able to take one shower from Friday to Sunday, but the bub didn't seem to mind. When my husband arrived home, he took over all bub-duty cheerfully, and I began to unwind. He also obligingly shared the events of the weekend. He was extra patient as I asked him to recount topics of conversation covered with each friend he talked with. I stopped short of asking him what he ate at each meal (surprising, because most work days, I request an account of his lunch), but I think he would have played along. After all, he gamely offered the plot summary of the airplane film, August Rush, though it was admittedly patchy since he only half-watched it without earphones. Still, he tried, and I was thankful.

I don't begrudge him the weekend away. I am glad that he got to spend time with good friends and to celebrate with our friend who will be married this summer. I don't really care that he ate far better than I did. I'm not angry about any money spent. What I envy is just the time away. Sleeping past 7:00 a.m. Enjoying meals at one's leisure and without having to prepare them. No chicken nuggets with multiple dipping sauce needs to negotiate. Conversation with friends. No Blue's Clues or Barney for 48 hours or so. Going to the bathroom alone. No car seat buckling. More time to read novels. You get the picture. It all sounds like heaven, and I know if I had the opportunity to spend the weekend away with friends, my husband would more than encourage me to be there.

I think I am just trying to figure out when and if that will ever happen. It's not that I lack friends (NTB), but honestly, I have rarely taken a trip with girlfriends since college ended. In my first years out of college, I took plenty of weekend trips (mostly to Chicago) to see girlfriends. And once, a high school friend and I flew to Mobile to see another of our friends. One other time, some girlfriends and I went to New York City (which ended up being a good trip as it was the first time I spent any time with my now-husband--this was way back in '99). I spent two wild weekends with colleagues at the National Council of Teachers of English conventions in Detroit and Nashville, respectively. In 2004 (pre-bub), I spent one night in Indianapolis with girlfriends for a 30th birthday celebration. I think that about sums it up. No wine-tasting tours with a group of women. No spa weekends. No trips to the Biltmore for me. No bonding ropes courses. Nothing. And now that I have the bub--love him though I do--I could use a girls' weekend more than ever.

But, here's the rub. Many of my friends also have children. Thus, you can begin trying to plan something, but then you start saying, "Well, so and so is pregnant and so and so is still breast-feeding, and so and so has three kids now and may not be able to find someone to look after them, and etc." Then, there's the thought of packing (see first paragraph) and the preparations necessary to leave one's child/ren. I am personally kicking myself that I didn't at least try to organize some kind of trip this past year when it would have been fairly easy to leave the bub with the hub. Now, with childbirth and more breastfeeding on the near horizon, I am feeling like a girls' weekend may be literally years away for me. I feel sad and cheated.

I think what I can do in the meantime is to be more proactive about getting together with friends for less-involved activities: dinners out, cooking classes, afternoon tea, or what-have-you. Once weekend trips are a logistical (and lactation-friendly) option again, I need to plan them.

My initial motivation in titling this post as I did was simply my certainty that I do not desire a weekend away that involves drinking out of a plastic penis straw or watching someone I love ask a stranger for his boxers for some sort of scavenger hunt. Now, I think the title has extra significance. I want it to be the case that women do not need an excuse or social custom--an upcoming wedding, a birthday, a shower, a gathering of English teachers (though all these kinds of events are well and good)--to get away and enjoy some good food, fun, relaxation, and conversation. My husband kept joking about his trip to Vegas in advance, saying he was going there for "an obligation." One of my friends pressed him, "A bachelor party?" "An obligation," he joked. Jokes aside, I think too many women (or at least myself and some others I know) don't really think they deserve good times that aren't socially sanctioned by something like obligation or custom. And that's crap. So, meet me in Napa in about five years. And, until then, let's pick a night and go out to dinner.


E... said...

As someone who has heard at least ten times in the last two weeks that my husband's weekend trip to Florida next week is "work" and "a meeting" (but also involves fishing and golf), I'm right there with you.
And, ah, on your list of girls' trips, you left out the infamous European vacation! If NTB had existed back then, oh, what a post it would have been. I'm in for Napa, or dinner, or anything. But let's also plan a return trip "across the pond" that does NOT involve backpacks, hostels (or the naked German women in the bathroom there), or long layovers in airports. I never did get to see Paris, so...

MEP said...

E--I thought about the European "vacation" as I fell asleep last night. We saw a lot and had some fun, but given the budget constraints and the unbearable weight of my backpack, it wasn't exactly relaxing! Plus, being single and childless, we likely did not appreciate the experience as we should have.

I'll go back to Paris or anywhere in Europe as long as nice (i.e., not hostels, no shared bathrooms) hotels are part of the equation. We'll have to keep reminding each other!

Actchy said...

MEP, when you are able to negotiate a weekend getaway with your girlfriends, be it next month or in 5 years, I hope to be on the short-list. I am recalling with a smile the two "dawg" weekends, which were in Chicago and thus less of a weekend "away" for you, but rather just a big night out. I count them as much-needed at the time gatherings of girlfriends, though. What ever happened to that tradition?

I totally agree in the intrinsic value of a girls' trip, and feel frustrated with some folks' take on it. I know many, many men who do a regular, non-bachelor-party fishing/camping/Vegas/golf weekend with their buddies. However, last year when I went to London with two girlfriends, many people did a bit of eyebrow-raising, especially to my husband, who whole-heartedly supported the trip: "your wife is going to EUROPE? without you?" Double standarditis, methinks.

LAP said...

Spot on, MEP. I have taken two short trips by myself post-children. Both were delightful, yet I was refreshed and ready to come home by the end. One of those trips was to visit PITA in NY last summer. She was concerned about providing me exciting entertainment, but I tried to express that the mere fact that I had such complete freedom was vacation enough. It was tons of fun though, pita.

MEP, I say it's not too late for you. You still have a month or two of travel time. If you don't pull anything together, though, I plan to be Chicago (childless) for our Vancouver cousin's bridal shower in May (though I shouldn't need an event, right?) so make sure T-baby is on duty.

MEP said...

LAP, perhaps you're right and I should get something planned soon . . . there's just the matter of that dissertation to write.

Actchy, I have excellent memories of "Who Let the Dawgs Out" Parts I and II. However, since the dawgs gathered in Chicago, it was fun for me but not a get-a-way. You are for sure on my short-list for any trips.

T-Baby said...

This topic was actually discussed at the bachelor party. The consensus being that guys would love for their wives to take a girls trip but there are real differences that prevent it from happening. I don't think it is productive or wise for me to list those differences.

Anonymous said...

You are on to something. I have some great memories of Girls trips. New York, probably will forever top the charts. I will admit it is so easy once there are no little ones. I was not smart enough to realize how important and fun it would have been to do a girls weekend in the midst of childrearing. Grandparents are always happy to help.

msp said...

lucky for me, my college roommates and i have been pretty consistent about doing a reunion weekend once a year--we've probably done it 9 of the past 11 years (please tell me i'm not old enough to have been reunion-ing that long)--they are random (going to a ski resort though none of us ski, etc) and hilarious and restful and i am always so completely grateful. and the hubby, though exhausted and ready to turn over the kids as i walk in the door, is grateful for the one-on-one time with them as well. also, my sisters and i had what we like to call "the best weekend of our lives" in south beach a few years ago without our husbands/children. (highly recommend this to sisters everywhere). so, that being said, i'm thinking the bhs girls are LONG overdue for a weekend of sorts. yes, the whole pregnant/breastfeeding thing seems to be a current obstacle, but even starting to think about locations sounds like fun to me... i'm more than in.

khinkel said...

MEP-I sent this to all the gals here who know you and who relate well to what you are talking about. We're inspired and in talks to plan an outing or two that has absolutely nothing to do with any aforementioned obligation. Thanks for writing this--keep up the good work!!

I'm also passing along a link to enjoy, that is along the same vein. http://www.theordinarymatters.com/

Anonymous said...

How funny is that NCTE was my weekend getaway 9 years running--that is, until I had a kid.

When you figure out the answer to the all-important question of the female bachelor party, post away. I'm ready.


Anonymous said...

MEP I totally agree with you. We need to get something on the books. I would love to just hang out and be away for awhile. Thanks for writing about such a topic. It hit home when you said going to the bathroom by yourself or no car seats!!

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