I was 23 when I got married. 6 months later I was pregnant. I was the first in my group of friends to have a baby so I got to discover things by trial and error.
Being a 24 year old, single without children is COMPLETELY different than being married with a baby, there is absolutely nothing wrong with either lives, but they are each their own lifestyle. I'm still friends with the same people, but the dynamics have changed. When my son was first born and I was starting to leave the house I could carry him around in my carrier and he could sleep while I/we was hanging out with our friends. Sure occasionally I would need to stop and do the mom thing, but when he was first born, it didn't matter all that much. The older my son got the harder it became to hang out with my friends with my son around, not because my friends are child hating a-holes, but because different behaviors are appropriate for different ages.
I try not to be one of those parents who shields their children from the world, but I do try to introduce things to him at an age he can process whether or not it's something new for him to try or if it's strictly for older people. Take alcohol for example. I will not have more than one alcoholic beverage around my son, and I tell him that he can't touch it because it's "Adult Soda" and will make him really sick. Sometimes he gets curious about my sugar rims so I've let him dip his fingers into the sugar packet, but he knows not to touch anything that comes in a beer bottle, different shaped cocktail glasses (or even solo cup).
Anywho, for the majority of the past 4 years I have usually either had to get a sitter or play Rock, Paper, Scissors with my ex to decide who gets to go out with our friends and have some adult time. Every invitation I get I ask "Is it a kid friendly event?" and base my attendance on that. Since my ex is still off on his adventure right now my options are either get a sitter or stay in. OR IS IT?? ;)
This weekend one of my friends had a pool party that I was originally going to be hours late for and just catch the tail end of it and take my son home for bedtime. I had something better happen instead. My son got to play to the point of exhaustion, pass out on the couch and I got to stay to the end of the party (much later than I'm admitting to strange eyes sorry) and there was no pressure to "Keep my Kid in Check" or any sort of discomfort of him being around. The next day I had to stop by a house that is by definition a Bachelor Pad with my son and again, he wasn't just tolerated, instead he was welcomed and I wasn't made to feel like a pariah.
I don't know if it's because he's older, or if we're all getting older, or maybe a combination of both, but this weekend was the first time I didn't feel like the Child-less population was waiting for my apology for bringing my son into their part of the world.
It was nice.
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