There’s a picture doing the rounds on Facebook which instantly makes me laugh no matter how many times I see it.
The picture, a cartoon drawing, is of a woman in a bar, stripped to her bra and trousers, shouting with what only looks like unbridled joy that she wants to sing, and dance, and get a tattoo and drink shots from someone’s stomach.
Two people look on, a man and a woman and the man asks what is wrong with our joyful shouter. The woman replies, simply: “She’s a mother of three. She doesn’t get out much.”
Dear reader, I may only have two children but I understand that feeling so well. That joy - almost unrivalled - of getting a night away from your beloved offspring and (in my case anyway) trying to fit as much fun into those few precious hours of freedom as possible.
For mothers of particularly young children, the kind who follow you everywhere, even to the toilet and who are going through a particularly ‘fun’ stage of asking constant questions, this feeling is three-fold. (The average four year-old, the internet tells me, asks 437 questions a day. As the mother of a four year-old I’d consider that to be a rather conservative estimate).
And this weekend - dear reader - I’m getting a free pass. Myself and my older sister are off down the road to Dublin to see my idol Beyonce in concert.
I don’t know whether I’m more excited at the prospect of seeing Beyonce sing Crazy in Love or simply the prospect of approximately 30 hours free from my mammy duties and free to act with a degree of irresponsibility not usually like me.
I do feel guilty writing this, of course, because I do love my children immensely and of course it goes without saying that they bring me huge amounts of joy and happiness.
However, there are times when I look at my friends who either have no children or have children most older - and less dependant - than mine and feel almost insanely jealous of their freedom.
(I know, of course a time will come when I will long for my children to be eeny again - but right now I’m reaching a certain mammy responsibility saturation point).
It’s my firm belief that to be a good mother each mammy needs a time out every now and again - new age and all as it may sound, she needs time to reconnect with who she is.
And this weekend, who I am will involve a couple of sneaky drinks, singing at the top of my lungs, and sleeping all night (uninterrupted) in a hotel room without being assaulted by a) a child demanding a drink at 3 the morning b) the discovery of a Build a Bear (complete with annoying noises) at the bottom of the bed at 5 in the morning or C) A child who thinks it’s hilarious to wake you by pressing their face directly into yours and shouting at 6 in the morning.
The danger of course, in the whole situation, is that I’m so out of practice at doing things without a child attached to me that I will more than likely make a buck eejit of myself in the process (like the woman in the picture on Facebook).
Sadly my nights out just aren’t what they used to be. I’m not good at getting myself dolled up - my usual going out procedure these days involves trying to stop the four year-old smearing my make-up all over her face while she bounces on my bed and all over the outfit I’ve chosen to wear for the occasion.
Then it’s a matter of trying to find something, anything, which fits and which isn’t from pre 2004 (aka the pre-mammy years - when my outfits changed from slink and sultry going out tops to comfy, stretchy, easily washed), half drying my hair while the glass of wine I’ve poured to “get me in the party mood” warms on the sideboard and slipping my feet into uncomfortable shoes before battering out the door into a taxi.
A few hours (and a few glasses later) I’ll become obsessed by my age, my spare tyre and how I don’t know any of the songs playing in the club. I’ll fish in my bag for my phone or my purse and find a stray plastic toy from a McDonald’s Happy Meal or a picture of one of my children as an uber cute baby and will become soppy. I have been known, to my shame, to call my friends over from their revelry to make them coo at pictures of my brood and, thankfully they oblige.
As I’m of a certain age I make sure to leave before the end, so as not to have to queue long for a taxi, and get home where I will sit on the floor of my children’s rooms and hope they forgive me for going out.
Alternatively, I’ll take my foot off the responsibility peddle and drink too much, revelling in my freedom and telling everyone who will listen than I’m definitely going to do this more often and it’s time to remember who I am.
Either way, it doesn’t end well.
Perhaps this weekend will be the same - but even if it is, it will still be an experience I will treasure.
And perhaps I will treasure it all the more precisely because I know when I’m done I get to come home (hopefully rest a bit!) and then get on with the job of being a mammy again until the next time I get out.