I don't go out very often when I have the kids, and when I do, the babysitter comes over after the kids are in bed and they don't even know I was out and back again.
Only a few times a year do I get a sitter to come over when they are awake and actually put them to bed. It's mostly guilt - I only see them five days a week, not seven. They have two whole nights every week of no Mama. The fact that those nights they are with Daddy and not a random sitter should be a mitigating factor, but it's not. The fact that I do not work outside the home should also reduce my guilt, because they are no longer going to after school care. Five days of 24 hour Mama should count. But it doesn't.
I hated when my parents went out. I hated babysitters. I totally and completely relate to my kids in this. But I am relating to them from a place of childhood memory, with an immature gaze, not with the adult perspective I have gained in my forty plus years.
When I do go out when they are still awake, there's a lot of drama. The minute I tell them about my plans there are tears, lots of tears, complete with heart-broken faces mourning the loss of Mama. By the time I actually leave the house I have yelled at least once about how I only go out a few times a year and I am entitled to attend grown up events every now and then without them giving me a lot of crap. Of course I don't really say crap.
By the time I leave, I'm so frazzled and irritated I've often lost the desire to go anywhere. When you are paying a sitter by the hour to go out, it starts to feel like you need a large amount of fun to justify the trauma and the expense, and paying a sitter does not guarantee fun.
So last night we went out. and all those things happened: the tears, the guilt, the irritation. But because I don't go out that often, I had forgotten something even more important.
I came home to children that were asleep without me having to forcing the planets into alignment to make it happen, as I normally do. I woke up to a quiet house and a happy heart.
"Does anyone want turkey bacon?" I asked, surprising myself. I cannot remember the last time I made the kids turkey bacon for breakfast. I don't eat it and it's messy and more work than toast or cereal, but they love it. I also gave them candy for no reason what so ever.
Wait, could going out at night have given me more patience with the kids, and even made me enjoy them more? And those kids that need Mama, Mama, only Mama? There are blissfully ignoring me, eating bacon and watching TV. Happy Mama might actually make happy kids.
Is there an added benefit to going out, that lasts longer than the break while I'm gone? Who knew? Apparently I should go out more often and feel less guilty.
(Also, we won a trophy.)