Or maybe that should read "When the party stops temporarily for a good few years..."
We've all had that time in our lives where we partied... explored... drank... danced... went buck wild. But that time eventually comes to an end. Things change.
I love a good drink and pretending i am Beyoncé on the dance floor like anybody else... but those nights feel like a distant memory these days. As a gay man i have never really been on the scene. I met my now husband at 17 through friends at college and we partied a bit, but by 19 i was buying my first flat and just wasn't into the clubbing life. It wasn't for me.
I asked my best friend what she thinks. She is starting to think about children. She lives and works in London, is out most weekends and absorbing all the wonderful culture that she can. I love that! I miss that. But priorities certainly change when you have your kids. She told me that it should never be seen as a bad thing to be heading out, loving life and catering to YOU when it is just you that you need to look after. She is under no illusions that once she has her first child, that lifestyle will change. And i think that's a really healthy attitude. If you know how much things will change (even though i believe you'll never truly know til it happens to you no matter how many times your friends tell you!) then when things do change you're that much more prepared to fully embrace that wonderful, new baby, stay at home and snuggly feeling.
When it comes to adoption I think having this attitude is what helped us in our journey. Having worked in adoption for two years i actually met some prospective adopters who were a little resistant to stop smoking or that liked to go out a lot still... I think social workers want to see prospective mums and dads as ready as they can be.
I know a few older gay men who are still on the scene. And good for them, they are showing us all that age is nothing but a number and it's all about how you feel. However, what i know from my own personal friendships is that these guys just want to settle down, fall in love and ultimately meet 'the one'. But it's not happening... When i was younger it was the pubs and clubs and that was it. Now it's all about the apps and social media and it's quicker and easier to get laid. Maybe not the best foundation for a relationship?
For most of us, going out was just a matter of hoping to meet someone. And when you do meet someone you no longer have that need to head out and hope to pull (be honest, we ALL wanted to pull even if we were saying "Oh i just want a drink and to dance!"). Once settled you might start having more nights in and eventually thinking about kids. That paternal/maternal feeling can kick in. It's no longer about the over priced cocktails and feeling like absolute shit the next day. Seriously, i have had a couple of hangovers in two years of being a dad. Potentially the worst days of my life.
And don't feel bad about giving into that feeling. Surrendering your old party self to the shelf for a little while. It's no biggy! You can hang up your party pants for another day... although you may not fit into them when you're 45. Don't get me wrong, i still believe in the odd night out for sure. We all, as parents, need that break. But no way could i go hard like i used to... #adultheadache.
You'll be swapping the crazy nights out for planning very different parties... your baby's first birthday or a soft play party for all the kids at nursery. And you wouldn't have it any other way. I have planned two birthdays for my son, and it's quite stressful. Guest lists, entertainment, food, drink, the cake, the decorations, the fancy dress. There is quite a lot to consider. So in comparison, picking out which new shirt to wear out for cocktails versus planning a toddlers party, the first choice is certainly much easier. But is it more rewarding? I don't think i have ever been prouder than celebrating my sons birthdays, singing him happy birthday with all his family and friends present, blowing out the candles and being told "MORE!!" (as he just loves to blow out the candles!).
I am in no way saying this life is for everyone. If you're 50 and love heading out and getting on it at the weekends, i applaud you! You have more energy than i'll ever have! But i think i have secretly always been a bit of an old man in the sense of a 'night in' being the new 'night out'. Maybe when my son is old enough to look after himself my husband and i might get a second wind? I know a few older parents who are out more than i ever was. When the kids fly the nest i can imagine it must feel very liberating to head out on your own accord not having to worry about babysitters and night time routines... Hmm, that day will come. But for now, i am happy in my sweats getting through every boxset Netflix has to offer while my little boy sleeps soundly upstairs.