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I have been running around with the kids all day, and I gave them chicken nuggets for dinner. My sink is overflowing with dishes, and I have a thousand things I should be doing this evening. Instead, I am waving goodbye to the kids while imploring my teens to get their little brother in bed by 9:00.

I am off to moms’ night out.

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Some of my mom friends on Facebook post glamorous pictures of themselves going out with friends, dressed up in cute dresses and drinking mixed drinks. More power to them! But our moms’ nights are a little more, uh, mundane.

The setting is always someone’s living room, or maybe their porch in the summer. We wear whatever we happen to be wearing, likely jeans or yoga pants (we are Millenials after all). Snacks are a must, but they range from fresh, homemade baked goods to whatever was on special at Aldi. When these nights started we didn’t even drink, mired as we all were in pregnancy and breastfeeding. Now someone often brings a bottle of wine, but it’s not necessary.

There is only one activity for moms’ night: talking. Lots and lots of talking.

We are there to share, to unload, to get feedback. And we talk long and late. Moms’ night starts at 8 p.m. to allow time to get little kids in bed and big kids home from activities. It’s now a long-running joke that the evening ends at 10; everyone knows we will be there until midnight.

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It is startling to think how long moms’ night has been going on—at least 13 years. Started by a tiny group of overwhelmed young moms, it has expanded to other core members while losing a few to out-of-state moves. There are some occasional attendees, who are always welcome when they join, but to the small group who comes regularly, it is our lifeline.

We have shared a lot of life together in those years, many happy as well as some very heavy times. We started with birth, lots and lots of it, and talked of birth stories, C-sections, breastfeeding, sleep schedules, and every other detail that is so vivid to first-time moms. Then it was playgroups and potty training and choices about schooling.

As our lives continued, there were unexpected challenges—some beautifully hard, like adoption, but also family tragedy, job loss, diagnoses, and divorce. We lost a member of our group to the ravages of cancer, and we carried food to the funeral reception and prayed together. The fabric of our lives is woven together tightly outside of those living rooms, and those of us who experienced some of those hard times know we could not have survived them without this community.

Now those of us with the oldest kids are discussing high school classes, driver’s permits, and even college applications. In the blink of an eye, it will be graduations, first jobs, and maybe even weddings.

We are experienced enough now to know how quickly time goes and how little control we really have.

One friend and I are already joking about what we will do when our kids are out of the house and we have time for hobbies and volunteering. But we’ll still be moms then, and our kids will still need us. I expect to still come to moms’ night and flop on the couch and declare, “You’ll never believe the day I had,” and know that these moms will be there to walk with me through it.

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Elizabeth Ascik

Elizabeth Ascik is a single mom of 4 living in Northern Virginia. When she gets time between kids and work, she loves to spend time with friends, plan parties, and read and discuss books. She has always wanted to be a writer.

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