London - Many moons have passed since the days I used to wake up bleary-eyed, half-expecting to find a Maori tattoo across my forehead and a live tiger in my room.
Riotous nights out that end in chaos like a scene from the film The Hangover are a thing of the past for me, now that I am an ancient working mother-of-four. My carefree, and frankly immature, lust-for-life has sensibly run for the hills.
But on Friday morning last week, as I surveyed the pile of tangled clothes in a heap at the end of the bed and the contents of my handbag sprawled across the floor, I did momentarily wonder if perhaps I was in Ibiza on a club 18-30 holiday.
Still, on the upside, at least the room had stopped spinning by this point.
How has this happened again, I wailed (quietly, obviously, as my head hurt)? Every time I agree to “drinks with mom friends” I wake up the next day feeling as if I have gone on a stag-do organised by Charlie Sheen.
One minute it’s 7pm, the littlest ones are in bed and I’m unfurling a tiny sleepy infant’s finger from mine, kissing it goodnight and heading off innocently into the night for “drinks with mom friends”.
The next minute I am waking up more dehydrated than one of baby Mabel’s raisins, with a hangover of epic proportions. This doesn’t happen when I go out with colleagues, or with women who don’t have children - those rare evenings are less manic and more moderate.
But “drinks with mom friends” always go awry.
Mom friends, those you make through school, nursery or kids’ monkey music classes, are like American teenagers on spring break when they meet up.
It’s so rare to a) go out b) see each other minus children, that we approach the night with the unadulterated joy of a toddler racing towards the pick ‘n’ mix sweetie stand.
We down a mixture of wine, beer, spirits (not all at the same time, I’m not Sue Ellen from Dallas), aware we’ve only got limited time to tell each other everything.
We don’t care about the venue or the food, we just need to get it all off our chests - what ever it is, because I can never remember anything that happens during “drinks with mom friends”.
Before you know it, we’re in what a friend of mine calls a “hot mess”. I put this down to being over-tired, thanks to years of parenting and a significant drop in our tolerance to alcohol due to lack of retox opportunities caused by repeated pregnancies. One friend of mine, a sensible mom of one by day, fell into a hedge while walking home one evening from “drinks with mom friends”. Oh, the shame.
Sometimes I think it would be better to adopt the BYOB custom they have in some San Francisco bars - “bring your own baby” - then perhaps we’d have a more grown-up approach.
And maybe I wouldn’t be so delicate the next day that I have to lie down in a dark room if a bottle of wine is opened three doors down the road.
Mr Candy always accuses me of being “a lightweight”, he says “drinks with dad friends” are simple affairs. Women, he says, can’t do anything in moderation. I ignore him, obviously.
The problem isn’t just the evening and the following morning, it’s the three-day after-effects. It takes me so long to recover, I wonder if being teetotal would be easier.
Then I would never have to play Monopoly repeatedly with a five-year-old when hungover - because everything you do with children is made more difficult with a selfish hangover isn’t it?
Repeated rounds of Snap I find exhausting at the best of times, but it’s positively gruelling with a fuzzy head and tired eyes.
“You need some silent yoghurt,” my five-year-old son informed me on Friday night when I told him I was very tired and would probably go to bed at the same time as him.
I think he means frozen yoghurt because, well, all yoghurt is silent.
I’d collected him and his sister from school early that day as they had what the school nurse informed me was “slapped cheek syndrome” a flu-type virus that made them very red in the face.
When I arrived, suffering the effects of “drinks with mom friends’”the night before, my eight-year-old took one look at me and said: “Oh look, you’ve got slapped cheek syndrome too, mommy.” - Daily Mail