peace and quiet

I Go To Bars Alone & I Don’t Tell Anyone

The best "me time" I've had lately has been an hour alone with a cocktail.

Originally Published: 
A mom looking for quiet time goes to a bar to be alone.
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I was sitting on a barstool when I caught a glimpse of Spider-Man underwear peeking out of my purse that was perched on the seat beside me. My 3-year-old was potty training, and I had stuck an extra pair of pants and underwear in my purse in case of accidents.

There were also a few diapers, a travel package of baby wipes, and a large red envelope containing my oldest son’s eyeglasses prescription, which I’d forgotten to remove after filling the prescription over the weekend.

I was having a blessed hour of “me time.” It’s my new, maybe somewhat unconventional trick. Forget trying to sneak into the bathroom to scroll Instagram to find some peace and quiet. Lately, when I need a break, I’ve been going to a bar, ordering a fancy cocktail and eating a snack in peace.

I’ll admit: It feels wrong. Moms shouldn’t go out drinking. On a school night. Alone.

But I don’t feel there’s anything wrong with what I’m doing, on principle. I’m responsible. I’m certainly not chatting up single men — frankly, I try to avoid any conversation if I can. I’m here for a few blissful moments of quiet.

But I feel a certain stigma, so I don’t tell anyone. The first time I did it, I had an early evening haircut. Afterward, I felt refreshed and happy and not quite ready to go home. I passed a sushi bar I’d always wanted to try and found myself pulling into a parking space. “Birds of Prey” was on the TV hanging on the wall, the last movie I saw by myself in the theater. Movies were my previous choice for some “alone time,” but now, with four children, a quick stop at a bar feels more manageable than a whole afternoon away. It felt like fate was telling me what I was doing was OK. I ordered two sashimi rolls and something with Blue curaçao in a martini glass, and I was hooked.

The next time, I was leaving a work event and realized I wasn’t due home for another hour. I stopped at a bar that had been one of my college haunts, and I felt nostalgic and pleasant.

Pre-kids, my husband and I loved to go out to eat. I hate cooking, so at the end of a long day, I’d casually mention a nearby spot was running some specials, and perhaps we should splurge on a night out, and off we went. For me, good food and no dishes to clean make up the epitome of a relaxing night.

But now that we have kids, a trip to a restaurant costs triple what it once did, and getting four kids out the door and answering “are we there yet?” five times within a 10-minute drive is no more relaxing than throwing a meal together at home. But I miss that experience, and this is a way of reclaiming a little of that bliss.

I’m just so weary of schedules and planning. A spontaneous stop with a light bite and drink made by someone who’s not me is so refreshing.

So I glanced down at that Spider-Man underwear and smile, wondering what a young, single me would think if she saw a woman sitting at a bar by herself with diapers poking out of her purse. I think I would have been embarrassed for her.

If I saw it now, I’d know I was in the company of another mother. I’d buy her a drink and raise a glass, glad that she too has found a short sanctuary.

Lauren Davidson is a Pittsburgh-based writer and editor focusing on parenting, arts and culture, and weddings. She has worked at newspapers and magazines in New England and western Pennsylvania and is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh with degrees in English and French. She lives with her four energetic kids and one affectionate cat. Follow her on Twitter @laurenmylo.

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