By Susan-Kate Heaney
I’ve always been good at parties. Though, I do experience panic when I realize I know no one there, there’s no alcohol and it’s shoes off and I’m wearing two different hole-filled socks. BUT IN GENERAL, I love a party. I thrive on meeting new people, sharing stories and positioning myself as close to the snack table as possible.
I was, therefore, thrilled to be invited to a swanky house party a few months after my baby was born. I did my hair (dry shampooed my dirty mop into oblivion), applied my makeup (three rounds of under eye concealer to hide my lack of sleep), and put on a pre-baby Reformation dress I’d never worn (complete with the hardest working pair of Spanx in post-birth show business). I even had a small (tall) Tito’s and soda to pregame. I was ready.
Until I got to the party and froze. Do I knock? Do I ring the bell? Do I just walk in? I peered in the window. There were lots of very snazzy people talking, drinking, laughing, dancing. Could I do this? Could I be one of them? Yes, I told myself. You are young and carefree even though you feel like a sea witch who hasn’t emerged in the last 7,582 years. You got this.
I mustered all my resolve and pushed the door open. And for a few brief moments, I was young and carefree. I flitted around, meeting people, sipping wine, oh so casually leaning against a piano, slice of pizza in hand, telling a group of strangers the rivetting story of my emergency c-section, when someone requested pictures of my baby. And it was all downhill from there!
“Of course!” I replied, like a bubbly glass of champagne.
I opened my phone, and there, right in front of me, was my beautiful baby. So open. So happy. So innocent. What was she doing right now? Was she sleeping? Were she and my husband playing? Did she miss me? I looked up, tears in my eyes, and there were four pairs of questioning eyes staring at me. Oh, crap. How long had I been gone for? I plastered a smile on my crazy-eyed face and held out my phone. And then I felt it...my milk.
In case you have never lactated, I will let you in on a secret. There is something that happens to your milk when you get emotional/worry about your baby/it’s a Tuesday. You...leak. There I was, starting to sputter in front of a group of strangers in my lightly colored dress.
“I have to pee! I’ll be back!” I yelped and took off jauntily, as jauntily as one can when they are trying to cover nipple stains.
Once I got myself cleaned up, I stumbled into a room where the host of the party was debuting a new song he’d written. He’d sang on the track, played guitar and produced it, so naturally I yelled out, “You’re like the Adam Sandler of music!” This time, twenty pairs of eyes stared at me as if I’d just said that I hated Fleabag.
“You know... because he just wrote that movie for Netflix. With Jennifer Aniston! And he’s in it! And he does producing. Too. You both do it all!”
Oh man. Party banter had transitioned from bad to nonsensical.
Disoriented, I clawed my way up the spiral staircase into the kitchen for a cocktail. And as soon as I got in there, I overheard a super misogynistic comment. I’ve never been one to ignore sexism, and have always spoken up for what I believe in. But tonight...tonight I was going IN. I started on a tirade against sexism that lasted longer than the wait between new Great British Bake Off episodes. It was loud, it was impassioned, it was epic. My friend, dating the party’s host, came it and the beginning of the tirade and again fifteen minutes later.
“Oh, it’s still happening!” she innocently said as she poured a little more wine (good friend!) into my nearly empty glass.
The party broke up right around this point and for good reason. I had turned a birthday party into a most serious lesson about women’s rights. I stumbled into my Lyft, exhausted and unsure, when I got a text. It was a sweet picture of my baby, not sleeping but happy, curled up on my husband’s chest as he drank a beer on our couch. It was a party I couldn’t wait to attend.
Image: Twitter/The Office