Last Christmas you were pregnant. This Christmas you've stopped breastfeeding, got baby into a routine and are ready to get your dancing shoes back on. The reality? You'll be home by 9pm...
Some people blossom when they're pregnant. Just as some people don't mind sitting in the pub with an orange juice and lemonade while their friends get decidedly merry on lager tops and start repeating themselves. But if you're a normal, sane person, during the nine months of your 'confinement' you will have exchanged nights out with the girls for nights in watching reality TV with a family-sized packet of Minstrels.
Which is quite fun, and probably all you feel like doing when your feet are the size of the novelty animal slippers you've tried - and failed - to squeeze them into. Besides, nausea, indigestion and mind-boggling fatigue aren't really conducive to getting home at 1am to eat cold pizza out of the fridge.
And then there's the newborn phase. You have an absorbent pad covering every available orifice. You are experiencing the kind of sleep deprivation that they inflict on trainee secret agents. And you have a tiny human being attached to your chest. Funnily enough, none of this makes you want to go to the pub.
Then, slowly, it happens. The hankering. Your friends start talking about a night out, and instead of feeling exhausted just listening, you feel a bit left out. You squeeze yourself back into your pre-pregnancy clothes. You dance around the kitchen to the latest Rihanna tune, much to the amusement of the no-longer-tiny human being in the high chair.
It's time. You're ready.
But seriously, don't get your hopes up.
You are not the girl you used to be. You are a mum. You are also a complete lightweight. And your night out will not be like your nights out of old. Here's why.
Firstly, the days of cracking open a bottle of wine 'to get ready with' are over. Mainly because 'getting ready' is no longer about curling your eyelashes and straightening your hair while listening to Pete Tong at neighbour-bothering volume levels.
No, it's about getting the baby settled, then writing a novel-length list of instructions about how to get the baby settled for your other half, should said baby wake up when you're out.
This is not a bad thing. If you had a bottle of Pinot Grigio before you left the house, well, you wouldn't ever leave the house. You might make it to the porch, but that would be about it. Which leads nicely onto point two: You will try and pace yourself. And you will not manage it.
Why not? Well, it's just too exciting. You're out, being you, not being your baby's mum. You are with your friends, and some of them might not have kids, which will mean they don't want to talk about flat head syndrome and the effect of dummies on teeth. They want to talk about exciting things like films, fashion, men they fancy... blimey! Let's get another bottle of wine in!
Thirdly, you have a lot of making up to do. You are trying to squash the last 18 months of no nights out into five hours. Cocktails? Let's! Karaoke? Why not! Line dancing? Hell yes! And that's all by 8pm. You are running on adrenalin, and soon you will crash. By 9pm, like I promised.
And so it happens. The room begins to spin. Your friends shoot each other concerned glances and call your husband. A taxi is summoned. And then, by 9.30pm, guess what? You're sitting on the couch watching reality TV with a family-sized packet of Minstrels.
Don't worry. You'll find your mojo again. It's a rite of passage, and we all have to do it. Soon your kids will be on sleepovers and you'll be wishing there was more cold pizza in the fridge when you lurch in the door at 1am. But for now, you're a new mum on the loose. Enjoy it. And make sure you have some paracetamol for when the baby wakes up at 6.30am...