Mama Madison: Just like starting over

Going out again on New Year's Eve

When I was a kid, all the parents in my neighborhood seemed to have mighty plans for New Years Eve. I remember my mom dressing up -- satin, pantyhose, and wicked high heels -- to go somewhere special. I'm not sure I ever actually knew where she and my dad were going, but it was clear you couldn't get there without perfume and shiny lipstick. And every year they landed my siblings' and my favorite baby sitter for the occasion. Her name was Diane and she was the embodiment of everything cool about the early 70s. She had stick-straight Marcia Brady hair parted down the middle, wore puka beads, and brought America's debut album tucked under her arm each time she came over. I still can't help but think of her whenever "The Horse with No Name" comes on the radio.

Once I got to middle school, my parent's NYE social life died down to stay home with my younger siblings, allowing me to become the early 80s version of Diane. Every year I looked forward to earning at least double pay (I think I cleared almost 50 bucks once) to watch the neighbor kids while their parents hit the middle-age party circuit. It is my sincere hope the three Michnick children, now all at least 40, remember me every time they accidentally encounter "Bette Davis Eyes" or "The Pina Colada Song."

But I've never once gotten a babysitter for my own kids on New Year's Eve. My husband and I moved to Madison when our oldest was 10 months old and settled, blissfully so, into a very child-friendly neighborhood. So child-friendly in fact, that for years the 'hood had a tradition of rotating New Year's Eve parties that you bought your kids to. If Auld Lang Syne was sung at any of these events, it was definitely done before the clock struck nine.

Eventually the number of kids in our four-block radius made it impossible for anyone to host these gatherings at their home without needing to call in a professional cleaning crew the next day. And with that, the party jumped the shark and moved to the basement of the neighborhood church. As you might imagine, it's a little hard to let loose New Year's style with so many statues of saints looking on. The all-neighborhood party tradition ended a year or two later.

On the NYE's that followed we tried outdoor ice-skating, at-home fondue and family trips downtown for US Bank Eve to check out the Rick Wilcox magic show. But the only person I've actually seen dressed to the nines on December 31 these past 14 years has been the magician's lovely assistant Susan, who sported at least three wardrobe changes, all involving sequins, at last year's performance.

I'm sure I haven't really missed much on the 31st since becoming a parent, but there is a piece of me that thinks it might be fun to do something grown-up this year. The holiday falls on a Saturday night, after all. But I'll be honest; I have no idea what to do. A four-course dinner at a downtown restaurant? Live music at a club?

Do any of you parents out there actually go out for New Year's Eve in the traditional "champagne popping, ball drops at midnight, I have something better to do than watch the weirdly intriguing pair of Justin Beiber and Carlos Santana on Dick Clark" kind of way?

If so, do share.

Because I'd be happy to share a sitter--I'm pretty sure my 14 year old is available.

And 30 years from now your kids can hear "Sexy and I Know It" and think fondly of him.

comments powered by Disqus

More to read

Loading More Articles
No More Articles

Mama Madison: Back-to-school confidences

Is it just me or does each summer seem to go by quicker than the last? The end of summer is upon us and for many families this means the start of a new school year.

Mama Madison: Does back-to-school really mean a whole new wardrobe?

This past week, on the way to the grocery store, my daughter asked what I believed she thought would be a innocuous question, "Mom, when are we going back-to-school shopping?"

Mama Madison: Next generation of bloggers

Volunteering with the Young Writers Summer Camp this past week really helped me to remember how utterly creative kids can be when encouraged to come up with their own ideas and use their own words.

Mama Madison: Returning to the workforce

This past week I gleefully accepted an offer for new job on the UW-Madison campus. My kids are getting are older and I guess I've felt for a while now that it was time to figure out what would be next for me on the professional front.

Triathlons raise money to teach kids healthy habits

"Kids spend so much time in and around school, it's the only place where some have a chance to develop an appreciation for a healthy lifestyle," says Katie Hensel, founder and executive director of Tri 4 Schools.

Mama Madison: Kids will find their own passions in their own ways

"I'm envious, mom," said my twelve-year-old daughter as she hopped in the car after theater camp last week. "All the other kids in my group seem to really like, and to be really good at, singing, dancing and acting. But I think all those things are just okay."

Vital work is being done at the Lussier Community Education Center, from community-building to STEM skills

"People are looking to book space here all the time," says Remy Fernández-O'Brien, communications and facilities coordinator for the Lussier Community Education Center, a private, nonprofit community center on Madison's west side. "They want to throw their child's first birthday party here or hold a Girl Scout meeting. We're really busy year-round, but it's especially lively here in the summer."

Mama Madison: Parental dice rolls?

Last week, in response to the county-wide Sleep Safe, Sleep Well public health campaign that encourages parents to "share the room, not the bed" with their sleeping infants, Isthmus contributor Ruth Conniff penned a lovely opinion piece in defense of bed sharing entitled "Confessions of a Co-Sleeper."

Mama Madison: What constitutes a keepsake?

As much as I'd like to believe there is latent genius in my daughter's early finger paintings, I'm pretty sure her works are not distinguishable from those created by the pointer fingers and pinkies of thousands of other children from across the world.

Mama Madison: Young love

Seeing Romeo and Juliet this past weekend was a definite reminder that I need to prepare for something that might resemble a (Near) West Side Story around our place pretty soon.

Mama Madison: What a mother fears most

All during childhood, we calmly tell our kids they don't need to be afraid of the dark, thunder or the monster under the bed. But it's pretty hard to keep your parental cool when your kid is about to embark on the one thing that terrifies you. I knew the problem wasn't really with him. It was with me.

Operation Fresh Start's Youth Conservation Corps helps kids, and kids help parks

Last January, when temperatures dipped below minus 30 and most people between the ages of 16 and 24 did anything to stay inside, a small yet sturdy group of at-risk teenage boys and young men stacked wood and managed controlled burns at Festge County Park near Cross Plains. Five months later, following a temperature swing of more than 100 degrees, Isthmus found some of those same guys removing invasive honeysuckle and buckthorn at Lake View Hill County Park on Madison's north side.

Mama Madison: Summer stress solved by yoga

The first week of summer break at our place usually comes and goes without incident. At times, one could argue, it even verges on pleasant. I have no school lunches to pack and the kids have no 7 a.m. buses to catch.

Mama Madison: The greatest fans of road repair

Have you tried getting anywhere on either Verona Road or East Johnson lately? I'm pretty sure a six-month old could crawl to Fitchburg, or across the isthmus, in less time that it takes me to drive there these days.

Mama Madison: The alarm sounds

As soon as the door closed behind him, I poured myself a cup of the coffee he had made and took a moment to let the enormity of what just happened sink in. My son was ready that morning despite my inability to properly set an alarm clock. My kid was ready that morning without nudging, cajoling, or reminding. He was ready, even when I wasn't.

Mama Madison: My summer book list

For the past 17 years or so (i.e., since I've had kids), I haven't made books the priority in my life I know they should be. It's not that I don't try. Just this past weekend I had the best of intentions of picking up, and even finishing, I am Malala, this year's UW-Madison's Go Big Read pick. But the copy still sits untouched on my nightstand.

Make Music Madison gives young artists a chance to perform

The longest day of the year is upon us. For those of you keeping track, the sun will rise at 5:18 a.m. and set at 8:41 p.m. on Saturday, June 21. All that daylight, courtesy of the annual summer solstice, will provide the perfect backdrop for Make Music Madison, a daylong event featuring hours and hours of free performances in nearly every corner of the city.

Mama Madison: Watching talent grow

Last week, for the first time, I made my way up to one of the open gallery nights during Madison West's Fine Arts Week, the school's annual showcase for all things creative. The scope of the event is huge, with nearly 1,600 students participating, and the quality of the presented works is phenomenal. It's almost as if the school had been lifted off its perch on Regent Street and traveled back in time to Belle Époque Paris.

Mama Madison: Writing time at Olbrich

If you have aspiring authors in your house, this summer offers a fabulous opportunity for them refine their writing skills. For its second summer, the Greater Madison Writing Project, in partnership with Olbrich Botanical Gardens, is sponsoring two week-long camps in August for young writers entering grades 3-8.

Mama Madison: When UW-Madison's semester is over, the kids want out too

There are lots of benefits to living in a college town. First and foremost, there is always something going on -- a lecture, a film series. Maybe even a protest, if you're lucky. And since becoming a Madisonian, I, for the first time in my life, find myself interested in college football.


Emails from Isthmus Parents feature event highlights, story links, site updates, and occasional special offers from trusted sources. Name and email address are required. Thanks!