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Party Life, Ruined: Is It Motherhood or Age ?

It's hard to believe it's been 20 years. Twenty years since I packed up all of my stuff and set off for a new adventure. Twenty years since I was away from my family, independent for the first time in my life. Twenty years since college.

A few weeks ago, I went to my 20-year college reunion. I was nervous about the weekend, to say the least, but the second we hit the home stretch, that last county road that takes you into Ithaca, it felt like returning home. It was so wonderful to visit my old campus, re-connect with old friends and even meet some new ones. (And, ahem, get away from my kids for the first time ever.)

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It was a surreal experience being back at Cornell University. So many memories rushing back with every step you take on the arts quad, so much time to spend with friends, like you did back when you were in college. In some ways, it almost felt like being back in school. Except, now that I'm a mommy, life is a bit different these days.

Back in college, we used to lament how the bars closed at 1am. Now, I can barely stay up past 10pm.

A scene from reunion:

The guys who lived downstairs from us senior year: Wanna come to an after-hours?

Me: What time does it start?

Them: When the bars close at 1 a.m., thus "after" hours.

Me: Can we start it at 10? My bedtime's usually 9.

Them: No.

I looked at the guys and rolled my index finger in a circle—the international symbol for: let's wrap this up.

On Friday night, after the five-hour drive up to campus, there was no way I was making it to an after-hours party. (I did manage to stay awake until midnight, though. And yes, I am bragging about it.)

But on Saturday, I woke up ready. College life was back in my bones—that feeling like anything was possible, like I could do anything I put my mind to.

Even staying up past 1 in the morning.

I tried to convince my friend, Jess, that we should make it. She immediately said yes. (Turns out, she was not hard to convince.) Shawn, just as quickly, said no, but our friend, Julie, was a maybe.

I texted our friend Jason and told him that we were coming to after hours. I first checked my watch at 8:30 that night, so we had a long way to go. I had coffee after dinner, which in my mommy life is a huge no-no. I generally can't drink coffee past 3 p.m., so I was hoping the caffeine would do its trick.

Turns out, I'm just not cool anymore. Probably never was in the first place.

The plan was to meet at Ruloff's, the famous Collegetown bar that was our old stamping grounds, then head out to after hours when Collegetown closed at 1. Jess, Julie (turns out, she wasn't hard to convince, either) and I made it to the bar at midnight. Just one hour to go. "Drink vodka!" Julie suggested. "Don't drink wine! It will make you sleepy!" I did as I was told. Jess and I downed vodka tonics and sat down with our friends.

At around 12:30, I began to feel it. That lull you get when your son asks you to rub his back until he falls asleep, but then you end up falling asleep in his bed and wake up in a panic at 3 a.m., puzzling over how you will sneak out of the room without waking him up.

I did not want to fall asleep at Ruloff's and wake up in a panic at 3.

I looked at the guys and rolled my index finger in a circle—the international symbol for: let's wrap this up. We all paid our tabs and left the bar before it closed. Which meant that this after hours wasn't technically an after hours yet, since it wasn't supposed to begin until the bars closed.

"I must make it past 1 a.m.," I thought. "I must make it!" I couldn't wait to brag to my husband about our adventure.

The clock struck 1 and I silently congratulated myself on being cool enough for making it to an after hours at my college reunion.

Life is good. I've got my husband, my kids and my career now. I'm in a different stage of my life now.

But I'm not. Truth is, I was beyond exhausted the next day. And the day after that. OK, the entire week afterwards was kind of a mess, if you really do want to know, but let's not speak of that. Let's never speak of that again.

Turns out, I'm just not cool anymore. Probably never was in the first place. (But at least I was able to stay awake past 10, so that's something.)

And maybe my wild college days are WAY past me. But you know what? That's okay. I'm happy with where my life is now (and all of my college friends seem to be, too). I like mommy life, getting into bed with my hubby at 9 and watching TV to wind down from a tiring day.

Life is good. I've got my husband, my kids and my career now. I'm in a different stage of my life now. Back in college, when I thought about what my life might be like when I was older, it looked a lot like this.

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So, bring on the next Cornell reunion. In another five years, I definitely won't be able to stay up past 10 for the after hours parties. But maybe, by then, we can make happy hour a thing?

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