I view honesty in all forms as a great gift, and a symbol of trust. For me, this is the core of GNO. Each mom bringing her ‘self’ out, reaching in and pulling her out of her daily grind.
When I was an expat in Seoul, Mrs. Chun used to discourage me making Korean girlfriends. She wanted to be the primary influencer. She said Korean moms never had girls’ night out. They had lunches.
Girls Night Out is silly. Good mommies stay home and help their children with homework. Husbands have work dinners. His job. Your job is stay home. Other Korean mommies will put bad ideas in your head. Don’t make trouble and don’t embarrass husband. Hotel bars are for bad girls. You stay home.
I agree that GNOs can be anywhere and anytime. Yune, Min-Jee, Ahn, Lydia, Maeve and I had lots of long lunches in hip Seoul, dressing up and having fun. We shopped the exotic markets, finding treasures and bargaining fiercely. We talked about kids and stressful situations as we walked along the shopping alleys. All of us had stories. We had things we weren’t sure about. We could talk about our small victories and the way a child made us laugh. They were shared experiences because all of us were invested. As the kids entered school, our talks evolved to the pressure of raising children amidst the ruthless competitiveness starting to surround us.
Gatherings with girlfriends nurtures our souls so we can wake up the next day and face the newest set of challenges associated with the daily grind.
Other friends offered their views about GNO.
Nikki, “I solve like a girl”
A discussion about your challenges with your husband? It’s virtually a one-way conversation, followed by a flood of action-oriented advice. If the advice is not immediately and entirely embraced, the husband gets annoyed. Girls’ Night Out conversations are meandering discussions with many unanticipated turns that leave a mom feeling like she has released her stress, and someone understands her. A collective idea for resolution is usually offered. And there are always issues to solve. I’d be a terrible mother without my sounding boards.
Joanna, don’t hijack GNOs with a personal agenda
We have had the same girls group for years and our children are growing up together. Now that our kids are in elementary school, sometimes the conversations end up getting competitive. At our last dinner, two moms were talking about how they can’t get their kids to go to bed due to their voracious reading. As a teacher, I know that children often love to read until about second grade when they have to read to complete journals and do all their other subjects. Then it is a challenge to develop great readers (which is critical because good readers tend to be good learners). Then one of the moms said about her kindergartener, ‘Luke is sailing through the Jack and Annie books. I don’t know what I’m going to do. There’s a shortage of good books for that level for boys.’ Maeve was clearly fed up and said, ‘Well good for Luke, he’ll be into porn by second grade.’ We all took a sip of our drink and looked away to hide that we were smiling.
Min-Jee, I was a GNO skeptic
I never had many women friends. I don’t get along all that well with women because I can’t stand petty behavior and drama. I prefer men’s more straightforward approach. But then I accepted an invitation for a moms’ dinner, to be honest, for my kids. My sons really wanted to play with certain kids so I went with the moms for a meal. Our discussions were amazing. There was a little gossip, but mainly we talked about our kids. Talking about the daily challenges of raising them and sharing approaches to solving issues was therapeutic. And the women went out of their way to notice good things about each other. They noticed highlights, a new shirt, lost weight and also asked sincere questions about resolutions to issues they had discussed in the past. The only slightly awkward moment was when one American woman said, ‘you’re Asian, and I can never tell your age. How old are you?’ I said, ‘I’m turning mumble-something soon.’ Another woman, Lanie, said, ‘our group is all 39! Some have been 39 for more years than others. Amy, knock it off with the personal questions.’ To be honest, Asians can’t tell Westerner’s ages either, so I wasn’t offended.
Alyssa, Australian expert, watch for new arrivals
I’ve been around expats a bit. Every year new people come and go. In Seoul, the average assignment is eighteen months, a wee bit short compared to assignments in other places like Tokyo. The kids go to school and husbands (typically) go to the office. So we arrange a UN Village coffee every other month. This way new mums can meet other mums and form relationships and connections. It’s like speed dating for a mum. Not everyone becomes friends with everyone else. But it’s really critical, as mums who have moved clear across the world need a fair go at a social circle that includes adults. Expats tend to make friends with people they might not otherwise. As an Australian, I hang back a bit and watch. I don’t want a new best friend that I have to avoid later. I find with American mums, I either love the person or she’s on too much of a soapbox. But I’ve got a good circle here so I feel lucky.
Audrey, GNO is fun!
When the girls go out to dinner, I feel a little bad for the waitress. My crew never just says, “I’ll have the chicken”. Every one of us has to change our dish. Can I have it grilled not breaded? No sauce please. Can I have extra vegetables and no potatoes? Please put the salad dressing on the side. I like my water with no lemon. Can we get more bread? Oy vey! If it comes wrong, we will always send it back. And our table does not like to be ignored! We call the waitress over. The funny part is….if we get something free, all the rules go out the window. With all the "no potatoes" and "no dressing" talk, if they bring us free dessert…even every dessert on the menu….. free…those plates will be polished clean!!! And by the end of the night, the waiters are often our best friends. I always have so much fun going out with my friends.
Audrey, we problem solve
A bunch of us really enjoy drinking Prosecco, an Italian Champagne. To be honest, it’s fairly inexpensive. At a liquor store, most bottles are $11 to $15. It’s hard to get a bad glass of Prosecco. I have gotten offended when a restaurant serves this inexpensive champagne in a flute. It is literally gone in 2 sips and they charge $12 a glass! I recently figured out that if I ask for my Prosecco in a wine glass I essentially get a double pour for the same price! Now all of my friends order it that way and endure the peculiar reactions from the wait staff.
For that moment in time, we are not competitors. We are friends and confidants and it makes us all feel human and understood.