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New Year’s Eve revelers can be divided into three distinct groups, depending on the way they use the word "party." There are the hard-core partiers, people who go to parties and the rest of us, who are all partied out.

I can remember the first year I realized "party" could be used as a verb. As a junior in high school, I desperately wanted to be out somewhere, partying past my curfew, but had nowhere to go.

I had only been driving for five months at the time and couldn’t stifle the urge to cruise my hometown streets one last time before the New Year.

Since it only takes 10 minutes to cruise my hometown, I was back in my driveway before the car heater had a chance to warm up.

I settled back to watch music videos and hoped my social life would pick up in 1984.

It took off like a rocket the next year, which has resulted in a sort of "New Year’s Eve" amnesia. When I try to recall the next several New Year’s Eves, all I come up with is a blur of loud music and crowded rooms.

By the time I celebrated another memorable New Year’s Eve, I was married with two young sons. Ron and I had graduated from our partying days and could only manage attending parties that allowed kids.

(For some reason, finding a baby sitter was always a challenge!)

It was New Year’s Eve of 1997, and we were invited to a party at our neighbors’ house. Jimmy was a toddler and Tommy was a tiny little rugrat who woke up 20 times a night.

Since I was usually up at midnight anyway, cleaning spit-up off my shoulder, it made sense to go out and socialize on the one night the whole neighborhood would be awake, too.

Baby number three had come along by the time we celebrated The Big One. After all those years of singing about how hard I was going to party in 1999, all I did was fall asleep on the couch with Jimmy that night.

We woke up to the sound of fireworks at midnight, mumbled, "Happy New Year" to one another, and fell right back asleep.

For the next couple of years, our family looked like we were all partied out when the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve. We didn’t even bother to keep the TV on to remind us when the big event took place.

Unless we happened to have rowdy neighbors, we all slept our way into the new year.

Then, a couple of years ago, the Zich brothers realized New Year’s Eve is a big night for staying up late to watch TV. They began camping out on the living room floor to watch "MythBusters" marathons and Nick at Nite.

I enjoy spending New Year’s Eve with everyone under one roof. Ron and I still get a good night’s sleep while the boys entertain themselves downstairs.

At worst, Ron might have to get up once or twice during the night to remind them they have to sleep at some point.

I know that next year or the next, these relaxed New Year’s Eves will be a thing of the past. Like my parents before me, I will be stuck at home while the restless teenagers roam.

For now, I plan to sleep my way into 2009 and rest while I still can. Soon enough, this Partied-Out Mom will be spending New Year’s Eve watching the clock again.

A mother of three boys, Pam Zich has been married to a Marine for 18 years and currently lives in Springfield, Va. You may e-mail her at homefront@stripes.osd.mil or visit her Web site at www.lifeonthehomefront.com.

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