Dear Mayor Bowser,
While you may be considering hipsters or partiers or fashion divas of the dark to be your new night mayor, that’s all wrong.
Because besides Dracula, you know who works hardest after the sun sets?
That’s right — moms.
I’ve heard that your office has been flooded with applications for this unique position — someone who can navigate the District’s growing nightlife, bridge the divide between residents and business owners, understand the needs of police and city services, and help strike the right balance between functioning order and attractive chaos.
So here’s my application for the job, and let me lay out my qualifications.
I haven’t slept since 2004. In fact, I’m writing this at 2 a.m., just as most clubs and bars in the District are emptying out. That’s around the time my firstborn son was waking up for the third time. I’ve heard your little Miranda is a pretty good sleeper. That’s rare, trust me. Most moms are as nocturnal as raccoons.
Once my sons were finally able to sleep through the night, I used those precious hours of peaceful darkness to get all kinds of things done. I’ve wrapped Christmas presents, folded wash, paid bills and planted tulip bulbs in the dead of night.
We’re all night mayors, here in Mommyland. Check the time stamps of incoming emails. Want to bet that the ones coming between midnight and 4 a.m. are all from moms? Yup. We are on fire once the sun sets.
But being a night mayor is about more than stamina.
When New York wrote its bill creating the job of night mayor, the council said the candidate has to be able to “assist nightlife establishments navigate city licensing requirements, permits, or other approvals.”
Ever seen a summer camp form? Or try to navigate a school’s medication policy? Easy peasy, been there, done.
When the District passed its bill establishing the position, the council said the night mayor has to be able to take in complaints and violations and “develop recommendations to address recurring problems or trends.”
Yeah, that pretty much describes every interaction involving the minivan front seat, feeding the dog and Fortnite. Check.
One of the world’s first night mayors, Amsterdam’s Mirik Milan, might as well have been writing a book on parenting siblings when he described the job to a reporter with CityLab.
“The night is often treated differently than the day,” he said. “When there’s a problem the first reaction of city officials is to say, ‘Hey, we have to stop this now,’ instead of bringing people together and saying we have to come up with a solution that actually works or at least makes the city a little bit better.”
Sounds like dinnertime at my house every night. I’m great at negotiating peace, even temporarily.
And as The Washington Post’s former night cops reporter, I’m well aware of the dangers that can lurk overnight.
It’s tempting to believe a night mayor also needs to be a hipster club denizen who can explain nightlife to the starchy policy wonks of the day.
But go ahead, ask me or any other mom about Kik, GOAT, flossing, juuling, yayo. We can unlock a phone, toss a room, blacklight CSI a backpack better than anyone. Decoding is survival. I know all about the fake calculator apps.
Remember that time I went in search of a midnight pot party when recreational marijuana first became legal in our fair city? I found one, too.
A mom can find the pot party, the house party and the fake sleepover.
And let me tell you, those skills are peak in a place like D.C. Because Amsterdam and New York are places where adults routinely debauch themselves with little consequence beyond hangovers or legal entanglements.
But the nation’s capital is where the corrupt play moral in the light of day, and a night mayor has to be able to wrestle with the ethics of a daytime saint’s nocturnal misdeeds. Like Trey Radel, the Florida congressman who urged drug testing of welfare recipients before he was arrested for buying cocaine (yayo) in the District. That man needed to be dragged to the police car by his ear. I could totally do that.
The night isn’t just for partying.
A night mayor has to understand the need for 24-hour supermarkets and drugstores and look for ways to help them thrive. I was on a first-name basis with the clerks at the only 24-hour grocery within driving distance of my house when my kids were little and needed cold meds.
I’d advocate for 24-hour child-care services for shiftworkers such as doctors, nurses, law enforcement officers, janitors, servers, all of whom struggle to find care that works with their hours. I’d try to help the young woman riding the bus with a sleeping child in her lap late into the night. There’s a good chance she’s homeless.
Night is about more than clubs and fun. I know this.
I’ve heard you don’t like the term “night mayor.” That you prefer “director of the District’s inaugural Office of Nightlife and Culture.”
I’ll take the job under one condition, that we adopt Amsterdam’s title — “Nachtburgemeester”!
No? Okay, then. But if not me, please consider another mom for the job.
We’ll get it right.