I remember the general time period when I started to question whether or not my husband and I were drinking too much, too often. It wasn’t one incident in particular, rather a group of them.
It was Easter Sunday several years ago when I walked into a back room at my in law’s home to find my husband had passed out, drunk, on fruit-infused vodkas.
It was a Monday when “Sunday dinner” had included more wine than food, and that day was a special hell of feeling too headache-y and nauseated to do much in the way of parenting. So I called a babysitter.
It was wine in a coffee mug, even though I don’t even drink coffee.
It was selecting restaurants based on whether or not we’d be able to have a drink with our meal.
I wouldn’t say that I had reached the point of interventions, Betty Ford clinic, and AA meetings for the rest of my life. But I could see it going there, quickly. I had no ability to moderate or regulate my drinking.
So I quit drinking, altogether. Wine is no longer a part of my narrative.
It is still a part of my husband’s, which is a little weird. Since I never got to the point of having an actual problem, I guess it seems innocuous.
But still, it’s weird because in the grand picture, deciding to no longer drink alcohol is a pretty big life decision; one that isn’t taken lightly and certainly requires support. Most of the time it doesn’t matter to me, though. I’m not – like – salivating at the thought of a glass of wine; and I still cook with wine or beer and vodka. I even occasionally take a drink and hold it politely to lessen having to explain myself at parties.
I get it. Drinking your way through the hardest years of parenting (or just adulting, in general) has always been a thing.
Ladies used to drink their martinis after serving dinner in the 50s; and they’d down wine coolers all day to get through the summer months in the 90s.
Alcohol is to motherhood as fish are to water.
And yet, to me, it seems more now than ever before.
Probably – at least in part – thanks to social media, just how much women drink to get through the trials and tribulations of motherhood is in your face. It’s everywhere, every day. Having a bad day? How about some rosé. Midweek got you down? WINESDAY! Stressed to the max just getting your kids out the door for school? It’s 5 o’clock, somewhere, right?
Making matters worse is the attitude the general public takes when you stop drinking.
We don’t live in a society that supports quitting. Anything. Giving up alcohol in 2019 is like showing up for an AA meeting only to be greeted by shots of tequila and motivational handouts that say “it’s okay once in a while…”
It took me about 6 months to actually quit the sauce, altogether. Every time I told myself that this was it, I’d have another bad day and meme after meme on Facebook justified (in my head) that wine was the Land of Milk and Honey for mothers. Or we would go out to dinner with family that orders by the bottle, and that was all I needed to postpone my cutback another day.
Then, in 2016, I got pregnant, so wine was officially off the table. That’s when things got weird.
It’s either I was too tipsy to realize how weird things were before, or the result of me no longer drinking – when I used to be a regular partaker – was that things became uncomfortable between me and the general crowd in which I find myself often.
There were the people that wanted to prove to me that it was perfectly safe to drink in pregnancy.
There were those that – after I was no longer pregnant – made a big deal about how I could drink again. And when I told them I was breastfeeding, they went into the prove-it’s-safe mode again.
Now they run the gamut.
There are the people that I never realized get sloppy drunk every. single. time. I. see. them.
And there are those that ask what I’m drinking, then joke that since there’s no alcohol in my cup I must be pregnant (again).
Then there are the people that ask stupid questions when I say I stopped drinking. Like “well what do you do to have fun?” (As if the only way to have fun as an adult is to get shit faced.)
And finally there are the people who use it as an opportunity to justify their own drinking (“oh I just couldn’t do that”) or even get outright hostile towards me. As if – at the end of the day – my personal choices with regards to my body and what I put in it have anything to do with anyone else but me.
If that makes other people uncomfortable, I guess that speaks more to them and their own issues than anything else.
Wine was such a prevalent part of my narrative for years. It no longer is anymore.