I just read this fantastic blog post by Sarah Hosseini about the culture of Mom-drinking and its dangers. We’ve all seen the memes on Facebook and can probably testify to the popularity of jokes and catchy phrases about how Moms can’t get through a day of mothering without a drink.
I wanted to chime in on the subject. Once upon a time, I was in Stevens Point Wisconsin, spending my birthday weekend at my parent’s house. My family was with me (husband + 2 kiddos aged 3 and 1), and my sister and her family were there too (husband + 3 kiddos aged 2 and under).
Any day that includes five children aged 3 and under, however fun, is going to be hard work. It just is. But finally, around 7pm, all the kids were in bed and the adults had gone outside to the patio. Yippee! Time to have fun! Time to share stories, jokes, and remember what it feels like to just be ourselves! We stretched out. Mom started a fire and brought out supplies for S’mores.
BUT. Just as the relaxation was beginning, one of the children (who shall remain nameless) decided to scream. And not just for a few minutes–but for hour after hour.
Cue that disappointed frustration that is most intense when the challenging situation occurs outside of what are supposed to be your ‘normal mommy/daddy working hours’–and even worse–on a vacation during which you have limited hours to enjoy (as an adult) your adult loved ones!
My sister had to go in about a million times to deal with the situation, since the sheer volume of the screaming threatened to wake up all the other children. In fact, the screams were of such a high pitch that my dad (a seasoned sound technician, among other things) actually measured the frequency with an app on his phone. We all laughed. My sister tried to laugh.
In between my sister’s attempts to defuse the situation, and seeing the deep discouragement on her face, I said in sympathetic tones,
“You need some wine.”
The child in question eventually went to sleep (hallelujah), but what a battle it was.
Later, my mom pulled me and my sister aside.
“I don’t like it when you girls say you need alcohol,” she said.
I was shocked. Defensive. I mean, lighten up, Mom! We’re not alcoholics! It’s just a way of talking! Relax! Can’t you see what a hard evening it’s been?
I tried to attribute her apparently extreme sensitivity about this comment to our generational differences, which also compel her to wear things like pantyhose which (thank heavens) a whole generation has now rejected. (Horrid, clingy things.)
But however much I wanted to brush away her comment, it stuck with me.
I don’t like it when you say you need alcohol.
Fast forward to present, about two and a half years later. Guess what? I have no idea what we talked about during that weekend in Stevens Point. Who said what, when, what riveting subjects were debated, joked about, pontificated on. Except for her remark. That’s right–I’ve never forgotten what she said. Because, though I didn’t want to see it during that particularly fraught moment on that particularly fraught evening, she was right.
So. I’ve stopped saying that I need alcohol. Or that anyone else does. If I slip up, red alarms immediately start beeping in my head and I correct myself to “I’d like” or “I want.”
Needing alcohol is not something to banter about. It’s serious. And haven’t so many of us felt that temptation, especially after a stressful or miserable day? To need a drink in order to move on emotionally from whatever happened during the day? I know I have.
Mom, thanks for the wisdom of your comment. It took me some time to stop being defensive and realize how important that statement was.
So here’s to not needing alcohol–and not talking like we need it either.