Have you read that post making the rounds about the funny parents of Twitter and how parenting and alcohol go together like peas and carrots? Did you chuckle as you read it with that soft smile of shared experience glowing in your eyes? If so, pat yourself on the back and count your blessings, my friend. You don’t know how good you have it. Because, you see, when I read that post, I winced my way through it with the bitter longing of an outsider. The sad truth is that for me, wine and motherhood go together about as well as do peas and carrots and a Brownie Batter Blizzard from Dairy Queen.
There was a time, not that long ago (by eternity’s standards, anyway), that I could enjoy an entire bottle of wine and live to tell about it the next morning. I’m not talking about slowly chipping away at a bottle of vacuum-sealed Pinot over the course of a week until it has turned to vinegar (at which point, in all honesty, if I’m desperate enough, I still might continue to choke it down). No, I’m talking about polishing off a bottle in one sitting. Possibly half a sitting.* And then I had kids. And suddenly—basically overnight—I became a lightweight, a cheap date, a freshman newbie (without the benefit of the perky boobs and charming naivete).
Simultaneous to this occurrence, it became very clear to me that as a mom, I am allowed two specific indulgences in life: coffee and wine. That’s it. The well-being and future of the entire human race rests squarely on our shoulders, and for our efforts we are lavished with permission to indulge in a little java in the morning and vino in the evening. And if for some reason, you have those times reversed, God bless you.
As I was shopping for gifts this Christmas season, I found myself getting a little annoyed with all this coffee and wine nudge-nudge, wink-wink BS. Is this really the best we’ve got? I wondered. Up all night worrying about or nursing or taking care of your sick kids? Here—treat yourself to an extra cup of coffee this morning. You’ve earned it! Stressful day trying to keep your offspring alive? Here—have a glass of wine! You deserve it! The coffee and wine industry really don’t have to do any brand awareness or marketing; we’ve taken care of that for them. We moms are walking, talking billboards for the
usefulness necessity of coffee and wine in our lives.
Don’t believe me that coffee and wine are all we’ve got to live for (outside of those precious little cutie patooties who made us this way in the first place)? OK, try out the alternatives and let me know how it goes. Wanna sleep in on the weekends—because, after all, they are weekends, right? WRONG. Wanna indulge in a few uninterrupted hours of binge watching the latest Netflix phenomenon without feeling guilty about all the things you should be doing with that time—namely, sleeping? REQUEST DENIED. OK, let’s aim low. Wanna be able to shut the door when you pee to have a few seconds of privacy, during which you can close your eyes and pretend you’re all alone in this great big world? WHAT, ARE YOU KIDDING ME? You’re a mom. Go have a glass of wine and get over it!
In case you can’t tell, I’ve found myself getting a little disillusioned with this messaging, even though I’m guilty of spreading it like the gospel. Behold, the Christmas shirt that I coveted from the moment it was posted on this very blog in early December. When I finally got my hot little hands on one, you couldn’t pry it off of me with a crowbar and blowtorch. Because, you see, I’m as guilty as the next woman of cheering my friends towards the finish line with the promise of a glass of wine waiting for them in the wings. Just the other day, in fact, I had the following exchange:
But here’s the rub: I really don’t enjoy drinking like I used to back when I had a functioning tolerance. I’d like to enjoy drinking again. Oh, believe me, I’d really like to enjoy drinking again. But drinking comes with so many undesirable side effects that it recently seems hardly worth the effort to try to “unwind” with a glass of wine. For one, I get drowsy after I drink—which is great if you’re going straight to bed, not so great if you’re staring down a stack of mail, paperwork, and empty school lunchboxes all silently but undeniably insisting on your immediate attention. If the glass of wine doesn’t do a TKO on me pretty quickly, it’s almost worse because when I’m still awake an hour later, I’m rewarded for my troubles with a throbbing headache and spirit of self-loathing. And worst of all is the morning after. I feel groggy, sluggish, and just in an all-around bad mood. This is after one glass of wine, people. ONE. GLASS.
Can you imagine what happens after two glasses? Oh, the wheels totally come off the bus. It’s as if I’m four hours into my 21st birthday bar crawl if I dare to drink two glasses of wine these days. I am telling stories that I had formerly vowed would never see the light of day again. I am taking duckface selfies like I’m 18 with a hand and a face that tell you very clearly I am not. I am schooling acquaintances in the glories of the Brazilian wax: both the complete start-to-finish process as well as the perceived benefits of the procedure—details which should never find their way into cocktail party conversation, I can assure you.
And as for getting up the next morning… Forget about it! I will lie in bed face down until the very last possible second praying that the room will stop spinning and that my body temperature will kindly drop below 200 degrees. I will then wince my way through the morning with my hands clenched around my head like a vice begging for mercy and chanting that I will never drink again. And this is what I’m wishing upon my friends when I cheerfully chide them to “have a glass of wine or two!”?! What kind of masochist am I?!?
My husband, an avid wine drinker who has grown tired of my complaining that I can’t enjoy a glass with him anymore, has suggested that I “train” to rebuild my tolerance. “You’re going to have to train like you would if you were running a marathon,” he says. “It might be hard and even painful at first, but you’ve got to keep at it. No pain, no gain,” he says. Sometimes I wonder who exactly this man thinks he married. The concept of training for a marathon is about as foreign to me as the concept of standing up to pee. With all due credit to you natural born athletes out there, my personal motto has always been “no pain, no gain, no problem.”
So instead, here I am complaining to you, my friends and compatriots, that drinking, like many things after motherhood, ain’t what it used to be. Gone are the days of reveling in that glass of wine with dinner, post-dinner glass, and pre-bedtime glass. Here are the days of enthusiastically encouraging everyone else around you to do what you wish you could be doing yourself: raising that glass high and often. You can drink to that, right? Cheers, friends! Or something…
*Disclaimer: Please note that I say this not as something to brag about or be proud of but simply as a statement of fact.