Jan 28, 2015
Mark was out-of-town and I was worn out and thin from the daughter I was beginning to now call “toddler”. Fits of crying and negativity left me hankering for a glass of wine night after night. I “needed” my edge smoother, I thought.
But I also worried that I might have a problem. I worried that everyone else thought I had a problem. Ask an alcoholic and they’re sure everyone is one too. Ask the child of an addict and they are waiting to become one too. Every man I ever dated, and the first one I married, had drinking or substance abuse problems. So did I have one too? The worrying about it made me want to drink my glass or two or three of wine all the more.
I grew up witnessing my father operate in much the same mode as Stephen King described of his early work process in his book On Writing. Quantities of drinking to get quantities of writing and work done. Drink, work, and repeat. And nights in my youth were sometimes spent drinking to get drunk.
In more recent years, I didn’t obsess all day about my next glass of wine. I wasn’t hiding my use. I just assumed that come wine thirty, it would be time to pour a glass and relax. Although, I didn’t drank until I was falling down or slurring drunk, I worried that this casual use to calm my nerves was a problem that I was not in control to stop. I was building a tolerance and a midsection. Because most of all, I really didn’t like my wine belly on top of my post 40 something pregnancy belly.
If I’m a role model who says ‘No’ to her children, doesn’t that mean I should believe I have control and can obey my own No’s? Finally, I tested the waters and said,”Not this week”. Sometimes the biggest dare is to see if we really are in charge and have the guts to do something without ropes. In many cases, I think the wine was a given safety net. And I wanted to prove I could handle life without it. And I did.
Every day I’d say “See, your life is calm enough to do without that anxiety queller.” And it did wonders for how much I trust myself to have restraints. And to know I’m in charge, not the anxieties or the chosen substances to appease these fears. I proved I am running the show and my fears are not. And eventually, even when I am at my most stressed, I do not think about drinking or my long departed pal nicotine anymore.
Wine drinking has reached epic casual joking heights online. So many memes extolling the virtues of this method of “relaxation”. Not enough wine in the world kinda stuff. It’s not the wine that is in question, it’s our assumption that everyone is “using” it in the same way. And it’s a razor wire to walk. These references are shared in the kinda way that makes you complicit for your participation in the joke. You won’t judge me if you and I are both in it together.
It is OK to be stressed out. And Moms absolutely need to figure out some way to make the stress of today OK in some way. Anxiety is a real feeling, and more common than you know, and despondency isn’t good. Talking with someone may be the better choice to work out other choices. A depressant doesn’t help depression.
Grant that substance use is not abuse, yet it’s over use is also a sign that you may need to step up for your own needs and support yourself through those very real fears. And needing wine isn’t the same as wanting it.
I didn’t believe I could kick my fears or using the wine to quell the fear until I actually bravely did it. And although the first week was a tough one, the next week I said no to playing into the week’s anxieties and I had kicked my daily wine habit. On the weekend, I may say yes. And then during the week cold turkey again if it is an habitual action. I am the only one who knows how much and why I’ll drink now and it’s really my business but… I can tell you, I am not an alcoholic. And that certainty means so much to me in the light of what I grew up with. It really comes down to what I believe about myself and my truth is mine to know and be proud of while I live it.
Jan 26, 2015
The twitch on my top right eyelid is the only outer sign of how I really feel. Well maybe a little lip chewing too. I’m sure you’d notice one or the other. At 8:38 am this morning, I was an epic failure at parenting a toddler. I had yelled “Stop” like five times by this point. Dressing her had been an all out fighting tantrum from which I’d narrowly escaped getting my front teeth whacked and deadened by her skull. Cussing at anything else that had gone wrong had brought no relief. And the rest of the day hung in my mind like a cloud of impending doom.
The mental health facility that houses my “talking doctor” is adopting a new catch phrase. “It’s OK to be not OK. “ While it feels slightly better to have permission to be ‘not OK’, the yucky feeling of humanity lingers. It must also be OK to have post traumatic stress disorder because even the eye doctor explained the cause for my toddler eye twitch is stress. Duh.
Mothering is like an extreme sport that you’d rather be sitting in a chalet watching and enjoying from afar. While I crave Happy Happy all the Time Time Time and everything under control, instead I get sudden eruptions of chaos. She’s being really cute and suddenly she’s having a really really bad day and dragging me down with her. Negativity is a constant modus operandi. I felt despondent yesterday after her tantrum over a)putting on the coat, or b)clipping her toenails, or c) anything else her brain snapped over. I intended to enter a selfie challenge on Instagram and I thought a picture of this moment would be far more real than the happy grinning one I ended up with. I’m human therefore I feel and am real. I resent the expectations I have of myself otherwise.
By 10 am, I could only hold my mental breath and resolve to keep it together until I finally get a break tomorrow. Sure I intend to create more of those breaks this week and month. Knowing that daycare is around the corner is a prize I have my eye on. But everyone then has to make it to that point without losing their stuff. I almost started crying yesterday because there is nothing in the world that makes you feel like a bigger loser than knowing you’ve failed to be the most calm patient considerate prepared Mommy in town, any town, at that specific moment.
An additional motherhood requirement is for me to consider my luckiness as compared to others’ unluckiest. I better be grateful every moment because she is alive. I discovered recently that someone I’d known for 30 years had lost their first-born baby daughter many years ago. They’d created a foundation for their daughter and now their eldest living daughter is turning 14. I was speechless. An unimaginable grief. And yet I am still really disliking my daughter today. It’s my apples to their oranges. There’s automatic disparity between one parent’s experience and another’s feelings. My entitlement to feeling any and all of this allows me to move through it. I can only live my life, however ungratefully, just once.
So do I really think I suck as a parent? No. Do I make lousy choices? Yes. Will my children grow up knowing that parents are fallible human beings? Yes. And hopefully that I’m a mostly nice person. Teaching them these acts of self-tolerance so they become human beings, plus keeping them alive is my job. And then letting them go out to make their own fallible human lives and choices in the places they settle with the people they’ll come to love. Soon this will all be just a distant memory. Right?
Jan 23, 2015
(Here’s is a story I lived during the holiday rush and then had no time to publish. But it could just as well be today without the Christmas details. If you had to send out a million cards and buy and wrap presents in bulk all year long. Then it totally be all the time. Not. Christmas is just a burden… and a joy.)
The extra holiday to do list gummed up my gears last week. I have all the stuff I usually have to do to keep my kids alive and my house and mind aligned. And then you add a full on special event plan in the middle of all of it for the month of December and the brain bogs down And then it starts to hiccup.
Last week I had a grocery list that started with Milk. It got added to and then I hurriedly hit the store to go shopping. And of course, wouldn’t you know, I forgot to get the milk. I wasn’t mad at myself as I have learned to almost expect these errors but that milk is still a primary ingredient in raising the little one.
So, the same day, I needed to mail the Christmas cards out and a special birthday card so we strolled up to the post office figuring I’d grab the milk at the Farm Store and lucky me, the toddler fell asleep in the stroller too. I cruise home, put the child in the crib, put the milk in the fridge, and go on about doing my laundry with the self satisfied feeling you get when you accomplish the card thing.
Two days letter, darned if that special birthday card didn’t show back up in my mailbox without postage. While I was telling the post office ladies my milk story, buying stamps and sticking them onto the Christmas cards, and buying and addressing the mailing envelope for the card, I’d neglected to purchase the postage.
Two steps forward, one step back. At least you end up having moved up a step. And your only option is to just keep going. If you stop and throw a hissy fit about the snafus that happen daily due to your humanity or someone else’s, you’ll waste a lot of time you could be spending moving forward a hopeful next step. Forget about it.