It's no wonder so many of us mums turn to booze. It's freely available, cheap, socially acceptable - encouraged even, and it works.
Let's be honest. Short term it works. It takes us away from our domestic drudgery, without actually taking us away. We can still be at the kitchen bench chopping carrots with kids yelling demands at us, but with that glass of chardonnay sitting next to us we feel like an 'adult' and slightly removed from the situation in a 'fun' way (I did anyway). The more booze that goes in, the more our pleasure receptors are enlivened and we feel good - warm and numb and 'fun' and 'soothed'.
It did me anyway. Boy did I love my nightly wines.
It's all artificial of course - the liquid drug creates a chemical reaction in our brains that mimics genuine feelings of well being. So it's not authentic, doesn't last, and we get dumped down and left feeling cold afterwards (often at 3am). For me this meant feeling strangely bored and perpetually exhausted about my never ending domestic duties and the incessant demands of my kids.
Don't get me wrong - my kids are the most perfect creatures that have ever been created, but being a mum is HARD BLOODY WORK! We are all BLOODY LEGENDS! (Sorry dads, I know you are too.. I just can't help but write this post from my female perspective). We give and we give and we give to those blood-sucking leeches we call our offspring. And they take, take, take because that's what kids are hard-wired to do. It's the way of the world. We breed them, we feed and love them, we nurture them, we give, give, give. They are born, they develop, they have human wants and needs and are unformed emotionally so have no real concept of life outside of their own basic desires and they take, take, take.
So, like I say it's no wonder so many of us mums turn to booze. Who wouldn't want to be instantly warmed and 'taken away' at 5pm every day?
I was down at the local Rec Centre last Friday with my sister at a busy, noisy pre-school playgroup. As we were packing to go her 1-year old started having a major meltdown. A mum sitting behind us fixed us with a sympathetic 'I've been there too' smile and said "Thank goodness for coffee and alcohol - that's all that is getting us through isn't it!". My sister and I both laughed - ha ha! - and there we were, three mums locked into a moment of weary solidarity, camaraderie and understanding.
But secretly I was thinking; "actually I don't touch either of those substances any more". Alcohol went nearly 4 years ago because I had no control over it and was imbibing WAY too much. Coffee went about a year ago because I just decided it was a dumb habit that I didn't really enjoy.
But I'm still in the mum club. I still answer a million questions a day, do constant housework, prepare endless meals and offer boundless love and support. I still get exhausted, worn out and over it. Sometimes I feel like crawling under the bed covers and staying there all day. Or at least standing in the middle of the kitchen shouting 'WHAT ABOUT ME!!!!!!!!!!!'.
The funny thing is, the longer I go without drinking booze or coffee, the more I realise they weren't actually doing anything to help my situation. In fact, they were hindering it. Sure - I don't get that chemical release at 5pm .. but I see that as artificial now and an unhelpful con.
And the truth is I'm actually less tired now because I sleep great. I'm happier now because I'm not feeling guilty about my drinking. I'm more proud now because I am more tolerant of my kids and present for their needs (especially as they get older and need more emotional support). And I'm delighted now that I'm no longer modelling steady, heavy wine consumption as an acceptable way to live.
I'll take being a sober exhausted mum over being a boozy exhausted mum any day. And I'll still laugh along with other mums when comments are made about the crutches that get us through. Because we are all in this together. Even us sober mums. We may be making different personal choices, but we still need the solidarity, camaraderie and understanding.
Love, Mrs D xxx