If someone had told me six months ago that I’d swear off all alcohol and embark on a sober summer, I would have thought they were nuts.
The truth is, I adore my wine, aka. ‘Mommy Juice’ – perhaps a little more than I should.
I would gladly drink it from a box. I enjoyed it while wearing polka-dot socks.
Pinot, chard or merlot, it can be hard to say no.
A glass of white pairs well with cheese, especially cheesy ‘reality’ shows like the Real Housewives of Orange County, but also goes hand-in-hand with baby showers, girls’ nights, date nights, camping, baseball games, hockey games, picnics, lunch dates, playdates and Netflix.
As you can see, this Valley Mom was in quite the fix.
It was shortly after I stopped nursing Zoe that wine went from a recreational activity to an alarming nightly habit.
Jason was working a string of late shifts and we were renting the top floor of a house out in Brookswood.
Back then, it seemed like I was the only young mom on the whole block. Come to think of it, I probably was. Most of the residents worked early shifts and disappeared during the day.
While we weren’t living out in the boonies, it felt like I was on a deserted island with a baby and a toddler at the time.
I’d finally get my girls to sleep around 7 p.m. and watch as all the lights on our street went out shortly after like clockwork. By 8 p.m., it would be complete darkness.
I felt so alone, so stuck and bored out of my mind. Wine offered a cheap, tasty solution to my little domestic dilemma.
Once my youngest finished her bottle and was sound asleep in a milk coma, out came mommy’s soothing bottle.
All of my worries and stress from the day — toddler meltdowns, a teething baby and mounding debt — all seemed to dissipate with every delicious sip.
Four years later and 10 lbs heavier, this occasional party for one began to blend into my own bedtime routine.
It doesn’t help matters that Jason’s days off are often mid-week.
“It’s my Saturday night tonight!!!,” he’d announce, while walking through the front door and cracking open a bottle on a Tuesday.
“Let’s watch a movie and have wine!”
But then there was also his ‘Friday, Sunday and then the real weekend.’
You’ve probably heard of #TastyTuesday, #WineWednesday or #ThirstyThursday, right? Nowadays, every day offers an excuse to indulge.
Growing up, I didn’t ever see my own mom drinking during the week. Sure, she loved to partake in some bevies on the weekend, but most nights stuck with herbal tea.
It has made me reflect on the message I have been sending to my two young, impressionable daughters.
Since turning 35, I’ve been feeling more self aware of who I am today and who I’d like to be the next 35 years.
Judging by all the wine purses, wine funnels and other funny wine-fuelled anecdotes shared on my personal Facebook wall, it’s obvious I’ve garnered the reputation as being that ‘party mom.’
Now, I’m not talking about drinking in excess, flashing anyone, blacking out or dancing on tables. That was my roaring 20’s… okay, and one wild NYE in my early 30’s fuelled by Sambuca.
It is rare I have more than four drinks on a weeknight (which is still kind of a lot). Typically, the hubs and I would just share a bottle of wine. Even so, drinking was beginning to cause a dark cloud to hang overhead.
I was unproductive, rapidly gaining weight and feeling down.
And let’s be real, wine glasses are a lot bigger than they used to be. Who actually measures their pour unless they are on Weight Watchers?. FYI, it’s 4 points per glass.
The only relief came from another glass at 5 p.m., sharp, while cooking dinner to make that ‘witching hour’ more bearable.
You know what I’m talking about right? The “I’m hungries, the “Eww, I’m not eating that,” the “Tucker pooped in the basement!the “Can’t we just get sushi?”… and my personal favourite, the “That looks disgusting – if you make me eat that I’m just gonna sit there!”
I couldn’t wait to get my girls to bed so that I could plop myself on the couch with a bag of salt & vinegar chips, raid their stale Halloween candy and pour myself second big fat cold glass of chardonnay.
It my eyes, it was my well-deserved ‘me-time.’ What I didn’t realize was what a disservice I was doing my own body, mind and soul.
Over time, I began to panic and question my nighttime routine. Why was I continuing to do it when it was making me feel like garbage? Why won’t I stop? What happens if I can’t?
There’s recreational drinking and then there’s alcoholism – Like many of my fellow parents out there, I felt trapped somewhere in the grey area.
But with alcoholism in my family tree, I can’t pretend that the grey area could get smaller in time if I’m not careful.
Nobody really talks about it, but I know I can’t be the only one out there with this love-hate relationship with this mommy and whine- wine culture.
Most would and have said not to overthink it. Kristyl – go pour yourself a big glass of wine and calm down, they say.
For the past year, I’ve tried on and off to take a vacation from my vice, but failed — well, until recently.
Today marks my six month sober anniversary, which I’ve decided to extend through the summer. Aside from my two pregnancies, I haven’t gone that long without drinking, even occasionally, since the age of 19.
I’ve had SO MANY people ask, “Are you nuts? or “Why do this in the summer?” “Are you sure you don’t want just one glass? How about a spritzer?” “Are you pregnant?”
Fair enough, I get it.
Part of the reason was pure vanity. I hated the bags under my tired orbs and the escalating number on the scale.
But it was mostly out of desire to live in the moment this summer with my two girls. My youngest is going to Grade 1 in the fall – I wanted this vacation to be extra special, even if we don’t go anywhere super exciting.
I didn’t want to wake up each morning feeling grumpy and groggy like summers of not so long ago.
I’ve taken up meditation, yoga, drink water like a camel AND find there’s more time in the day now to be productive.
Me time is now a hot bubble bath, a new book or magazine, trip to the gym or pedicure. With all that money we’re saving on wine, I don’t feel so guilty about the occasional splurge.
It also helps to focus on what I’ve gained, instead of what I’m giving up.
A real wakeup call is that my youngest, Zoe, 5, picked up on my challenge.
“Mommy, you aren’t drinking wine anymore are you?” she asked, while studying my face one morning at breakfast.
“Nope, mommy is on a break,” I replied.
“You look good, your teeth don’t look funny,” she said.
Truth be told, my teeth haven’t changed — I’m not really a red wine drinker. But I’m pretty sure I get where she was going with that remark.
I do look different these days. Yes, I have a new do, eyebrows and lashes, but my face is more refreshed.
So, for the big question. Will I go back to wine after the sun sets on my summer challenge?
I’m taking this sobriety thing one day, one season, at a time..
If you’re in the same boat and are worried that your alcohol consumption is becoming a habit, there are lots of online quizzes that can indicate if you’re in the danger zone.
Just keep in mind, an online test is only one measure – only you know deep down if it’s time to call it quits or give your liver a vacation.
Sometimes you just need a little break to reset your mind, body and soul.
Who knows, you might actually surprise yourself and enjoy the challenge. I know I sure am. Cheers!