Bottom’s Up

It’s Tuesday, and the house is quiet and empty for the first time since last Thursday. Finally. All the kids are off at daycare for at least a few hours and I have some time to catch up on everything and attempt to get some real work done, which I keep avoiding. But first I need to catch my breath, reflect, and write for a few minutes before resuming my daily domestic duties and my daunting job assignment…

My toddlers love to crawl around the house on their hands and feet with their little bottoms sticking straight up in the air, pretending their puppies and barking. It’s so darn cute. They’re so cute and playful, and so simply entertained. Why can’t life still be that easy and pleasurable as adults?

The scars I have from life’s battles and the constant stress I’m under to “be all and do all” have driven me into such a state of anxiety that my version of ‘bottom’s up’ has progressed from enjoying a glass of wine or two with good food and good company to sucking a bottle of wine on my own before bedtime. For some reason, I have the notion that this is what relieves my stress and makes me feel better. Until, of course, I wake up the next morning with more pain and regret than I started with before my first sip the night before. There is a parallel in the gradual progression of how much I’m drinking and how badly I feel about myself. A positive correlation, if you will, yet with extremely negative consequences.

My ‘recovery friend’ (who I haven’t exactly admitted the extent of my problem to, though I’m sure she suspects there’s more to what I asked her) was explaining to me that alcoholism is a progressive disease.   When I Googled it later, I came across an article that began with the following introduction:

“Alcoholism is a disease of the body, thinking, emotions and spirit. Progressive damage to these four aspects interact in various ways such that a person is increasingly compelled to drink. Also, once drinking starts they cannot ‘always’ guarantee when they will stop or how much they will drink.”

I continued to read the rest of the article and, to put it lightly, it scared the pants off my … eghm… bottom!

And speaking of bottoms, I’m not sure if I’ve hit rock bottom but I do know that if I haven’t yet, I sure as hell don’t want to. I’ve heard heartbreaking stories about my brother’s darkest moments during his battle with the disease (that he ultimately lost). It was disturbing and devastating for so many.

The reasons to quit and the reasons worth living and living well far outweigh the ‘excuses’ I keep making for having my first sip each day. I want my beautiful babies to grow up in a warm, happy, and healthy environment where they can keep sticking their sweet little bottoms up in the air and wagging them like excited little puppies. I don’t want their childhood memories to include ‘mommy with a glass of wine in her hand every night’ the way I sometimes remember my mother (and always remember my sister with a drink in her thermos). There’s only going to be one kind of bottoms up in the house, and it’s not going to be my wine glass’ anymore!!!

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Wine not?

Whether it’s used as a question or statement, I’m finding myself saying this an awful lot lately.  I go back and forth constantly with whether or not I should continue my almost-nightly habit of drinking wine while trudging through the evening routine of homework (yes, with a 4yr. old), dinner, baths, TV, and bedtime with my three kids between the ages of 6mo-4yrs.  Just saying that makes me want to take (another) sip!  There, I said it.

So “Why Not?” have a glass of wine to unWINEd and get through these crazy, fun, and/or stressful evenings?  Or should I ask, “WINE NOT?”  Every morning I promise myself, “I won’t have any tonight.”  Then every evening, after the kids are all home safely and at least 2 of the 3 are whining at the same exact time, I throw my hands up and say, “Why Not?” and begin pouring.  Yes, sometimes I literally throw my hands up (I’m part Italian).  From the little bit of blog-reading I’ve done on this topic so far, I’ve learned that some refer to this as a f*ck-it moment.  Yup, sounds aboouut right.

Right now it’s 10:30 pm and I’m thinking aboutthe past couple days.  Until now, my last sip was Saturday night.  It’s now Monday night and I’m having my first glass instead of my 3rd or 4th by now.  I didn’t even pour the first sip until 10pm, after everyone was in bed and I was ready to (FI-NAL-LY) sit down for some quiet time to myself.  I’m feeling half regret, and half proud that I’ve made it this far,  And I know I won’t have more than a glass or two since I’m just about ready for bed.  So on nights like this, when I can be more controlled with the timing and limit the amount, I ask myself Why Not? instead of saying Wine Not!  Which leads to some reflecting on this matter in the form of Pros & Cons (I’m a lists person).

WHY NOT Have A Glass? (i.e., f*ck it)
1)  It helps me relax.
2) It tastes sooo good.
3) It takes the edge off the hard work and whining that comes with managing 3 young kids (often alone).
4) It’s mine and the kids can’t have it.
5) I can really limit myself to only having one or two glasses tonight.  I just know it.
6) It makes me feel happy and tingly inside.
7) I temporarily forget about my troubles (or just not give shit, for the moment).
8) I have a bar in my house that is fun to use.
9) It’ll help my mind stop racing so I can finally fall asleep.
10) Because I can, and I want to, damnit.

Hmmm.  My intention with this post was to also reflect on the reasons Wine Not! to do it… but apparently I’m in the mood to sip 1-2 glasses (only!) and get some sleep.  I’m exhausted and have a very busy week ahead of me.

And so it goes…

Tangled Webs

I’ve been looking after my mother’s house while she’s out of town for an extended period of time.  She’s done this to me a lot over the years, so it’s nothing new.  It’s a sweet little house with a lovely patio.  But until today, you could barely walk or sit anywhere because it was so cluttered with fake plants of all sizes, dusty old candles, and cobwebbed children’s toys that were salvaged from garage sales so my kids could have something fun to play with at Grammy’s.  Sadly, I’ve never once seen my kids play outside there.  And the yard was looking like an overgrown jungle, if that’s even possible.  Even the spiders were so freaked out by the outdoor jungle that they started seeking shelter in the fake plants on the patio, alongside the lizards.  Poor little guys.

I woke up tired and hungover again today after another ‘wine night’ (that sounds a bit more classy and a less self-destructive than booze binge, don’t ya think?).  I’ve been trying to limit these occurrences but almost every day, after I’m home for the night with the kids, I uncork and unWINEd.  I hide some of it from my husband, finding clever and deceptive ways to cover up how much I’m actually drinking.  He knows I have some wine most nights – we even laugh about it sometimes.  And occasionally he’ll join me for a glass with dinner, or have his own whiskey cocktail or two.  Nothing wrong with that, right?  With three kids ages 4 and under, what parents don’t need some escape?  Right?  The truth is he has no idea I’ve throwing back a bottle of wine – more often give than take – almost every night.  Ouch.  When I actually say it that way, my head starts hurting and my liver starts telling me to run to the doctor.

So I clearly wasn’t feeling so great this morning, but convinced myself I was just exhausted from staying up late with the baby and getting up early with the kids.  Oh, and apparently my new melatonin supplements give me hangovers.  Ha, good one.  But I forced myself to go to my mother’s empty house and  take matters into my own hands, whether she likes it or not.  Besides, she’s not around to tell me what to do and I’m the one taking care of things.  So at her expense, my yard guys spent two full days there and it looks great.  Now it was my turn to completely clean and declutter the patio.  I moved things around, threw some nasty stuff away, killed every spider I met, swept every inch of the floor and corners full of cobwebs, and made friends with a few lizards (those I don’t kill; I just pretend to try to catch them even though I’m too chicken and let them get away).  Over two hours later, it looked great and I felt really good about that.  I was proud of myself for pushing through and making a positive change today.  And then it hit me.

I realized what I was doing was trying to take control.  Over everything.  Past, present, future.  Ok, this isn’t really that shocking since I’m already a self-proclaimed control-freak.  But there was something about this moment that made me think a little more seriously about where this compulsion came from.  There are so many deep rooted issues in my family’s history it’s not even funny.  Actually, it’s so flippin’ hilarious it could easily become America’s next big dramady (drama? comedy?  you decide).  You seriously couldn’t make this juicy shit up.

But more on all that later.  For now, I’ve come to realize two critical things:

1) I DO NOT want to keep binge-drinking,  feeling like crap, and making excuses all the time.  I want to, and need to, become a better me, a better wife, and the best mom I can be.  I owe it to my childhood self (that dreamed of having the perfect family someday), and especially to my three perfect babies and loving husband, with all of his ‘perfect imperfections’ – ha.

2) It’s time I start sorting everything out, both figuratively and literally.  I need to better manage the stress and eliminate the dead weight in my life. Purge and revamp.  And through this process I need to start talking and telling my stories to sort it all out… and even laugh about it.  The memories, the experiences, the pain, the feelings, the dreams.  It’s not all bad.  In fact, I’m incredibly blessed and fortunate in so many ways.  But I need to start living my life accordingly, hold myself accountable, and find the silver linings.

So, it’s time.  Time to work through the tangled cobwebs and remove them from the dark corners so that each day is clearer, more meaningful, and happier than the last.

After all, it is October.