“I just need a break!” she yelled not at anyone in particular, but as a cry out of desperation. She grabbed the keys to the car and left the house while her husband bathed their almost 2-year-old right after he got home from work. She headed for the liquor store. It had been a long week of potty training, tantrums, whining, & crying and she needed a drink.
Her husband had off that Sunday so she took full advantage of having another parent in the house and she finished off a full bottle of whiskey over the course of the weekend BY. HER. SELF.
After that weekend she had the realization that she was using alcohol as a coping mechanism. She had “earned it” because she had a rough day, a rough month, at this point a rough 4 months since the loss of their second baby. It’s acceptable to have a glass (or two) of wine or “mommy juice” to unwind at the end of the day because - KIDS. So at that moment, she took full advantage of it. She had never been a big drinker, but lately, when she drank she did so with the intention of using it to make herself feel better.
The family vacation she took to Disney World, just three short weeks after their pregnancy loss was stressful, and her hormones were still all over the place so - yes please, another bottle BY. HER. SELF. over the week. She used alcohol to mask how terribly sad, miserable, and angry she really was. She was giggly and loud and fun when she was drinking in the evenings after the kids (their daughter and niece) went to sleep. During the day her truth came out in a hateful way, snippy and just angry all while at the “happiest place on earth” with their daughter for the first time.
She drank and indulged in the name of “self-care”. Self-care because it made her feel better in the moment because it took her razor-sharp thoughts of hopelessness and dulled them for at least a little while. Self-care because it was the only break she could get from my reality of being a stay at home mom with no escape or form of “me time” all while drowning in postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety.
She decided in April after her last bottle that it was time to handle her emotions like a big-girl and work through them instead of mask or numb them. That is SO MUCH easier said than done.
She didn’t drink from April until her birthday that autumn. She had a couple of drinks to celebrate with friends and family, not to hide how she was feeling. She was already happy and wasn’t using alcohol to make her happy. The rare occasion that she chooses to now have a glass of wine it is after she has inventoried her thoughts, feelings, emotions, as well as the reason behind her choice. If she is not in a good mental place (remembering that recently she had been comparing herself to someone else online, upset about a business decision, burnt out from being her child’s primary caregiver, etc.) she gladly chooses to just stick to water if she is not already in a good mental place.
This is not a post to shame anyone. This is a post to express that liquor and wine are being marketed to parents as a way to cope with their child(ren) and it is toxic. Instead of looking for tools to cope, and positive and healthy ways to handle stress we are told it’s ok to just numb our pain or discomfort. Let’s set an example for our child(ren) who we already expect to manage big emotions in a grown-up way. Let’s show them that there are other ways to cope with discomfort and pain (emotional and physical) and that they do not need to rely on substances. It has to be so much more than just our words, their little eyes see so much more than we often realize. We have to show them and equip them in ways we might not have been taught to.