I like beer. Revise. I love beer or as I refer to it: “God’s Nectar”. When I walk into a restaurant and see someone drinking a beer, my mouth waters a little bit. When I run in to get some tomatoes from the grocery store, I find myself perusing through the beer section just to see what seasonals are out. True story. I think I left out I leave with a couple six packs…. every time.
Beer reminds me of growing up. It portrays the essence of country living to me. When I think of home, beer is always in that vision. It’s the sun setting, friends laughing, music playing and a keg flowing. Red solo cups are a thing of beauty to me and personify fun, energy and life. Normally, just discussing this trip down memory lane would prompt me to attend a happy hour to keep the nostalgia going. Not today. I’m doing this sober thing. Blah.
It’s times like these that I need to remind myself why I’m doing this sober thing and shunning what I deem “God’s Nectar” from my life. Remind myself that this nectar doesn’t nourish– ironically, it sucks the life out of me. Remind myself.
My last drink resulted from a family day. Yep, tag me #1 Mom — I know. So we’re at the river — soaking in the sun, floating in the banks, drinking a few beers. Did I mention a few doesn’t always constitute three for me? Hours later after drinking my weight in ounces, accompanied by an ice chest full of unopened water bottles and empty beers cans, I make my way out of the water. That is about the last clear thing I remember until I woke up that night at 9 p.m. I start trying to piece together the ride home and rest of the day before I made it to my bed. How did I even get in my bed? Turns out the group I was with, including my kiddos, stopped to get a bite to eat and I– for the first time in my life– was refused service. Yep, a friend ordered me a beer and the waitress kindly singled me out stating that she could not serve me. Super classy… definitely of my shining moments. While recounting the story, my children were quick to include the stumbling and inability to walk a straight line. Yikes. Grade A examples for the kiddos there, I know.
So, my reaction?
Inside I was mortified– yet outside I forced myself to act like it wasn’t a big deal. I did it as a defense mechanism– I didn’t know how to react. I’ve always prided myself on the fact that I’m that person that you “can’t tell” has been drinking all day. I can handle my alcohol. I’m normal remember? This is not normal. This is a middle-aged mom acting like a unresponsible college kid with her kids watching and learning. Learning what constitutes a good time. At that moment I realized that while I continuously preach to my kids how irresponsible drinking leads to very serious consequences– I just gave them a first hand account. I humiliated myself because I didn’t control my drinking — and worse, I engrained that example in my kid’s memories.
I’ve always thought the mantra of “do as I say, not as I do” was bullshit. My parents said that to me all the time as a kid, never offering a justification for why they say not to do “bad” things but choosing to partake in them personally. As a kid I thought well of course I’m gonna try a cigarette, my mom smokes. Of course I’m gonna have an open container, my dad would have a koozie stashed in the car. You get my point. But as a kid, I always thought I would do better with my own. As a parent, I’d try to communicate a real example of life. I wouldn’t do one thing and HOPE my kids would do another.
This was different. I don’t want to HOPE they don’t get drunk in front of their children when they are parents and get refused service and totally humiliate themselves.
I want to be able to say they wouldn’t do that because I taught them better. I want them to have a normal view of alcohol– not this view of it being a borderline love affair. I don’t want them to inherit this slanted view of alcohol that I am haunted with and end up enthralled in a struggle with sobriety. I want to say that I raised them better than that.
But have I? Probably not. Despite my high hopes, I realize that I am raising them exactly how I was raised. Drinking is the norm and it is a staple to a good time. I just included all the other bells and whistles I didn’t have: one-on-one attention, family vacations, extracurricular sports… but I have failed at the one thing that matters the most. That day I faced the dark reality that I’m setting them up for failure.
I realized that in truth, I’m never without a drink in my hand when I’m relaxing and having a good time. It’s just that I would still act “normal” — or “functional”? It took me being completely wasted to see that I’ve been parenting with the same bullshit theme of “Do as I say, not as I do”. At that realization, I would be a completely shitty reproductive unit if I turned a blind eye and didn’t attempt to fix my actions. So I tried to. I decided I would try sobriety (again). And I did what my parents never did– I apologized. I told my kids what a misstep it was and how irresponsible. I made a choice that day to be a better mother.
They deserve a fighting chance.
They deserve a better example.