After the disaster of our first holiday Mr M and I decided to be spontaneous (in as much as you can be with twins which realistically means planning in minute detail) and go out for dinner last Friday night. Just the two of us together having warm food, conversation and wearing clean(ish) clothes. We try to have one ‘date’ evening a week but recently his shifts have meant that timing hasn’t been on our side so I was excited about the notion of adult interaction and wearing a pair of heels.
Ever the gentleman Mr M drove which allowed me to indulge in a glass of wine. Now I should just admit that I’ve been known to being partial to a tipple or two in my time. There isn’t much I can’t drink nowadays (except sherry. And vodka. And sambucca. And JD. All bring back fairly horrific lack of memories) so I thought I’d take the opportunity to enjoy a little drink. Which was followed by another. Mr M asked if I wanted to go to our local pub only a five minute walk away from home and by now, feeling loosened of my stresses from that week I thought why not?! Whereupon I had another wine and returned home to then have another glass. I should state that the girls were in bed and had been babysat whilst we were out so were snug and safe the whole time.
Mr M had obviously picked up on how low I’d been feeling post holiday and offered to do the night duty should the girls stir which, in my wine hazed state felt like winning some sort of drunk parent championship medal. What I’d forgotten is that wine can make you feel a very many number of things but can not in fact make you temporarily lose your hearing. Especially not hearing the crying of one slightly less constipated daughter. It was a restless night involving sweating, swearing and a bleary eyed hunt for pain relief at 4am to fend off the encroaching headache.
When I finally emerged from my turbulent night it was with a dry mouth, bleary eye, thumping head and ‘the fear’. For those of you who haven’t encountered the ‘fear’ it’s that feeling of overwhelming anxiety which cripples you as soon as you wake up from a night on the beers. My friends and I commonly discuss our problem with the ‘fear’ and what the effects of alcohol may have prompted us to do or say whilst under its influence. The first time I spent a weekend away from the twins the ‘fear’ lasted for two weeks. I knew when that feeling hit me I was in for a rough ride.
Now I had only seen and spoken to Mr M, who reassured me repeatedly that I had nothing to be fearful of but once the anxiety hits it’s nearly impossible to shake. What’s more I also had a new feeling of shame and that really knocked me. In fact I spent most of the next day secretly crying about my appalling behaviour and the poor example I’d set to my children. Ironically they seemed to neither care nor notice the difference in my slightly hungover parenting skills but I was very conscious not to breathe on them just in case my Pinot Grigio fogged breath knocked them for six. The rest of the weekend was spent cursing myself for losing a night of precious sleep I could ill afford and thinking about how different things have become now I have entered my motherhood years.
I want to be very clear now that I in no way judge mums who go out, or stay in for that matter and enjoy a glass of something, whatever that something may be. However I do judge myself. I genuinely felt quite embarrassed that I’d drunk too much, that I’d somehow besmurched the family name in the process and that my friends were unlikely to forgive me (although I still have no idea what I would be asking forgiveness for: I’m sure it’s lapsed Catholic guilt).
I think what I’ve come to realise over these past months is that the things I used to do or seemingly enjoy (like having a few too many glasses of vino) suddenly no longer hold the appeal they did. That although as sensible as it sounds I don’t really miss the opportunity to chuck anything semi flammable presented in a glass down my throat and only remember it coming back up the next morning. In fact I’d go so far as to say I’ve been happier not drinking alcohol (although let’s not get too hasty and confirm my tee total status just yet).
I guess what it shows me more than anything is that maybe I’ve finally grown up. At 35 it’s clearly about time but it’s no longer about me and my needs and it most certainly is about making sure I can be the best role model I can be. That might not mean being tee total but it definitely means not waking up wondering if you offended half of the locals or if you’ve given your husband legitimate grounds for divorce. So if you see me raise my glass in the near future make sure to check I’ve stuck to apple juice and left the cider to the big boys. At least until the bubbles arrive…