I gave up booze for Lent.
This may not seem like a big deal, but believe you me, over here, it’s HUGE. Kinda like Willy Wonka giving up sugar. Ok. Maybe not quite that big, but very, very close.
Folks, I can drink like it’s my job. This may be because, for quite a while, it was part of my job: Show up at bar. Play set. Drink beer. Play set. Drink beer. Go home. Repeat. Or it may be because, after that job, my next job was Mommying: Keep five small people alive and out of jail for twelve hours. Cook dinner. Drink wine. Finally put kids to bed. Drink wine. Put kids back to bed. Drink wine. Go to sleep. Repeat. See how they’re similar?
I haven’t ever gotten in any trouble, and I can count on one hand the number of terrible hangovers I’ve had in my life. Still, I know from experience that those box wine makers are not appealing to their audience when they advertise “One box stays fresh for 6 weeks.” I’d need a closet full to last that long. So, while I wouldn’t call myself an alcoholic, I’d say I’m a professional drinker.
There are those of you reading this, thinking, “That woman has a problem.” And then there are those of you I actually hang out with. Kidding. The point is, I know I’m not alone. It’s become a Thing. There are cocktail playdates, and beer at kindergartener’s birthday parties. There is even a whole genre of blogs for sober moms. Believe me. I’ve looked. And while I’m not ready to jump on the sober bandwagon just yet, I was a little concerned about just how quickly that box of wine was disappearing. So I decided to give it up. For forty days. And blame it on religion.
It’s not been
quite as hard as I feared. Day One was a breeze. I was all pumped up on how good and healthy and holy I was being. I’d laid in an enormous stock of tea and seltzer water. I had a lot of trouble sleeping, but I wasn’t as tired the next day as I should have been. Score. Day Two and Three were a little more challenging. I kept looking forward to pouring a glass of wine and then remembering that I don’t do that anymore. Damn. Since then it’s been relatively easy, save for a rough patch every night around six and the few times I’ve argued with my husband or had to endure a particularly onerous hour of parenting.
I think I’m figuring out how this works. Wine has become my on-switch for relaxation. Day over = hit from the Bota Box. Panic ensuing = hit from the Bota Box. The very hardest thing about this whole Lenten Discipline has been figuring out how to trigger that relax switch without hitting the Bota Box. Or anyone else, of course.
It wasn’t always this way. I drank exactly two times before I turned twenty-one. I barely drank in college. My first hangover was September 12th, 2001, but I think that one gets a pass. Everyone in America was hungover that day. I didn’t really start drinking until I had kids. And then I was just an amateur until Kid Number Three. I joke that the more kids you have, the earlier you can start drinking. But it’s only kind of a joke. ‘Cause lets face it, when you have five kids, three of them fresh out of pull-ups, a glass of wine starts sounding really good around 11am. After all, by eleven you’ve already dressed four people, made seven breakfasts, five snacks, rinsed out ten sippy cups, refereed umpteen squabbles, mopped up pee, wiped off blood, run two loads of laundry, swung between feeling like the world’s best mother and the world’s worst, questioned your life-path, and explained long division. That my friends, is a full day’s work – all before lunch. So I get daytime drinking, I really do. I can’t afford it, but I get it.
My own wine habit seems to be just that, a habit, mixed with a strong distaste for abandoning the horse I rode in on. In other words, once a drop of wine hits that glass, it won’t be empty until I’m in bed. In fact, I often wake up to a slightly evaporated and very acrid glass of wine on my bedside table. Lord knows how many wasted bottles I’ve dumped down the drain at 7am because of this. So, if for no other reason, I had to take a little break to avoid wasting all that perfectly good vino.
Here’s the crazy thing: I expected to feel better, and I do. I expected to sleep better, and I do (after that first night). I expected my kids to notice, and they HAVEN’T. What? Not once, during dinner or our nightly Leverage viewing have my kids remarked on my can of LaCroix or my cup of tea. No one at all, except for me, seems to realize that the ever present box of wine is gone. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled. I’m just surprised. Here I was, worried I was the world’s biggest lush, ruining my kids lives – setting them up to be alcoholics, and they are OBLIVIOUS.
Mike tells me that the unwritten rule of Lent is that you are allowed to take Sundays off. After nearly two weeks dry as the Biblical desert, I decided 2 million Episcopalians can’t be wrong. It was wonderful. That crisp cold white exploding on my tongue. My lazy indifference to the pile of dinner dishes in the sink. But still, (I cannot believe I am saying this) I woke up this morning glad that it was Monday. I guess miracles still happen. Happy Lent.