Firstly thank you so much for the comments and the support on Friday when I bared my confused soul to the universe regarding craving drinking due to stress kids cause. Of course the kids don't often directly cause the stress, but the worry of parenting for me, does. I find trying to be a proper parent overwhelming, I have no real frame of reference and I know for me, whilst its important to be a good parent, I try often, very very hard and it makes me quite stressed and possibly, if I'm truthful, even more resentful to my own parent for my crappy upbringing.
So having bared my 'I want to drink, this being a parent is too hard', soul to you all, I spent the next part of Friday night in the car with a mocktail, being driven to pick them both up. Feeling very sub-versive, raspberry ginger mocktail in hand, calming the nerves. But, we had a lovely time. And guess what. I was present for my kids the whole time. From the minute they arrived hours late on the train (more mocktail time), to the awkward, what do we do now we're this late (takeaway) and the yes this 'pish' in the fridge (their words not mine) is alcohol free cider/beer/wine and there's juice galore, fill your boots. Its what we have in, there is no alcohol. And, so they did. Reading labels and pffting at the 0% on the bottles. Everyone settled into just 'being' and it was nice.
Yes I was anxious, probably as I have ever been without my 'mother's little helper' of a G&T to take the edge off. But, hey I'm daring to be sober.
It was, I have to say a good weekend. Not without stress (mostly mine) and a lot of chat and catching up. For once, when I felt a bit anxious, I just said to my husband, this is freaking me out a bit. And, he advised to 'chill' (why is it that to be calm one has to be cold?) and go with the flow. So we did. And I trusted him to keep me right. He was my rock.
And the weekend rumbled along, kids up late, me up early (like 7.30 am on both mornings) I just pottered, walked the dogs, collected some free wood and left the stove on for when they did surface. Watching the two kids natter and have brekkie on the sofa, at 11 am whilst I pottered in the garden was good. They had some time, I had some time. I've accepted I don't need to be all things and all-singing-mother-earth at all times. In truth I think, I just relaxed a bit. They accepted me being out at ungodly-o-clock as part of my charm, and I accepted that we weren't eating breakfast together that day. No perfect all sitting around the table, with a home-made feast. Just normal stuff.
I think sometimes the pressure we give ourselves to be the perfect parent cripples our inner self. So I dared to be a bit more me, the sober me I've recently met. And, just because there wasn't a hand made breakfast feast, with hand squeezed juices, and there wasn't a smiley mother in an apron in the kitchen, standing by the range tending to her offspring, no one actually died.
(Mother was actually in the garden, enjoying herself whilst the young folks got themselves sorted).
Odd really, giving yourself permission to live and breath like a normal human being. I know as a parent myself I bent over backwards to try and make everything as perfect a parenting/child experience as I could sometimes. And, then of course tired, exhausted actually, a bit resentful sometimes, opening a bottle of wine made that go away for a while.
So what I learnt this weekend sober is that its OK to go with the flow. OK have plans but realistically, it often all goes pear shaped in a flash and new adventures happen. Like kids getting up late, later starts, later than late lunches which means you flop into a heap full to bursting from a really late lunch, when its really normal tea time. You play scrabble with the kids and natter instead of preparing that 'special meal' you've been planning. So, you lob an organic chicken in the oven at gone 7.30pm thinking, crap can we really do crackers, fake-christmas and all the trimmings at almost 10pm at night.
If everyone's up for it then yes, its OK to eat late, if you're hungry.
And they were, and it was fun, aside the stressy bit when I was nearly in tears thinking, am I this CRAP that I can't even get a dinner on the table in time. So I took myself off for a lovely sober bath whilst the kids sorted the dinner, listened to a podcast. I didn't give myself (too) hard a time. And it all tasted good. And sitting on the sofa in February wearing silly cracker hats was fine and fun in fact.
No lovely sober girl, instead of trying to be super-mum (who also secretly drinks) you sat down and spent time with the only home for a short while teenagers, who didn't actually mind eating a 'christmas' dinner on the sofa at gone 10 pm watching a movie. You didn't sneak off and drink, you did it all sober. And you kissed both kids good night, sober.
And, on Sunday we waited for breakfast until everyone was up. Enjoyed some family chat, finally eating at the kitchen table for the first time over the weekend, which was nice, but not necessary for all meals. I waved goodbye to the teenagers at train stations and thought to ourselves we had a good weekend.
Now, if I'd been drinking, my paranoia and self loathing would have bludgeoned me like a large pointy stick.
If I'd drank on the Friday night they arrived, I'd have tried too hard to make it all perfect. And the overwhelming pressure from that would have seen me drink some more and some more. Striving to be perfect.
I'm not perfect, but I am sober.
And daring to stay that way.
145 days today.
And after the marathon of shoddy meal planning and scrabble playing. A sober cuppa with some sober friends, a special treat to round off a lovely weekend. Mind on though, I might never want to eat again, so much food was consumed.
I think I'm learning, its OK to not be perfect. Its OK to feel stress and say, 'This is making me stressed, I'd hoped we'd have a nice dinner'. And its OK to accept help, delegate and bend the rules slightly, because looking after me, even with the folks I love the most in the universe, is important. Underwhelm is also important, it keeps me sober.
Sober first, always.