Everyone deserves a boozy night out once in a while. Especially parents. However, as every parent knows, drinking once you have children comes with consequences. Being responsible for another human being when you enjoy one too many cocktails diminishes in direct proportion to the libation(s) consumed. While I hesitate to compare the stages of loss and grief to a hangover, I found myself going through similar phases after a recent night out with friends.
The stages of hungover parenting:
1. Denial: This stage comes in hot. You open one bloodshot eye and realize with panic that it is Saturday and you cannot call in sick. The kids have descended into your bed. You foolishly think some Advil and a can of Coke will make it all go away. It’s not that bad, right? Then you turn your head too fast, vomit in your mouth a bit, and pray the floor opens up and swallows you whole. Unless you live in an area prone to sinkholes, you realize this isn’t likely.
2. Embarrassment: Embarrassment can quickly follow Denial when your oldest child asks you why you slept with a half-eaten Chalupa from Taco Bell. It’s best to draw attention away from yourself immediately and demand they go finish their homework. It’s Saturday, they remind you. DAMN YOU SATURDAY!
3. Anger: Take precautions to get out of this phase as quickly as possible. While it feels good to ponder the 496 ways you would murder the bartender who over-served you, she is not the enemy. The Lego you stepped on did not thrust itself into your path on purpose. That wall didn’t walk into you. And it’s your fault you decided to have children in the first place, so cursing their existence will prove useless.
4. Bargaining: Trying to rationalize with children is futile in most situations. Rationalizing when you can barely form a sentence, let alone an argument, is ill advised. Please also note that children, like dogs, can sense weakness and will likely test the waters. Please accept that if they do this while you are in the bargaining phase, they will eat a Snickers bar for breakfast. No child, to my knowledge, has ever been permanently scarred from this. That Snickers bar can buy you precious time on the couch to rock back and forth in the fetal position.
5. Sighing: This stage is sighing. Just a shitload of sighing.
6. Depression: At this stage, self-pity is taken to a new level. It is when you realize there are still 11 hours left in the day and your children will be awake for the majority of them. Sadness clings to you like your pre-pregnancy jeans. It’s OK to cry. You consider driving to procure yourself a chocolate shake. You realize you could potentially go to jail for driving under the influence if you get pulled over. You cry some more.
7. Acceptance: After all of the yelling and crying and pleading and sighing, you finally come to the conclusion that today is not your day. You brought this on yourself. It’s time to pull up your big girl panties and be a parent. From the couch. While still in your pajamas. Having pizza delivered for all 3 meals. Counting the seconds until bedtime. Swearing off alcohol for as long as you live. And additional children.