I stand in my kitchen evaluating my choices: Do I want a glass of Pinot or a cocktail? A shot of tequila or swig of beer? Or should I stick with spiked seltzer, my favorite? It’s fruity and light. Like liquored up LaCroix. But in the end, my decision is (almost always) made for me. I look at dinner, at whatever I’m stirring on the stove or roasting in the oven, and I pair accordingly. Then I move, drink in hand, from the kitchen to the dining room. I relax with an alcoholic drink. And while I do not do this every evening — I don’t drink to cope with life or escape it, and I never use liquor to numb out — I do enjoy adult beverages. And no, I’m not ashamed.
Of course, I know what you’re thinking: You’re probably already rolling your eyes. I can sense the judgement in the air. You may be thinking “how disgusting. What an embarrassment. This woman is a lush. She obviously has a problem.” And you’re probably ready to lecture me or, at the very least, go on a keyboard crusade. Well, that or you’re sipping Chardonnay and nodding alongside of me. You’re waiting to see where this article goes. But before you bash me for my dinnertime drink, let me give you some background.
I am a mother and a freelance writer, one whose days are demanding. I wake well before dawn to care for my youngest, my sweet-but-restless baby boy. I start work by 6 a.m. My son watches “Thomas the Tank Engine,” or “choo-choos,” while I edit articles and sip coffee on the couch. By 7 a.m., I am readying my oldest for school. She’s seven, and some days we are headed into the building, while others she is virtual. I am setting up a small classroom-like space in her bedroom, with books and folders, erasers, tablets, white boards, and pens. After getting her started, I return to work. I walk around the house with my laptop, writing in moments of downtime — in the moments when my son isn’t screaming or crying or doing Evil Knievel-like stunts off the side of the couch.
But that’s not all: When I have a break, I work out. I’m an avid runner and usually spend my lunch on the street. I answer emails from my phone, corresponding with colleagues and editors most hours of most days. I have to do boring, blasé things, like chores and budgets. There are dishes to be washed. Clothes to be folded and cleaned. Sometimes the only “me time” I get is in the kitchen when I cook dinner, and I like to destress and decompress in those moments — do something that makes me feel like myself.
And for me? That involves listening to music, sipping on an adult beverage, and pretending I’m on the beach, not stuck inside with screaming children in the cold northeast. This relaxes me. It settles me. It helps me realign my focus, calming my heart and thoughts.
Is it a vice? Sure. It’s like smoking, vaping, or consuming too much caffeine. There are no physical benefits to my drinking. But the pendulum has swung so far in the other direction — we’ve become so critical of moms who imbibe, or drink — that there is seemingly no in-between. You are either sober or a you’re boozer.
But there is a gray area. Really, there is. And it’s time we realize some women wind down with wine, and that’s okay. A glass here or there is not cause for concern. It also doesn’t make us bad people, or bad parents. My occasional dinnertime drink doesn’t make me a bad mom.
Make no mistake: Excessive drinking is a problem. Alcoholism is an illness — a very real and tangible illness — and it is not something to scoff at or minimize. My husband is a recovered alcoholic, and has been for six years. As such, I’ve seen the effects of addiction firsthand. I know the damage these substances can do to loved ones and those they live with. I also know that not everyone chooses to imbibe. Some people do not like the taste of alcohol, or the effects. Others avoid the substance for religious reasons, and others just don’t want to touch it. And that’s fine. All of these reasons are valid and normal. Not drinking is perfectly okay.
But enjoying adult beverages is okay too, and you don’t have to be ashamed if you’re a parent who drinks — no matter what the internet tells you.