Thursday, October 1, 2009

Mommy needs a drink

I have always been a teetotaller,  from my college nights through my big 4 consulting days.  That is until I had children.  

It started with my daughter's all nighters followed by the all day efforts to seem conscious at work.  I started to swipe small doses of my husband's coffee just to see what it was like, and honestly it was pretty friggin fantastic. I had more energy than the electric company, and that kind of high end coherence is addictive.  So much so that I ratcheted my intake up to 3 or 4 cups a day and began requesting Starbucks gift cards for all occasions.  

And then of course came the accompanying shakes, as well as the stress from trying to manage-while-conscious a husband, 2 children, a cat, mortgage payments, a career, and being a decent person most days.  My insomnia returned full force, and after several nights I was desperate.  Nothing worked, not even Benadryl.  Enter alcohol, which had a wonderful way of taking of the day's edge as well AND rendering me unconscious.  I'd have a drink, nurse the baby, and then we would both take a nap.   I could manage to my days and nights, my tired past and (hopefully) restful future. 

And so my caffeine and cocktails got me through two children, nursing, and being a working mom.  All was well until I lost my job last December.  Three weeks later, my son was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.  Shortly afterwards I went on Zoloft.  You see, coffee and booze helped when I needed to manage my sleep because a baby was always crying and waking me up. It did not help when I woke up because I was crying; nope, that is what Zoloft is for, and thank goodness for it.  Taking the meds does not prohibit me from indulging in either, but it is not recommended, and honestly I was uncomfortable having too many competing influences in my bloodstream.  

Fast forward to today, and more than 10 months have past.  I am still unemployed; helping my son has become a full time job, one I am proud to do.  He is making much progress and getting lots of help from people I know and work with closely.  In addition to his incredible physical advances, my son is so much happier and more independent than he was last year.  He is one of those super charismatic kids that everyone can't help but notice, with a cheerful energy that just lights a room. It wasn't always like this; there was a time when he could not be put down for more than 5 minutes at a time without screaming bloody murder.  Today, if I put him down for 5 minutes he scoots straight for the stairs and determinedly climbs higher and higher chanting "Up, up!!".

In fact, it seems like my entire family is moving on up.  On the first day of school, I was there holding my daughter's hand. We eat a home cooked meal most nights, and the kids are eating every night by 5:30.  All the details of our previously running on empty lives seem more manageable.  We don't run out of diapers or wipes.  Packing lunches is less of a hassle.  There is a lot less dry cleaning.  

I don't know when I will go back to work; the market stinks and honestly I am much needed here at home.  My life has changed in ways I never anticipated, and my routines have changed with it. That said, I am rarely drinking coffee or alcohol but miss it every morning and evening, especially on the rougher days.  Every "Mommy I hate you" makes me gaze longingly at the wine, and each nap strike is just one step away from the Dunkin Donuts. I still have bouts of insomnia and irritability, and my life is far from perfect.

Despite this, I feel better than I have in a long, long time.  I am no longer jonesing between stimulants and depressants; I do not have to choose between conference calls and parent teacher conferences.  I set my own priorities, and while there is a financial price that comes with this, the overall rewards are exceptionally gratifying. For the first time, I am living my life in the present and I am celebrating the moments of my life.


  1. I'm glad to hear that life feels so much more in balance. You're doing a great job! (I'm especially impressed by the homecooked dinners. Does microwaving chicken nuggets count? How about if they're organic?)

    - Laura

  2. Thanks, Laura. On many a day, microwaving chicken nuggets count, big time :)

  3. Julie, thanks for sharing your struggles and triumphs so honestly. It's so good to hear that you're feeling good, after weathering all of the changes the past year has brought.