Today my 8 year old son shut his hand in the car door. He screamed, I froze and my husband flicked the child lock off to release the mangled digits. His fingers were as bruised as a rotten banana. Poor boy. Then the baby poked a twig in his eye. He cried blood like an evil doll from a crap 80’s horror film... My husband is now in the emergency department with my four year old daughter. No lie. She has swallowed a small rusty bell. This has all happened since 4pm. My Saturday was pretty normal until then. I’d done the shop, picked up 500 wet towels that had been randomly plopped in piles around the house...I’d even scraped the burnt cheese off the stove. I was doing well at mumming. I’m surprised a small blue bird didn’t swoop down, land on my Index finger and sing me a happy little tune. Then, after a trip to the park and an argument over which child had the biggest chip, the hand crushing incident occurred. It was bad but not life changing. I thought there would be squirty blood and sticky out bones but there was only bruises and pale cheeks. The baby got over ‘twig in eye’ after some kisses and a nap, but the bell in neck scenario is yet to be resolved. She’s in A& E having an X-ray as I write. They need to check it’s not stuck in a lung or lodged somewhere it shouldn’t be. I did shake her before she left, to see if I could hear it,but the sound of her shouting ‘please stop shaking me mummy’ drowned out any ringing noise. I can’t sleep. I’m worried and feeling bad that i’m at home with the other two and not at the hospital with her. But when you have more than one kid you have to take turns in stepping up and helping out. It got me thinking about how I would have dealt with this cacophony of calamity three years ago? Note: now do a wobbly dance like you’re going back in time. On a Saturday afternoon at 4pm three years ago I would have either been cracking open a beer or still hiding in my bottomless pit of self hatred and hangovery horribleness. Too drunk to drive my precious daughter to the hospital or too sick to be of use in any way whatsoever. I’d have said ‘you take her’ to my husband. I’d have been unavailable. Guilt would have nibbled at my soul until the sun came up on Monday. I’d have stayed in bed hoping my child was ok but be quietly pleased that I could ride out my hangover in peace. Truthfully, My hang over would have taken precedence over my child. I was selfish like that. My pain and anxiety blocked my senses. All that mattered,in that post pissed state., was me. My panic, my fear, my headache.
No one warned me that when you become a mum everything goes from being about beers and casual decisions to fear and major events. Everything was suddenly about them. Their needs over mine. Their fun over my hangover. I went from being a carefree back packer (who'd been on the road for far too long) to a supposedly, responsible parent. It was a huge shock to my system.
I had to take care of these babies, keep them alive, I had to clean them, feed them and read ‘ where is the green sheep’ 45 times. I had to wake up when they did, sleep when I could and tell them everything they ever did was brilliant. I even made time to do smug Facebook updates, pack endless snacks and fight my way out of plastic ball pits.
Time for me became impossible. Motherhood was all consuming. Relentless. But, I did it, I got on with it, I rode the wave of monumental change to the shore. I couldn’t have achieved any of it drunk, but I did manage to do it tipsy.
Then because I'd gotten away with tipsy for a while, I raised the stakes and my drinking became harder and heavier than ever before. I wasn't drinking every night but was making excuses by Wednesdays.The gaps inbetween binges accentuated my indulgence, resulting in more headaches and more questions.
In the end it got out of control.
I had to change, I knew it I had no choice. I needed to stay home and cook spaghetti. But quitting the only thing your good at isn't easy.
I ploughed on, serving dollops of bolognaise with one hand and pouring wine down my throat with the other. My two existences curdled like sour milk. They wouldn’t mix no matter how hard I stirred. Drinking and parenting were not compatible. I started to suffer from bad panic attacks and blubbed for hours as two Alka Seltzas fizzed in my red plastic beaker.
'How come everyone else can do this and I cant?'
Over time, (4years of parenting and binge drinking) I became aware that something was askew. Sharing my life with different entities was never going to blend no matter how hard I tried. I became curious about my drinking because I couldn’t think about myself anymore. Those mini humans that had moved in to my house ruined my ability to be selfish. A day like today - drunk or hung over - would have resulted in a divorce or a government sectioning. The shit would have hit the potty and I would have been guiltily clearing up buckets of regret for weeks afterwards. But, this is not three years ago, this is today , 2 years sober. Today I cuddled my son and held a bag of ice on his fingers and told him it would be ok, I wiped blood from the babies eye with a cotton wool ball and sang him a funny song then I cried big blobby tears holding my daughter as she told me she thought she was going to die when the little bell lodged in her throat. I can’t fathom what these three accidents would have entailed if I’d been drinking. It doesn’t bare thinking about. It would have been a mess, a big shit storm of shame and mothers guilt.
My family became more important than my drinking habit. It was a choice. Be drunk or be part of something true. I want us to make it. I want us to thrive. I can’t risk drinking again. I can’t risk not being there when they need me. So, think of me tomorrow in all my self righteous non- hungover glory, leaning over the toilet with a sieve trying to find that pesky little bell. Another Sunday spent hunched over a toilet..not that much has changed after all.... Esmeraldaaaa! Update. The X-ray didn’t show the bell and incredibly, they found that my four year old has a brain and a beating heart? Amazing! I thought both those things had dissolved when she turned three, along with her ability to listen to anything I say, ever. Anyway.. my kids survived the weekend. #Winning
Note - pic is of me in the hospital about to push a Blimp out of my poonanee. Good times.