Parenting is the equivalent of having an 18-year hangover. The symptoms are the same.
There’s vomit, there’s anxiety and you can’t wait for it to be over.
My hangovers were terrible. I drank heavy and fast, consuming more than most people, so I suffered. I’d lie in bed unable to move my head and I would spend my recovery trying to talk myself out of panic. I’d pad around the house in grubby tracksuit bottoms willing the sun to go down so I could sleep the pain away. I’d shut the blinds and hope to do better next time.
I feel the same way about parenting. It’s as relentless as a hangover. It drags, on and on. There is no sign of a pretty sunset here. In-fact, I forecast rain, especially as the dark cloud of the teenage years floats nearby.
If I could shut the blind on parenting, I would, just for a few hours. Just to get a bit of kip and a facial. Just so I can pop to the plaza to but some new clothes. My track suit pants, the ones that were saved for hangovers, have now become my daily wear. Their soft lining and holey crutch comfort me in the same way wine used to. Being comfortable has overtaken my need to be cool. I'm functional... but catwalk ready? Perhaps if ‘Dog walk prepared’ becomes a trend, then I’m ahead of the game.
When I drank, I was always trying new drinking techniques; Water between wines, lining my stomach with a carbohydrate filled meals before sessions, never mixing the grape and the grain. I was hoping I’d find the perfect formula so that I could become a better drinker. A drinker that didn’t suffer.
‘I will get better at this. I will find a way to be a good drinker, a controlled boozer that can party all night and never feel hungover!’
Of course, I never succeeded.
I’d try moderation, only to overdo it. I’d be at the bar getting into the vodka jellies while my friends were still staring at the wine list. If I promised to slow down, just have two. I’d find myself making excuses as to why ‘I deserved’ a third. And we all know what happens after a third..... total annihilation. Inhibition lost, self-care exterminated, and my knickers end up hanging off a chandelier somewhere near Piccadilly Circus.
I repeated the same mistakes for years.
My moderation challenges have spewed over into my mothering. I try moderating my anger and fail as soon as the TV is too loud. I try moderating my voice but growl when they discard the veg and are then demanding Cola icy poles.
I can’t moderate my love either. I’m overbearing. I want kisses, often and I squeeze them so hard sometimes that I feel like their eyeballs might just pop out of their tiny heads. I love them more than I loved booze, it's a different love, it’s real but these relationships have similarities.
My children make me happy like vodka did
and sad like gin.
They make me feel joy like the perfect peak after two cold chardonnays
and emotional, like too much red.
My love for my children makes the reigns tight. I'm over protective. I want them to live at home with me forever...My love for them is overwhelming. It hurts
When I think about my it too much, anxiety kicks in. Just like it used to on a dusty Sunday morning.
Being a parent is as frightening as a blackout. Motherhood makes me scared. I’m in a constant state of fear.
That fear triggers self doubt and not only does my brain jump to worst case scenario about my children... I also think own death more.
It stops me doing things I used to enjoy. I can’t go on rollercoasters, I don’t like boats that much, I can’t watch films in which children get kidnapped and I certainly wouldn’t go camping, too many snakes, fires and other weird antipodean deathtraps.
The children get confused about my love and my anxiety. The two are blurred. They can’t differentiate between me telling them off because I care or as they would put it,
being ‘A mean mummy.’
‘I’m not mean, I just love you so much’
My live shows it’s in anger,
I hear my voice echoing words from my own childhood,
‘Don’t jump off the couch, it’s dangerous’
‘Sit up when you’re eating, you’re going to choke to death’
‘You didn’t look when you crossed the road just then. You’re going to get run over!’
They don't know that mean mum is a result of love. They will have to wait until they have kids of their own until they understand that.
I can’t moderate in most areas of my life, it’s not just mumming. I promise to be vegan but before the animal kingdom lets out a communal cheer, I’m shoving slices of salami in my face.
I try to get fit and fart at yoga. I get camel toe sweat at boxing and I look like David Brent when I do Zumba. I tend to go all or nothing in sport. Mostly nothing. Either I’m doing it or I’m sitting on the couch munching on some chocolate covered pretzels feeling guilty. No in-between. No moderation.
And then there’s sleep, or the lack of it. When I was a boozer I didn’t sleep. I used to lie awake with my heart pounding as sugar pumped through my veins. I used to feel grumpy and tired for days after as my body recovered from the battering it had taken. Sometimes if felt like my sleep mechanism wasn’t working. The thing in my body that switched me off was broken and no matter how desperate I was to nod off, the hangover wouldn’t let me. Booze punished me for over doing it.
Sleeping and parenting aren't great buddies either. I’m up early doing lunches and burning raisin toast whether or not I have slept a wink. I can’t lie in bed. There's shit to do.
My general state is that of someone that’s been out on a huge bender. I look like a zombie, I have pale skin and black bags under my eyes, I wear torn; bleach stained clothes and I’m usually dragging a leg behind me because I’m too exhausted to walk like a normal human. I am the living dead.
But this living dead is functional. I've crawled out of my hungover grave and am pacing with my arms outstretched, ready to meet the demands of my little monsters.
A Hangover with children is not an option. The two lives are not compatible. That rockstar mother, preoccupied with the party is not the mother I want to be.
She is a disaster zone.
I had to make a choice. Hangover or Mum.
It wasn't easy. I chose the hard, bumpy road instead of the smooth inebriated one. I have times when I wonder what I'm doing? wonder if I can really do this?
But then I reminisce about those long days in bed feeling like a shit parent and my faith in myself is restored. In the moments I feel like giving up.....thats when I remember my struggle.
I get up and I get on with it.
I chose the 18-year parenting hangover rather than the 24 hour booze one.
A hangover spread over time is more bearable. More doable. I’m clear to face all the unexpected obstacles head on, rather than hide from my family in my darkened room and even though burying my head in a bottle of Prosecco is very appealing at times, I know those two worlds don’t mingle.
Unlike a real hangover, parenting hangovers are rewarded. Like today, I didn't lie in bed and hide. I got up and made cookies bigger than my babies head. I achieved something.
So, good or bad. Shouty or tired.
Drunk mummy or sober mummy?
I have made my choice.
I’ve had a few people emailing me asking ‘Are you ok?’
I think it’s because my posts tend to focus on some of the more negative sides of the parenting story. Just so you know.... I’m fine. I’m very happy and love my family more than anything in this entire universe. I just don’t want to write about all the highlights - you can see those bits on Facebook. I want to talk about the shit bits. I think if I was telling you how wonderful I am and how my kids were ‘super excited’ about the flaxseed bliss balls I’d made for morning tea you’d want to punch me in the face.
So don’t worry! I’m great. Now pass the Artisan Pear Kombucha and let’s go party!
pic - Yes! a cookie bigger than a human.