I quit my job 37 hours before my 2nd child was born. It was supposed to be one whole week but things didn’t go as planned. I had been working as a program developer and mental health counselor for the local community mental health center for 10 years.
On my last day of work I collaborated with a school principal to develop speciality programming for the “bad kid” that was causing chaos in her school. I helped a mom and her suicidal teenager get crisis services. And, I linked a homeless man to a shelter. It was hard work that required me to think fast, respond calmly, and trust the process.
I LOVED my job and the people I worked with. But childcare was expensive, the work was unpredictable, and the travel was becoming tiring. So we decided that I would stay at home when my second child was born.
When I agreed to be a stay at home parent I thought it meant being off work. Hell yeah! I planned out the whole thing. I would get SO MUCH ACCOMPLISHED! I would meal prep like I had always wanted to do, we could go to baby/mama classes and learn sign language, and I was going to cloth diaper because I would have so much time on my hands. I couldn’t wait to join a board of directors for a non profit, volunteer at the shelter, and take the kids to visit the elderly.
Guess what? There is no accomplishment with 2 babies. I spent all day trying to get one of them to sleep. I would clean up the cheerios just in time to clean up more cheerios. I changed 619 diapers a day. I couldn’t find time to take a shower or get dressed because what do you do with two babies when you need to be alone in the bathroom?
Instead of accomplishing I waited. I waited for Drew to come home so that I could “have a minute.” I waited for him to bring me wine, or beer, and dinner because there’s no chance in hell I was making something. I waited to relax, or rest, or shower, or change out of my pajamas, or scream at him for “not helping with the baby.”
With two babies, no job, and big plate of WTF is happening-I started drinking regularly. Somehow the boredom and mundane created chaos in my head. I was used to fast paced work with a high level of drama. Sitting around with two non verbal humans all day was the complete opposite of that. My anxiety was suddenly worse than ever before (which is saying a lot because I had been dealing with anxiety my entire life).
Before I knew it I was drinking every single night. I told myself that this was adulting. I said to myself that it’s normal to have a few glasses of wine or beer “with dinner” (even though dinner was cold mac and cheese leftover from Max’s lunch).
Everything felt off, but I was so thankful and reassured by the constant mom memes telling me that drinking and parenting were what moms do. Apathy took over and I began to accept that being tired, anxious, and unhappy was just “life.”
Soon, I was drinking my way through all of my children’s firsts-holidays, birthday parties, you name it. I was missing all of the special moments, all of the cute little nuances that could only be noticed by someone who was paying attention. All the while feeling resentful because I didn’t feel good (hungover, tired, irritable, edgy).
I would then suffocate myself with guilt. I would promise myself that tomorrow would be better and that I would be the perfect mom. We would spend our time crafting, eating healthy snacks, and playing creatively with wooden organic toys. I would will myself to be 100% present and happy. But that was short lived, because honestly who could do that? So, the cycle started over- Anxiety=Drinking=Feeling Like Crap=Guilt=Anxiety=Drinking.
That is until the emotional and physical symptoms were finally so painful that I could no longer deny what was happening.
Now? I am a mediocre mom at best and I am perfectly happy with that title. I am madly in love with my children and I am no longer drinking away my time with them. I no longer need alcohol to take the edge off because ironically, with no alcohol, there is so much less edge. Lowering my expectations and being present has made parenting so much easier.
I also decided that my role in life was so much more than “mother.” Don’t get me wrong, it is by far the most important role and it’s where I focus the majority of my energy. But, there is also me-who deep down also needs to be nurtured and cared for.