I mean, that can be true for a number of reasons, but for today's purposes, I am calling myself a total cliche because I gave up drinking on New Year's Day, the most cliche day to give up drinking ever. I didn't plan on giving up drinking on New Year's Day, it just kind of...happened, and as it comes around again, I realize it has almost been an entire year since I have had any alcohol.
Never being hungover at all anymore is of course amazing, especially since it really only took a couple glasses of wine for me to have a headache and be tired the next day. I still joke that if I didn't get hungover at all I would probably never have stopped drinking, but what made me decide to stop altogether on New Year's Day was the fact that I had only had a few drinks and still felt like crap the next day. Add in the fact that I only had those drinks because it was "NEW YEAR'S EVE WOO HOO" and even though I was spending it at home in my pjs I still felt obligated to "celebrate" a little.
Why did I feel like I should celebrate? The same reason I used to feel like I should have a glass of wine at bedtime. I'm a mom! I have five kids! Of COURSE I need a drink, right? I mean isn't that what moms do to relax? Fill up "Mommy's Sippy Cup" with a little white wine and kick back a little? That's what we are lead to believe, at least. That was the cliche I used to buy into. That as stressed out parents we deserve it, we really need it, actually. It makes us better parents to relax once in a while, right? Why else would we have wine called "Mommy's Time Out" or movies like "Bad Moms" where getting tanked is supposed to be funny and par for the course of motherhood?
The truth is, women are "celebrating" more than ever before. A recent study in JAMA Psychiatry found that between 2002 and 2013, "high-risk drinking," which is defined as consuming four or more drinks a day, rose among women by 58%, compared with a 29.9% rise for the general population, and "problem drinking," or drinking so much that it causes significant problems in your life and/or the inability to stop drinking, rose by 83.7% among women during this period, compared with a 50% rise in the general population. That's huge.
Probably the biggest thing I realized when I quit drinking though, was that I wasn't having a drink at the end of the day to "relax", I was having a drink at the end of the day to make me feel better for falling short of self imposed expectations. Falling short of what I thought I should be doing. Working more, volunteering more, spending more "quality time" with literally every single person in my life. Just being better at everything, in general. Falling short of that ugly little "Super Mom" idea we all seem to have bought into.
The problem was, although having a glass of wine temporarily made me feel better for my shortcomings, having that same glass of wine would actually become one of my percieved shortcomings, so it turned into a fun little cycle of feeling bad about things. I felt bad for not being a better parent so I'd have a glass of wine to feel better about that then I'd feel bad about having a glass of wine to feel better about feeling bad. Sounds totally normal, right?
I realized not only did I need to give up drinking that did nothing for me whatsoever, I also needed to finally give up the idea that anyone can, or should be, "super", basically, ever. We are not meant to be comic book heroes. Let's get one thing straight, parenting will be hard, you do not need to make excuses, you will fail, let me repeat that, you WILL fail, we all do, sometimes every single day, as most humans do. Becoming a mother does not automatically exempt you from being able to make mistakes. You will never be a perfect parent, nobody ever was or ever will be, so don't even try. I mean, when did the standards get so high, anyway? Forget "Bad Moms", can we go back to being just "moms", along with the good, the bad, and the ugly? Since when did not doing crafts and being an actual person with regular flaws make you a "bad mom"? Do I really want my kids to think that I do everyting perfectly? Hell to the no.
The truth is, I don't have an issue with moms drinking, I have an issue with moms thinking they need to have a drink in order to be better parents, or need to feel bad for not being perfect. I used to think that I needed that glass of wine to get through the tough days, but in reality, I don't. I wasn't doing anything wrong by falling short of a ridiculous ideal I held in my own head. I needed to skip the wine to see that I really just needed to accept myself as a mother the way I was, flaws and all. My kids already did, so I could too. This New Year's Eve, I will be toasting with my pink grapefruit seltzer to my one year anniversary of giving up wine, but also to the anniversary of giving myself a break.