Alcohol and Kids

I have mentioned Humans of New York (HONY) before. This was one of the site’s posts from yesterday:

http://www.humansofnewyork.com/post/92666030316/she-was-filled-with-regret-before-she-died-she

The compassion here is so inspiring.  (If  you can’t access the comments, you would be able to on the HONY Facebook page).  The post and responding comments were so moving, and HONY’s posts reach so many people – over 8,000,000 people like the HONY Facebook Page!

And this article a few days ago in Huffington Post was interesting.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kathy-radigan/an-open-letter-to-my-teenage-son-about-drinking_b_5609429.html

Why does it have to be a “given” that teens will drink?  It does not have to be.  As Anne Dowsett Johnston (Drink), Mrs. D., The Anonymous People, The Sober Señorita, and this article capture, alcoholic consumption does not have to be a given in our lives. When and where I grew up, it was a given that everyone would start drinking in high school, then binge in college, then continue to drink into adulthood. Why? I agree with the above-mentioned, it’s time to change the mindset.

My oldest child is 11. I am mentally preparing for a conversation somewhat similar to the one in the Huffington Post article in the next year or sooner.  I doubt if I will handle it exactly as the author does (ex., I doubt if I will say I will not allow you to have any alcohol in my presence before 21) but I agree with her that we don’t have to just assume that teens will drink.  I agree with her that kids today are hearing a lot more about healthy choices than we did, and parents should continue with this discussion about making good choices, drinking responsibly and the reasons behind a drinking age.   Like the author mentions, the years are flying by.  While my three kids are currently all under 12, I really do dread the day in the not-so-far-off future when they will likely be offered alcohol.

So in the not-so-far-off future, I will need to talk with them about the risks of alcohol and the fact that alcoholism is present on both sides of their family.  I want to have credibility with them when I do so.  I started to feel I could not keep on the path I was going with drinking wine daily and then try to talk with them about these issues without feeling hypocritical.  And the daily wine habit was starting to take its toll in many ways on me.  My 11-year-old may have already been noticing.

So, back to the present, I am on Day 73.  I have not talked with my children about my 100 Day Challenge.  I don’t know if they have noticed that I have not been drinking.  I hope when the time comes for serious discussions with my oldest, I will have at least 6 months to a year alcohol free and will be able to say that.   If I ever choose the moderation route, I want to make sure I have it mastered.  Is that even possible for me anymore?  I don’t know.  But right now, I do know it is actually easier for me mentally to completely take the choice away – no drinks for me!  This is easier than the days in the Spring when I would struggle with the decision of whether I will drink today or not, or at this or that event, or not.  And I am liking have 70-plus consecutive days too after the Spring I had!

Specifically, I did tell my 11-year-old almost five months ago that I was thinking of giving up wine for Lent (March 5-April 20, 2014). He gave up candy (successfully). I did successfully give up Facebook for Lent, but failed on my intention to give up wine.  I also observed myself choosing my words very carefully – only including wine and giving myself an out saying I was “thinking” about it.

I feel saddened and embarrassed that I was not able to do it.  (The past 2 years I also tried to give up wine for Lent but did not tell anyone).  This time, it honestly also mortified and scared me because I verbalized it out loud to my son and did not accomplish it!

By mid-March, I filled him in that I would be just abstaining during the week and only having wine on weekends. But I did not even accomplish that!

On Wednesday, April 2, 2014, I was terribly hungover after too much wine the day before (a random Tuesday – again breaking my newly revised Lenten promise) this time ironically on April Fool’s Day (yes I was a fool). As I was lying on my couch feeling a bundle of emotions about myself (Shame, Guilt, Disgust, Fear, Loneliness), I googled “Moms and Drinking” or something to that effect, and I discovered Unpickled. It was such a revelation. There were other Moms out there like me, whose wine habit had gone haywire!

By the close of April, I tallied 20 days alcohol free and 10 days where I drank, but my motivation was really building. And my way of thinking about alcohol as something I needed to relax, unwind, celebrate, etc. was changing. It is not needed for any of these things at all. It does not have to be a “given” in my social life or my home life!

I am a sentimental person.  So I did my goodbyes to some of my favorite drinks.  In early May, I had what I planned to me my last Margarita. On another day in late April, I had my last sip of Champagne. I had my last Corona on another day.  All these days I followed up with wine – I was not simply doing one drink and done of course.  I never squeezed in my last Guinness.  Oh well. I have good memories of those in Ireland from a few trips there. Wine (red wine) was the hardest to say goodbye to though.

On May 12, 2014, I drank my last sip (there glasses full in truth) of red wine. I saved the cork of the Silverado bottle we got from Napa. I marked it with the date. It is in the drawer of my nightstand.

And since then, like so many others, I need to keep reading and reinforcing and learning and remembering why I am doing this. My 2014 Lenten resolution failure is one big motivator. I think the HONY post brought that memory to the surface. God Bless this man for being able to separate his mother from her substance abuse after her death. I want to separate myself from the growing alcohol problem in my life on my own (so my kids don’t have to after I am gone)!  And I want to do it early enough in their lives, and before it truly became a physical health problem for me.

My 11-year-old may have already figured out this past Spring that drinking wine was a problem for me though and I know that. I sensed disappointment from him and confusion as to why I had not gone through with both Lenten intentions.

All of this (and more which I do hope to write about going forward) has helped me stay motivated these past 73 Days.   There have been some really tough days though; this is not easy.  But I keep coming back to my kids.  I want to be a good mother and a good example and I way to be truly present in their lives.  These links above reinforce and are helping me remember these reasons.

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