Belly up to the Bar?

This has been the second toughest week of my life.

The relationship that I thought was going to last forever has fallen apart, largely at my own hands.

Friends and family are taking sides.

Stuff is being divided.

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Schedules are being drawn up.

Lawyers and therapists and judges, oh my!

Mommy needs a drink. And in a bad way.

But is it okay? Have I earned it? Am I sending my kids a message that by knocking a few back, I’m going to make things better? I know that pomegranate martini I’m lusting for isn’t going to fix my marriage, nor will it keep my mother from telling me that I’m making the worst mistake of my life.

But gosh darn it, it sure as hell would taste REALLY good about now.

Paul Clarke posted this piece in The New York Times this week. He explores the impacts of adult alcohol consumption in the presence of children. He observes that, for many of us, our initial exposure to the delicious delight is as a drug, not a a drink. With underage partiers stowing stolen bottles in cars for late-night bonfires and house parties with parents in absentia. The thrill of doing something “bad” and not getting caught adds a new dimension to consumption – one that makes the drink into more of an “act” than merely a beverage.

I was raised in a home where, like the author, there was really no mystique about alcohol. Dad would have the occasional screwdriver at a wedding or card party at the house. We always had Southern Comfort on hand for my Grandma Freda to sip while she taught me how to play King’s Corners. Mom was never afraid to douse spaghetti and lasagna sauces with a giant jug of Gallo, while spilling a bit into a tumbler to quench her thirst while cooking.

I was always allowed a taste, but the flavor never did too much for me. I still can’t explain how I’m half-Canadian and I can’t stand the taste of beer (sorry Moosehead, I’ll pass). Yes, I had a fake ID (Sorry Mom! I’ve disappointed you yet again.), but my desire was for access to where my of-age friends were, not the drink itself. Although I was known to tie one on every now and again, I was the one who was usually holding some poor sorority sister’s ponytail while she prayed to the porcelain goddess. I saw firsthand the price for overindulgence, and experienced my share of it now and again.

So how do I handle it now that I have kids? Yes, Homer and I drink in front of our kids. We jokingly refer to it as “mommy juice” and “daddy juice.” When they get old enough, we’ll probably let them have a sip now and again, like our parents did for us. Do I expect them to make stupid mistakes with alcohol? Of course. But I am responsible for teaching our kids that all food and drinks can be okay in moderation and enjoyed responsibly.

After all, too many Oreos means that I’m holding another ponytail over the porcelain goddess. This time, though it’s on a five year old.