Sippy Cups All Round August 04 2015

What happened to July? Or half the year?! It just up and went and left me behind I think! Honestly it’ll be New Year’s Eve before we know it.

So ... Cheers!

Unless you are continuing on with Dry July. Or are pregnant. Or breastfeeding. Or you have made the (sensible) decision to not really drink. Then CONGRATULATIONS on all fronts. I envy your will power. And commitment to soda water.

I have been off the breastfeeding band wagon for nearly a year. The longest period not connected to an embryo, a small child or having them attached to me since I was in my very early twenties. And I have not done any favours to my liver since. I have enjoyed afternoon beers on the farm with a hardworking and dusty husband. Cocktails full of giggles and secrets on long-overdue catch ups with long lost girlfriends. Bubbled away over bottles of bubbly. Devoured delicious wines over delicious lunches. There have been good times. Many good times.

Too much of a good thing perhaps at times. There have been a few occasions where night slipped into early morning and I have slipped into bed - just. And then the sun rose and I was not capable of much for the next 24hrs or so besides slow-chewing plain toast and sucking on a few icy poles. Instead of my babies, I was the one in the foetal position. And it wasn’t pretty. There was no sweet breathing and cherub nose. There was snoring and panda eyes. And oh how I cursed the bottle.

But I never turned my back. Well at least not for more than half a week or so.

Because there are those days. When ‘mummy’s little helper’ is like having a maid, a chef and Mary Poppins waltz in at the witching hour and offer to mop, make you a cuppa and cheesecake and take the kids to the park. Or is that just me?

Recently in the supermarket Elsie opened not one, but two whole punnets of blueberries and sent them spinning like marbles across the aisles. Dougal chucked it because I wasn’t purchasing multiple chocolate treats he had handpicked (in fact I had boycotted that aisle all together). And Campbell was just sulking because I was a ‘boring’ mum who didn’t buy anything fun at all. Ever.

So they were all screaming. Standard really.

And I really wanted to as well. I must have looked fairly stricken, because a very, very nice lady offered to render me some assistance. I asked if that included gin. She laughed, but then noted it was only 9.30am. I thought I was doing well to be out of pjs at that hour in the school holidays, let alone debating young minds about the nutritional value of anything that came in a neon packet.

I was only joking about the gin. I swear. (If it was 12.30pm then maybe I would not have been.)

I wonder is it a coincidence that the most socially acceptable drinking time coincides with the most unsocial time for small people? I think not. The kids get ice cream as a reward for eating their dinner and not putting a fork in each other’s eye. I get a drink for cooking something at least one of them considered acceptable enough to eat. We all win.

I know I am not alone in reaching for some relaxation in a liquid form come sundown. Toys are restacked for the hundredth time, I’ve somewhat surmounted the mountain of washing (at least washed and dried if not folded and shoved back in cupboards) and sometimes we have even achieved a nice balance of peace and play (at least for a partial part of the day). And I don’t even go to an office and deal with the real world. In my mind that means double the workload therefore double the reward.

Sometimes when I double the reward on a big-kids night out I believe myself to be funnier. I know I definitely get louder. And if possible I talk more. I know this because my husband is often beside me making small but persistent shushing noises. I swear it’s just because I am busy trying to cram six years of sober social gatherings into one night… Usually I sulkily take the hint and fill up the water glass.

Before children I used to rock up to our local pub on a Friday night, heels and all, and jump on a stool, sit down with the local blokes and drink schooners. It was a lot of fun and I learned a lot about cows. And being young I could handle my fair share and wake up the next day feeling ever so chipper.

Now, after three children I have lost not only a fair bit of elasticity in my stomach muscles (and possibly pelvic floor), but it seems I also pushed out my ability to hold more than two drinks without becoming tiddly, or to get up the next day without feeling like I had gone two rounds with a reef of barnacles in a teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini. Even then the thought of yellow can make me squeamish.

I thought for a while it would come back with a bit of practice. And I tried. Right through until the sun came up. Okay, I tried that once. Just once. And that Sunday was not a Funday. The game has truly left me.

So here are my strategies for coping after you miss the ticket for getting back on the booze bus:

Have another baby.

(Joking again

Pregnancy and alcohol is such a tricky topic. Josh and I first began having The Baby Talk after about two years of marriage. After years of endometriosis I was in the question-mark category as far as fertility. My gynaecologist thought he would look into it so we abandoned all contraception to level out my hormones. We didn’t think anything would happen anytime soon, let alone without some intervention, and I was rather young so naturally I thought there was much more to life at that moment, than creating life…

A few weeks later many of my dearest friends came home from global roaming all at once. A long evening with much vodka, bad dancing and even worse kebabs ensued. I felt suitably rubbish on the Sunday. And Monday. By Tuesday I declared it the worst hangover ever. By Wednesday something clicked and I trundled off to the pharmacy for a pregnancy test.

After years of doctors saying pregnancy would fix my female problems - if I could get pregnant at all - I was amazed to watch the little lines appear. For once I was truly speechless. I couldn’t even ring Josh. He came home to find me curled up on the lounge. I didn’t have to say anything. He worked it out and was gleeful and tearful and laughed. And then we both laughed until we were sitting on the floor in stunned silence. By coincidence he had even come home with ‘hope your hangover is gone’ flowers.

I became the ever-so-cautious-first-time-pregnant-buy-up-everything-in-the-catalogue-and-don’t-go-near-a-cheese-shop-kind-of-clueless-woman. I shied away from champagne corks being popped least the fizz get on me - such was my guilt for my dreadful first few days of motherhood (ie being totally plastered). I didn’t ever want to smell or taste grog again. I watched everyone else down celebratory bubbles on my behalf and I didn’t mind one bit.

By the second pregnancy I would tolerate a little white wine sauce on my chicken, and once baby Dougal was sleeping through the night, a light beer in the evenings or a little wine were a welcome treat.

By the third pregnancy I was all over the Guinness pies and had learned to finally relax a little. I even had a super-delicious cocktail while lounging poolside (the size of a house – that’s me, not the pool), on a tropical island for my 30th birthday. Rock on. I felt guilty, but not that guilty. Everything was becoming relative and I was learning perspective.

Then Elsie came and was eventually weaned and I didn’t know what came next so I played catch up to my old partying ways. Yes, with age came a little wisdom to drink less than in my university days. That wisdom: drink less or feel like a library full of books has landed on your head.

I know several friends that due to health or happiness have given away grog altogether. I know plenty others that could still outdrink the forward pack of a good country rugby team. I don’t think either rides a higher horse or gets invited to more race days.

I do worry that personally we are a bit too casual about alcohol. Even Elsie knows the word beer. Would she touch it – no! ‘That’s for daddy,’ she laughs. But still I wonder if it is too common place, too much part of the routine. Everything from birthday parties to Sunday afternoon barbeques includes a beverage or two. It’s a privilege of being the adult, there is no doubt about that. It’s a privilege I don’t like abusing in front of my kids though and am always horrified at the thought of being wobbly near them. Then again if I behave like a kid in the company of other adults, that is not great either.

Responsibility creeps into every aspect of your life once you are the minder of another life, so I suppose I should not have been surprised my youthful booze-bender ways had to bend a little too. As for now, I reckon I have earned another star on my rewards chart tonight (yes, I mean wine – the bottle was already half used for making dinner I swear!). And if you are on the sober-wagon due to pregnancy, breastfeeding, health or common sense then I do truly applaud the path you are on, and the great destination ahead. Bottoms up to that (insert beverage of choice here)!