Mother’s Ruin? Yes please.

11 Jul

I like a drink. And so do my friends. I’m lucky in this respect as it means I have a lot of options when it comes to drinking buddies. Wine, beer, gin. Yes please.

There’s something about parenting that leaves me gagging for a very cold glass of white wine or a Peroni about a millisecond after baby bedtime. I don’t see anything wrong with drinking now that I’m a parent. I know a guy who gave up boozing for a year after his son was born “in case he needed me”. For what, I do not know.

I try to limit my alcohol intake to a few nights a week. Mainly because a banging hangover + childcare = Hell On Earth. Oh, and for health reasons of course.

My other parent mates are also into drinking, and children’s parties are no exception. It’s normal to be handed a glass of wine or offered a beer before you’ve even handed over the gift or taken your coat off. This is a good thing. Children en masse are tiresome. Booze helps. Summer barbecues have a constant flow of booze. Nights in bars or restaurants involve wine, wine, wine. Moar wine plz.

I wasn’t a heavy drinker before I got pregnant, I didn’t get totally hammered but I did drink regularly. Of course there were the occasional sessions, usually on holiday. 12 hours of drinking in Paris with my husbands work colleagues. Rum all-nighter with some Danes in Bangkok. Cambodian tequila. Malaysian sherry. Fun, all. Mornings after, bleak. And let us just gloss over The Raki Incident.

Adapting to booze free life was easy. I dabbled with alcohol free beer (tastes like pastry) and wine (tastes like evil) at first, but then moved on to huge glasses of tonic water with ice and lemon, trying to kid myself it had gin in it.

From the middle of my pregnancy I had the occasional small beer or thimbleful of wine. I savoured my time with alcohol like an illicit meeting with a secret lover. I drank it at home, mostly, as I didn’t want people to judge me. I would have the occasional sip of my husbands wine in restaurants, a sneaky half a Guinness in a dark pub. A lot of my friends did the same. I didn’t dare when in USA at 6 months pregnant. God knows how they’d respond to a pregnant lady boozing and I wasn’t eager to find out.

I had one glass of wine at my wedding. I remember the day in detail which is great.

I had one solitary glass of wine on Christmas Day. That was a strange experience.

I was sick for the last month of my pregnancy so I had no alcohol then. I can’t remember how quickly I got back onto the booze after the birth. Not that quickly as I was breastfeeding and on a truckload of metronidazole for a nasty infection (more in this another time. Shudder). A friend of mine was presented with a chilled bottle of Moët and plastic champagne flutes by her sister on the post natal ward about 2 hours after giving birth. They had a private room I might add. I had fuzzy water and skittles.

Combined feeding allowed for boozing and boozing I did. Not loads. Not getting wasted. But achieving the calm peacefulness that 2 large glasses of wine brought me while my baby slept was a wonderful relaxant. I didn’t go out I the evening for ages so my sofa, boxsets and wine nights were my down time. Going to a friends house for the afternoon and having a cold bottle of beer or 2 was easy peasy with a tiny baby. I’m not talking about stumbling around Britney Spears stylee, half clutching a baby to my chest. 2 beers won’t do that to me. I’m a professional.

Now, with a toddler, it’s a bit more complicated. Last weekend my husband and I took our offspring to an afternoon to evening barbecue party. The many kids there were 6 and under and ran wild around the house and garden. My toddler needed to be constantly supervised and prevented from falling down steps or taking all the pretzels out of the massive jar and licking them. We took in in turns wrangling her, while chatting to mates, eating ribs and drinking rosé (me) or beer (him). I think all the parents there were drinking. It’s just what you do at a british summer party. It’s fun.

If there’s ever any kind of emergency then we’ll deal with it. If we need to go somewhere we can take a cab with our carseat. If we need to go to A&E that urgently, we will call an ambulance. I’m not sure why (or even if) there’s a real stigma around parental boozing. Maybe it’s just that the constant sense of responsibility you first feel as a new parent is somehow at odds with drinking a whole bottle of Rioja.

Anyway, after the barbecue party we walked home ( I held on to the buggy, genius!) and put the baby to bed. We then sat in deck chairs in the garden and had a beer. I fell asleep for 15 minutes and the fucking mosquitos had an All You Can Eat buffet.

I gave no plans to give up drinking until I get pregnant again, and even then I’ll have a few after the first few months. Of course drinking heavily in pregnancy is a Bad Thing but how many ladies get hammered before they find out their pregnant? Loads. A GP mate told me women always panic about those early pregnancy benders. I did. My child is fine.

Now if you’ll excuse me I have a night out at a local beer festival next week and I need to arrange a babysitter.

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