St. Patrick’s Day Fail: Parenting And Hangovers Don’t Mix

moms who drinkSt. Patrick’s Day is upon us, which for many people means a perfect excuse to get dressed up and party ’til the wee hours of morning. That’s all fine and dandy but if you’re a parent, as I am, be warned that it’s a bad idea. Not because parents shouldn’t drink (um, hi, could you survive without wine?). And not because we shouldn’t leave the house (I’d go nuts without my childless Saturday nights). But mostly because parenting and hangovers don’t mix. In fact, it’s the precise definition of hell on earth.

I was reminded of this fact just last weekend. I straightened my hair, left the kids with a sitter and headed out to a friend’s 40th birthday party. The scene was festive: Italian food (family-style), mishmash of people, and just a warm and fuzzy vibe that reminded me a bit of being in my 20s and knowing that you had your whole night and life ahead of you. I didn’t set out to drink, per se. Sure, I had a glass of wine before dinner. Then another one while eating. But it was one of those situations where every time I took a sip, a waiter would fill my glass with more. Could I have said no? Of course! But when it’s just a minor refill, you start to lose track.

Several hours later, I stood up from the table to make my rounds. And, wow, was I drunk. The perfect drunk. Needless to say, I had a blast. When my husband urged me to say my goodbyes at around 12:30 a.m., I told him no way. So he left! Without me! (We’re independent that way.) Next thing I know, it’s 2 a.m. and the party is about to move to a smaller bar nearby. “Come! Joins us!” urged the (childless) birthday boy and my NBFs (some of them parents themselves). That’s when my mother instinct kicked in and I thought, “Holy shit, I have to be up in five hours.” So I hailed a cab and headed home.

Hubs was still awake, and he reminded me that it was daylight savings time (spring forward). I closed my eyes and was awoken by my 2-year-old’s cries of “Mommmy. Mommmmmyyyyyyyyyyyyy.” I thought that five minutes had passed but it turns out with actually morning (6:32 to be precise). And I the world’s worst morning person was somewhat hyper, which makes me think perhaps I was still drunk? A couple hours (and coffees) later my husband and I were out the door with our two kids, en route to a baby naming (a Jewish ceremony for newborn girls) for my brand new niece.

That’s when it hit me: that feeling of nauseousness and utter uselessness (you know, when you start to think, How will I survive the next five minutes, never mind the entire day). If I had no kids, well, I suppose I wouldn’t have been awake in the first place. But if I had no kids and it were 11 a.m., I’d go out for a greasy breakfast, drink copious amounts of coffee, and then plan for an afternoon nap followed, perhaps, by a low-key dinner with friends. I had this thought as I sat in my sister’s basement surrounded by 20 or so screaming children and flying objects. My head pounded. I thought I would throw up. And I felt like a total asshole.

Because let’s get one thing straight: there is nothing cool about being hungover in your later 30s. And there is nothing cool about being hungover while tending to your toddlers. It reminds of an old episode of Sex and the City back from season one when the ladies’ one-time party-girl friend, now pregnant, attempts a striptease at Samantha’s house party. She looked so pathetic as she tried to take off her maternity top but it got stuck on her giant belly. In fact, the whole scene was pathetic. It was like she was unwilling to say goodbye to her former life and accept her new lot.

That’s how I felt in my sister’s basement. I’m glad I went out and had fun, but the next day was hell, and it totally wasn’t worth it. I learn this lesson first-hand probably once a year, and every time I swear I will never drink too much and stay out way too late ever again. That is, until the next big celebration comes around and, well, you forget how tortuous “the morning after” can be.

One mom friend told me how she got so drunk at an out-of-town family wedding that she spent the next morning hanging over the toilet. Over breakfast, she constantly got up to run to the bathroom. “Wow, Mommy is peeing so much,” observed her 4-year-old. “She must be drinking lots and lots.” (He was referring to water, of course, but this boy’s father was only too pleased to tell his son, “That’s right, Mommy drinks way too much, honey”). There was nothing funny about it at the time, but my friend did laugh about it weeks later and swore she would never drink again (wineglass in hand).

The worst is that kids are so oblivious to hangovers (as they should be), and so moms are forced to be “on” the entire day, morning to night. At the best of times, a Sunday with the kids is fun and wonderful, but it’s challenging. What with the meltdowns and meals and clean-ups and constant entertaining. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t change it for the world but it’s hard. Doing so after a good night’s sleep is challenging enough. Doing it with no sleep is flat-out nightmare. Doing it hungover and with no sleep is enough to make even the most together mom weep quietly in the bathroom.

Motherhood and hangovers don’t mix is the lesson to be learned here (unless you’re on holiday without the kids or, say, they’re sleeping out for the night). It’s not even a moral lesson, more just a piece of advice. One I hope to take myself the next time there’s cause for celebration.

(Photo: Stockbyte)

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