It is half term here in the UK which means my two are at home for the week taking a well earned rest from school. They are both at primary school and are normally struggling with tiredness at this point in the term.
Now in my old drinking life and if I was moderating in a ‘no drinking on a school night’ way then this was carte blanche to up the ante. No work for me, no school for them, Bingo! To be honest even if I wasn’t moderating and was on a ‘I deserve the reward of a glass or bottle every night for getting through the day’ stage we were all officially on holiday so holiday means ‘holiday drinking!’ Yep I could always find a bona fide reason to drink MORE.
As you can imagine I used to be pretty cranky and not really very good company for them. I would endeavour to keep them in bed for as long as possible, so I didn’t have to get up, and would hustle them to bed as quickly as possible come evening time so that I could get ‘my’ holiday thing on.
Drinking made me a really selfish parent because I grew up around daily drinking and knew the havoc it wrecked so never wanted my kids to see me drinking or drunk. Never wanted to role-model that behaviour so tried to hide it from them. That’s when you know you have a disconnect because if it wasn’t a problem then why was I so worried about them seeing me drinking?
The belief that because they didn’t see me drinking somehow protected them also underestimates their intelligence and the impact of drinking even when you don’t have a glass in your hand. Who was I kidding that because they didn’t see it – it wasn’t a problem for our family? I was hiding my drinking from them – that made it a problem.
Fast forward to today and I am awake and up before them, greet them with a smile not a sigh and I genuinely want to spend time with them. Before I would struggle through the day, wanting to be left alone in a quiet darkened room nursing a hangover waiting for the clock to strike wine o’clock for the hair of the dog to bring some alcohol first aid.
It feels like I have become a better parent but that makes it sound like I was not a ‘good enough’ parent before and that isn’t true. I was good enough but much of the time I wasn’t as present as I could have been with them. I missed a lot of the cues and moments because I was too distracted with either a hangover or planning my next supermarket run for booze or thinking about drinking. I feel like an ‘enhanced’ good enough parent now and long may it continue 🙂