I’d love to say that since giving up drinking that holidays are better, that I skip through the sand dunes in a floaty kaftan holding a bucket and spade and that I spend quality time bonding with my little angels. But sadly, that’s not the case. I find the never-ending child minding and the lack of a release (vodka) or a reward (Chardonnay) intense.
Not drinking on holiday is hard.
At night I’m tested but during the day… I’m there. I’m not hiding in my room with the aircon on full of self-hatred. I’m there. I’m able. I’m part of the day. I’m there, with them, cheering them on as they race on the beach, to wrap them in towels, to warm them up when their teeth chatter and to make them packed lunches, to buy a shell bracelet at the shop and I’m there when they complain about being bored.
My husband and I have to complete our motherly duties on holiday just like we do at home.
Sun cream is on, plasters cover bleeding toes, ice packs are held on heads, swimming costumes are hung out in the sun, earplugs are removed, bum cracks are cleared of sand, chips are picked up from the floor, ice-cream is ordered by the gallon and after a hectic dinner, PJs are on and they’re tucked up in bed in soft hotel bedsheets.
No wind down.
At times like this, giving up drinking feels like a very unwise thing to do.
I kiss the kids and whisper goodnight. I go outside and sit at the table with my husband.
“I feel like drinking when we’re away” I say.
“I feel like I need a drink to wind down. Don’t worry, I’m not going to have one, but I find I’m thinking about it more”.
He makes me a cup of cinnamon tea and we sit outside the room playing Uno. Drunk people wander past heading to the bar and the stars twinkle above our heads. I distract myself; doing so gives me time. I play the tape forward in my head as I sit with my husband and I deliberate the consequences.
“What if I did drink?”
“Just a cheeky holiday wine?” I say.
“When have you ever, ever had just one glass of wine?” he says.
He knows me and after a minute of consideration, I realise that actually, I know me too.
I know me very well. The more sober I am, the closer I am to my own truth. There is no cheeky wine. There is only 7 cheeky wines and a naughty bottle of gin. Then a hangover with a big dollop of fear.
I know me.
So, this holiday, even though I’m feeling highly strung, annoyed with kids, tired and in need of a crutch… I decide to choose days over nights.
I opt for happy days instead of messy nights. I focus on the light and avoid being dragged into the darkness.
I sit with my husband and watch as laughing revellers stumble back to rooms. I feel jealous of their demeaners, all slouched and wobbly as a room key drops to the floor. They fall through the entry way giggling. I can’t help wanting to feel like that. It’s so confusing sometimes.
And then I hear him.
I go in and give him his snuggy and he smiles before lying down.
I stand looking at him asleep inside the little portacot hoping he won’t wake up too early, knowing that he will.
I finish my game of Uno and read my book in bed before falling asleep at 9pm.
Holidays used to be about the drinking. And now, even though at times I need to bury my head in the sand and ugly cry, holidays are about them, about being available…. for them.
The old me would have thought this version of me was as dull as dishwater. But she was a loon, a booze-fuelled party animal with no responsibilities and some very questionable rashes, so I don’t listen to her. I get up and make raisin toast for my family and get on with my day. Tears, stubbed toes and all.
After the occasional moments of doubt…
Days win. Every time.
Originally published here.
Victoria lives on The Sunshine Coast on the East Coast of Australia. She has three uncontrollable children, a very patient husband and a dog. She’s been sober for 2 years and writes about her zig zaggy journey in her blog –www.drunkmummysobermummy.com. Victoria is currently writing a book about parenting, alcohol and life as a sober mum.