The Message We Don’t Need: Pandemic Parenting Is Only Manageable Under The Influence

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I got a text from a friend, another Mom with young children that read, “Today I have 30 days.”

30 days without a drink, on its own, in this society, is an accomplishment.

But attempting sobriety in the midst of a global pandemic, is a miracle.

I am always amazed to hear when young people find recovery in college or even before their 21st birthday.

I am especially in awe of those who have sought help these days, when AA rooms are now virtual, support groups cannot meet in person, and feelings of isolation and helplessness are at an all-time high.

I chose sobriety at 27. Approximately 10 years into my disease of alcoholism, those final 2 years of actual hell, and 34 days before I found out I was pregnant with my first daughter.

It’s no secret the alcohol industry is preying on our vulnerabilities right now.

One alcohol delivery service increased their business by 400% over the past 6 months. Alcohol sales as a whole are up 24%, bars and restaurants will even allow you to carry out booze.

Even Trader Joe’s, a seemingly health-conscious store, strategically placed a sign over the beer and wine section of their store in Vegas that reads, “Stock up on Home Schooling Supplies Here”.

Clever.

Except, the last thing this country needs is to spread the message, Parenting is only manageable while under the influence.

There was a time when this would have felt like a personal attack on my sobriety. I don’t anymore. I’m not going to take on the alcohol industry–that isn’t where my demons lie.

Early in sobriety, I would fantasize about all horrible things that could happen that would give me an excuse–a hall-pass to drink again.

At my most desperate, when my body felt like it would both dry up and rot from the inside out, I wished them to come fruition.

Surely, I could drink if blank happened, something too terrible to even write.

If ever I need a reminder that I have a disease, there it is.

Enter 2020 and its unrelenting cruelty.

Trapped inside looking out into a toxic smoke-filled sky, homeschooling three children under six, topped with a global pandemic. This would be the time to pick up and say, “To hell with it all!”

But here’s the truth: I don’t need a tragedy or excuse to put vodka into my body, I can do it any time. Any time at all.

Once I wrapped my head around that idea, it was both liberating and terrifying. The choice is mine – thankfully I’ve learned drinking is not a solution.

I celebrated 7 years of continuous recovery on May 2 of this year, about 2 months into this nightmare.

Now birthdays in sobriety are a strange thing. If we follow the logic of “one day at a time” my total accumulation of recovery doesn’t mean much.

As the day creeps closer, it starts to do your head in.

Overthinking every internal struggle, every destructive thought in my head telling me, “Just one is possible.”

I need to remind myself, I cannot do this forever—I can only do it today.

Much like enduring life with children during COVID-19.

How can I maintain homeschooling, working, and isolation from those I love forever? The answer is simple.

We can’t. Thankfully, all we need to get through is today.

An alcoholic’s struggle was entirely unrelatable to anyone not living within an alcoholic body.

Until now.

If the confinement of shelter-in-place is making your skin crawl.

If you are struggling to follow rules that feel restricting or abnormal.

If you would rather float somewhere above your body, than sit inside the discomfort of all the uncertainty.

If you’ve waved a dismissive hand and said, “It’s fine. Mommy just needs her wine, and then she can handle homeschooling, quarantine, or even the end of the world.”

Then you’ve been given a taste of what it’s like to have an addiction.

What’s more, is now we are all connected in this way.

A universal empathetic understanding, knowing we are not alone in these feelings.

This profound realization didn’t bring anyone back from the dead and it cannot be put into a vaccine.

But we can call on it in our loneliest moments. And maybe this shared truth, can help us all make it through today.

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