Heineken or Sam Adams Octoberfest.
Red [wine] not white.
Margarita – if it’s Mexican night.
Those drinks – IF I drank.
But me and alcohol? Well, we’ve been on a break; it’s been thirteen years. In seven years, maybe there’ll be a reconciliation – maybe in flirting with alcohol, I’ll let the taste of Heineken or Sam move past my lips, as I sit by the fireside under a starry night sky.
Maybe that won’t happen at the end of the 20-year abstain from drinking; maybe time will reveal the break-up was destined to be a forever-kind-of-thing.
Honestly, I don’t care either way – alcohol has never been, and it never will be, a prerequisite for my bar-top dancing – heck, if the right song comes on when I’m in a parking lot and I’m in the right company, I may (because I have) just start dancing right then and there in broad daylight…is that weird? Are 40-something-year-old baseball moms not supposed to do that?
Music – that’s my alcohol.
To be clear, I’ve never had an alcohol dependence.
To be frank, I’m not a virgin to some nights in my early 20s where tipsy stumbled into drunk…if I end up reuniting with alcohol after the two-decade break-up, the Captain (Morgan) will not be part of the reunion.
Perhaps it seems strange that an adult, with a sense of moderation, would voluntarily stop drinking alcohol – after all, Anne Hathaway, I am not. But just as the Academy Award actress boycotted alcohol for her sons, I did so for mine.
Hathaway gave up alcohol when her oldest was three; I stopped drinking any alcohol right before I started trying to conceive. For the first decade of my ban, I felt alone, though not once, did I ever question my decision. I never had an alcohol dependence; yet, I’m intimately aware of the magnitude in alcohol’s aptitude for destruction – my head knows it – my heart has felt it – my hands have been called upon it to treat it as if they were the hands of a first responder.
I am a teacher – one that learned a life lesson in the hardest of ways. I am a woman with no regrets. I confess to my misjudgments and my humanness; we’re all living and learning – none of us are batting a thousand.
When I read about Hathaway’s decision to quit alcohol until her son was an adult, so that she could be the best version of herself for him, I felt less alone. In hopes I can do for someone what the actress did for me, I’m willing to risk alienating myself from local circles with this confession of my no-alcohol-required-parenthood.
Some would call, “Bullshit,” but just because a person is seen holding an alcoholic beverage in her hand, it doesn’t mean when she puts the glass or bottle to her mouth that she’s letting the drink move beyond her lips.
Maybe that woman wants a night where she can fly below the radar – she doesn’t feel like storytelling – she doesn’t want pity for the hard road traveled that led to her decision to not resume drinking any alcohol after childbirth and breastfeeding.
The woman is able to hold the drink in her hand because she knows she’s disciplined and can trust that the alcohol will not slip past her lips. She doesn’t hold the drink out of peer pressure; she sometimes holds it so as not to make others at a social gathering feel uncomfortable because let’s be honest: drinkers don’t always want non-drinkers around. As a non-drinker, I don’t judge those that are drinking – if you can drink and hold your shit together, that’s great. If you don’t mind the hangover the next day, cheers to the extra strongly brewed, large coffee. I’m not judging – you do you and I’ll do me.
The truth straight-up is that single moms like me are accustomed to not getting the invite to wine nights. That’s not a statement made by a woman hating on other women; it’s a mom’s observations of how money and marital status matter to several (not all) of her peers. Every day, I’m grateful for my very small tribe of kick-ass mom friends that are genuine and non-judgmental – the women that could care less that there’s no diamond or band on my ring finger and that my salary confines me to the box for the very least desirable of income classes.
Yes, I’m broke monetary-wise, but in every other way – no, I’m not broken.
“If anyone deserves to drink, it’s you.” I’ve never quite known how to respond to that comment when it’s been said to me. The way I see it – yes, life has blindsided me with more than a fair share of heartbreaking experiences, but life has also blessed me with the greatest reason (motherhood) to get my ass out of bed every morning, put on my high heels and with grace and grit, and an eternal heart full of gratitude and kindness, crush the day ahead. Then, play that on repeat every day afterwards.
The knowledge of life’s fragility isn’t lost on me; I’ve felt it in my bones repeatedly. There have been lots of hard days but hard days are better than no days.
Perhaps, I don’t drink now but if music and writing can give the same effect, why spend what little money I have on alcohol anyways? My son needs new cleats for his continually-growing feet so, sorry, Sam [Adams], you’re not coming home with me and we won’t be meeting out at a bar.
In an interview, Hathaway stated that when her 18-year alcohol boycott is done, she plans to move to a vineyard and to spend the back half of her life completely sloshed and sun-drenched.
When my 20-year boycott ends, I’ll be 50. Whether 50 becomes the new 21, is yet to be determined. If it doesn’t, I’ll just keep on with cranking up the music and dancing in random parking lots – or will people not want to see a 50-year-old, former baseball mom, dance? Does it change the reader’s opinion to know that that 50-year-old, way back in the mid 90s, won the Scholar Athlete Award in the Dance Division at States?
I don’t walk around carrying that award as proof that I can dance, but when the floss was all the craze and my son said I didn’t know how to dance with my hip-hop version of it, the State Championship plaque came out of storage to prove to a boy that his mom knows how to dance.
“Mom, that was like a million years ago” – his math was slightly off, but it’s 100% correct that motherhood [my son], is the absolute best reason to not break on an alcohol boycott, or in any other way.
About the author: Suzanna Parpos works in the field of education. She is a former newspaper columnist with compilations of her columns featured in her books: “A Year on Route 30: One Mom’s Collection of Essays” and “Awakening the Blank Canvas: A Collection of Essays Continues.” Suzanna lives in Framingham, Massachusetts, where she is known for the moon-shaped Greek cookies she bakes and delivers around the city, while wearing stilettos and her camouflage Red Sox baseball hat. Visit her site: www.suzannaparpos.com.