I’m just going to say it out loud: I’m a good time at parties.
A gooooood time, I tell you, and my friends will all willingly recount at least three stories that involve me, a party and adult beverages.
Okay, probably five stories each and those who attended my 40th birthday party last Fall all had to sign a nondisclosure agreement. Because the first rule of Turning 40 Club is You Don’t Talk About Turning 40 Club.
Since the times my college roommates and I learned how to clandestinely enjoy an adult beverage BEFORE we were adults (ignore this part, Mom…), alcohol has been at the center of every great, epic story my roommates and I share. Did we over imbibe? Yes. Did we act like morons? Absolutely. Did we act responsibly? Sort of (there was no operating of heavy machinery and no animal testing was done). Am I eternally grateful EVERY DAY that Facebook and Twitter were NOT around when we pulled our shenanigans? You bet your Corona I am. We were young, we experimented, and we have the stories to prove it…at least, the ones we remember, that is.
After college, Hubby and I lived in a major city and it was eight years until we procreated. EIGHT YEARS of being a double income, no kids couple in a major city and without huge responsibilities. Yes, he had school and I had a grown up job, but, mostly, the city and it’s extensive bar scene was our playground. Did we over imbibe? Yes. Did we act like morons? Yup. Did we act responsibly? Let’s just say: thank goodness for mass transit and the ability to walk home from a bar. We were in our twenties, we tested limits and we have the stories to back it up. And holy hell, if Instagram was around, I’d probably be in jail….but I digress.
Around the time we became parents, our partying ways changed a bit but not much. Because toddlers go to bed early, we’d still be able to have friends over rather easily and entertain in the comfort of our home. And, because toddlers can’t talk, we didn’t have to answer questions about our misbehaviors. Read: toddlers didn’t care that we were hungover in the morning after a big night of wine and board games with neighborhood friends. And, on the rare weekends we could escape for a weekend away, we enjoyed the freedoms that sleep deprived parents do: much wine and soooo much sleeping in the morning after.
For a long time, we were able to get away with not talking to our kids about alcohol, about the bad choices we sometimes make, about the consequences you face when you’ve over done it on a Saturday night.
And then, about a year ago, this happened in my kitchen.
This is me, on my 39th birthday, on my kitchen island, singing 80s music to Hubby (note: NOT HIS REAL HAIR). Call me Captain Obvious but I think it’s PRETTY CLEAR that we were not just drinking sodas that evening as evidenced by the beer bottle by my foot. We weren’t sloppy drunk by any means but, uh, standing on your kitchen island while your neighbors video your antics probably qualifies as making bad decisions while drinking alcohol. For the record, this photo was a HUGE hit on my blog Facebook page….because, naturally, it was worth sharing with my legions of fans. Because dancing on an island while inebriated is FUNNY STUFF.
As my antics ensued, my then 10 year old and 8 year old stood openmouthed as their mother lip synched to ACDC in all my pink boa glory (don’t judge: you do the same when “She Shook Me All Night” comes on, admit it).
Needless to say, it lead to a lot of questions the next morning. A LOT.
As I spoke with them the next morning, headache and all, we had an honest conversation about my choices the night before. I was honest about my past with them and I explained that I once had a life that didn’t revolve around play dates, snacks, sippy cups and homework. We talked about actions having consequences: I told them I’d had too many glasses of wine the night before and that my body was paying for it as I talked to them. We talked about how uninhibited I felt on that kitchen island and I fielded questions about why Daddy and I chose to over imbibe once in a while.
I was honest with them because I want them to be honest with me when the time comes. I want to answer their questions now, when they are willing to have a dialogue, well before they are at their first high school party and trying to decide whether or not to join the crowd around the keg.
I am a realistic parent: my kids will drink when they shouldn’t, they will experiment with cocktails and limits and they will make mistakes. Because I did the exact same thing. From the time they were small, I always knew I’d be an open, honest and engaged parent when it came time to discuss alcohol and drugs with my kids. Let me be clear: in no way do I condone underage illegal behaviors however, I want my kids to have forthright information floating around in their heads as they formulate decisions in the coming years. I want them to understand that actions have consequences, that alcohol can be enjoyed responsibly by adults and that their parents will help them make those choices as they grow.
And this is why I love what Responsibility.org is doing with their #TalkEarly and their #RefreshYourFunny campaigns. Their mission is to help parents like myself talk to our kids and talk often about the dangers and trappings of alcohol. They are working to remind us that our children are always watching, always modeling our behaviors and they will make decisions based on our actions as they grow up. I was THRILLED when I heard they were holding a writing contest for bloggers to share their message because I understand and support what they are doing. And the $500 First Prize doesn’t hurt either….ahem.
My kids saw me in a pink feather boa on my kitchen counter and I’m glad that they did. I wouldn’t trade the discussions we’ve had with them since then for all the limes in Corona bottles. Yes, Mommy acted silly, but Mommy acted in a legal, semi-responsible way in her own home. Was it embarrassing? Sure. Did I feel a little humiliated? I’d be lying if I said no. But, my kids got to see a side of me that existed before they were born and I think that’s okay, too. They got to see their mother as a human who makes mistakes sometimes and who’s willing to talk about those mistakes openly with them.
And as for those Sanctimommies who will crucify me for acting like a heathen in front of my kids? YOUR kids are the ones my kids will have to worry about….just sayin.
Please note: Though I am submitting this piece to Responsibility.org to their writing contest and might (fingers crossed!) win a monetary prize for my participation, the opinions and thoughts expressed here are entirely my own. And, let’s face it: when they say a picture is worth a thousand words, I *think* they meant me and my pink boa are worth 500 smackers…. ahem.