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Sally Kohn's picture

Since becoming a mom, I've learned the importance of drinking.

Being a parent is hard. So hard that it makes me question evolution. If reproduction is a biological necessity for our species, then why is parenting so damn hard? Darwin has some explaining to do. Or maybe Freud.

I have a five-year-old daughter named Willa. She's wonderful but she gets up entirely too early every morning and is way too resistant to going to bed at night. The result is that my partner and I are basically constantly exhausted. And so although for the first 31 years of my life I never really relied on caffeine, I now consume it like a necessary fuel to propel my day. I'm kind of afraid of needles, but if there were a personal intravenous caffeine drip, I would seriously consider it. Similarly, while I wasn't much of a booze hound for most of my life, now I crawl toward that glass of wine (or more) at the end of the day like a man in the desert crawling toward a watery mirage. Except it's not a mirage. It is real and good and numbing.

From time to time, I quit both caffeine and alcohol. This is part the judgmental asceticism of my mother hovering in my consciousness like a vengeful Jewish Yoda. And part reading too much about Gwyneth Paltrow's cleanses, as though if I deny myself enough I will get her thighs. It's nice to know I'm not an alcoholic or a caffeine addict; here I should note that being so would be very bad for my child or any child. At any rate, inevitably I survive a day or two of withdrawal and morph into cranky mom — or, to be fair, I should say crankier mom — an even more tired and prickly shell of my otherwise happily buzzed self. And then, just before I presumably achieve the waist-size benefits of the fast, I give in. I blame a sleepless night or free drinks at a cocktail party. But the truth is, in moderation, I'm happier drinking.

Parenting is all about denial. I don't get to sleep in on weekends anymore. I don't get to go on vacation and read a book and just relax. I don't get to spend my money or my time with utmost selfishness. It's worth it. Those moments when my daughter catches a ball for the first time with one hand or sounds out a big word or simply turns to me and gives me a hug for no reason whatsoever are the most sweet and stunning moments of my life. So I try and tell myself that all those moments are worth not only the hard parts but the denial, the abstaining from everything my life once was pre-motherhood. Which is true. I think. But even still, that little sip of indulgence from a mug or a glass tastes almost just as sweet.

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