One of the most striking lines of the NYT article is about mothers who have developed alcohol dependencies: “. . . women with the disorder often do not get treatment for their addiction because they fear losing custody of their children.” No frickin’ kidding. There is a whole other social dimension to this that was not raised in the articles. As the mother of an Indigenous child in Canada I would be remiss not to bring up the issue of race and class in child apprehensions due to alcohol abuse. What takes place within the walls of a middle-class suburban home so often goes unnoticed, or is assumed by police, friend, and neighbour witnesses to be “under control”, but not so in poorer areas. Not to mention systemic racism within child welfare organizations. Not to mention the complexity of stress and coping when combined with intergenerational trauma.
Glaring social issues aside, I have to say the New York Times piece about a sober mom was a very powerful read. I find that I feel guilty a lot about how much downtime I need, but the interview with this mom helped me to see that need in a different light. Since I am not using escapism, through alcohol or other means, to deal with the day-to-day stress of being a mom, I need other outlets. Meditation and yoga practice is huge for me in that regard. But a lot of enthusiastic advocates of meditation would tell you that a daily practice is all you need to have enough energy and patience to mother lovingly all day long, and that is not true for me! I need my daily practice, and lots of good quality food, and lots of sleep, and also some downtime spent alone pretty much every day, and an organized family home and schedule. And that seems like a lot for a mom to demand. Especially a stay-at-home mom. Especially in our current culture of isolated moms who watch kids all day without friends and relatives to relieve them. Especially when so many women are working so hard and seem to be able to do so much more than me (but do they really? And don’t other moms view me in just that same way?).
Regardless, those are the things I need to stay happy and present with my family. Maybe it’s time to embrace the fact that I figured that out, and I figured out how to manage our lives so that I can meet those needs for myself (most days at least… more than half the time at least…). Those are healthy coping mechanisms, so maybe I should think of meeting those needs as my strength instead of my weakness.