A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

Tag: wine

84 days and counting

I have been sober for 84 consecutive days.

It was February 22 when I gave up my beloved wine for Lent. I was hoping it might just be the one change I needed to kick start a series of other healthy changes. It had been a long, sedentary winter and my chronic depression was rearing its ugly head. I knew in my heart that my daily wine habit was only making things worse.

Well, I’m happy to report that indeed, giving up the hooch has made a huge difference in my mental and physical health.

The first few weeks were pretty ugly. Looking back, my body was clearly in withdrawal. And even though my daily consumption was never the kind of thing that anyone would ever question (1-2 glasses, max), it was obviously enough for my body to become dependent.

I tried to be gentle with myself by making healthy substitutions like a cup of green tea every afternoon instead of wine. Focusing on all the good I was doing for my heart and skin with that green tea made me think less about my wine, whose loss I was definitely grieving.

I also ate jellybeans by the fistful those first 6 weeks to keep my sugar cravings at bay. I’m pretty sure that’s why jellybeans are associated with Easter…to keep all the struggling Lenten promise-makers alive.

And then came Easter, the ultimate celebration on the Christian liturgical calendar, and the exciting conclusion to all our Lenten sacrifices.

Only, by the time Easter arrived, I felt so much healthier and less depressed by just giving up my daily wine habit, that I decided to stay the course.

So here we are. Eighty-four days later.

The extreme sugar cravings are finally gone. My temper and sleep patterns seem to have improved as well. And oh my God, what is this strange feeling? Is it happiness? I think it is! Shut the front door! I am happy.

I haven’t started consistently exercising yet. But I do find myself drinking a lot more water every day and not spending so much time in front of the TV. As a result, I’ve lost about 5 pounds. Now my former muffintop is more like a small dinner roll, which makes me feel so much less depressed. I was right! One small healthy choice begets other healthy choices. Well, what do you know!

Last month, my In the Powder Room colleague Heidi wrote a poignant post “Why I’m a better mother when I don’t drink” that really resonated with me. Heidi found that not only did her relationships improve while she tee-totaled, but her capacity for joy increased as well. I couldn’t agree more. The feelings! Good God, the feelings I have now that I’m not so comfortably numb every afternoon…so worth it.

So I take it back. Turns out, I’m not a better mother on the sauce. I was just too numb to know it.

I can’t say for certain that this is the path I will walk forever…I’m just taking it one day at a time. But I will say this: it’s working for me right now, and that is all I need to know.

Originally published at In the Powder Room, May 15, 2012. 

I’m a better mother on the sauce.

Last week my In the Powder Room colleagues Clare, Lerner, and Heidi all discussed their drinking habits, so I thought it only befitting that I belly up to the bar {ahem} and confess about my own love affair with the bottle. There’s strength in numbers, after all.

So yes, I drink a little.

I had my first drink when I was 13 at a friend’s house: Sloe Gin mixed with 7-UP. They went down smooth and easy and left one hell of a stain on my mother’s carpet when I upchucked them in the middle of the night. Sorry about that, Mom.

The next two decades are a blur.

Sure, there were times I drank too much and ended up in potentially dangerous situations. If I hadn’t been so drunk maybe I wouldn’t have gone home with that guy, or started that knife fight, or jumped off that roof into that motel pool. Never did find that bra, by the way.

I guess I’m lucky to have survived. Aren’t we all?

Nowadays, I’m a busy work-from-home mother of three children and my tastes have evolved to wine…one or two glasses every night.

Sometimes when I’m really busy, if I make it to 8 PM without a glass, I can go without and not even miss it.

But most days, I’m looking at my watch around mid-afternoon wondering when it will be acceptable for me to pour my first glass and take the edge off. Wine O’Clock varies based on the day, the weather, and my menstrual cycle.

I will tell you though: even though I like my wine, I have never put my children in any danger while under the influence, at least none that I can remember.

Kidding. No need to phone that one in, okay?

I have friends who are alcoholics and others who are teetotalers. One thing that is universal: people want to label others. It makes us feel better. My friends who drink tell me there is nothing wrong with my daily drinking habits, “You’re not an alcoholic! I drink way more than you do.” While the ones who abstain say the opposite: “You drink EVERYDAY? Whoa.”

Sometimes it’s hard to know what’s normal.

One of my friends and her husband recently gave up drinking all together. They were concerned they had been setting a poor example for their kids.

I argue that if my kids see me drink responsibly, in moderation, maybe they will learn how to do that for themselves someday.

My parents definitely didn’t drink on a daily basis when I was a kid, and look how I turned out.

One thing I know for sure, after a long day in the suburbs, a little nip of wine soothes my savage inner beast. It quiets the voices in my head, as well as those nagging/whining/crying/fighting little voices outside of my head.

I’m a better mother on the sauce. Just ask my kids. Wherever they are.


Originally published by In the Powder Room, December 13, 2011.

What I Wore Wednesday

I have a confession to make.

I’m not much of a fashionista.

You know that cute outfit I wore for my big photo shoot with my BFF Laura a few years back?

Designer denim, close-fitting top, industrial-strength bra, chunky necklace, leopard peep-toe heels…

I don’t really dress like that most of the time.

In real life, I’m more of a sweatpants/man’s t-shirt/comfortable shoes/ponytail/no make-up kind of gal. In other words, Frumpasaurus Rex.

Truly, if you ran into me at the Piggly Wiggly, you probably wouldn’t even recognize me. That’s kinda my evil-genius-plan, actually.

Of course, it never works out that way. Like the Murphy’s Law of Fashion, if you ever want to guarantee you’ll run into someone you know, leave the house in your pajamas or house cleaning clothes (aka, my daily uniform).

Speaking of which, last Monday afternoon, little Bucket Head and I ran to the store for a couple of last minute staples (i.e. wine and kale).

Anyhooo… as I’m walking to my car in my flip flops, dirty cargo pants, and tomato stained t-shirt, I saw a striking woman smiling at me. No lie, this lady looked like a movie star. She had on short-shorts (with the legs to pull it off), sassy wedge heels, a peasant blouse, huge sunglasses, and her hair was Farrah Fawcett perfect. She almost blinded me with her luminescent smile. I wondered why she was smiling at me. Was my fly down? Toilet paper stuck to my shoe? Was Bucket Head shaking his groove thing? That’s when it dawned on me…OMG, I know her.


Hold it right there, Bub. Don’t assume she’s 23 years old just because she’s a student teacher with killer gams in a trendy getup. Welcome to Atlanta, honey. This foxy lady is a full-grown woman with three kids ages 10 and up! I would have guessed she was in her mid thirties.

My first thought: SHIT – I hope she doesn’t see these two gigantic boxes of wine in my cart! Then I thought, well damn, maybe it will earn my child some sympathy points… as in, “Bless her heart, her mama’s a lush and all.”

The next day, Mini-Me said “Mrs. Fletcher told me she saw you at the grocery store yesterday. I just love her. She’s SO pretty. Mom, can you believe she’s 41 years old, just like you? I mean she looks so young!!!”

{mwah mwaaaaaah}

Fuck. A. Duck.

And I don’t say that lightly. Ducks have super scary penises, FYI.

So I was feeling even frumpier than usual when I happened upon this post by a sassy new blogging sistah, Heather. It confirmed my suspicions that I should probably put a little more effort into my everyday outward appearance.

pleated poppy

The comments from that post lead me to another post called What I Wore Wednesday by the adorable and totally-not-frumpy-looking Lindsey over at The Pleated Poppy. There, women from all over the blogosphere are linking up to showcase cute outfits they wore the week before.

And that reminded me of this post from last week by Megan over at Declutter Daily. Megan is my decluttering hero. She only has 24 things in her closet! Here’s what she has to say about that:

More recently I am finding that I  tend to look more put together,  mostly it’s just the difference between a blouse and a t-shirt, nothing big. I guess it is because everything is easy to find; accessories, shoes, scarves- I know where they are and the choices are not overwhelming.

Put all these events together and what do you get? A fashion show! Yep, I peeled off my nacho cheese and dog hair encrusted sweats and put together a real outfit today, with a bra and lipstick and everythang!

Wanna see? (Oh just humor me and look. I’m obviously starved for attention.)

"Oh Niles, you cheek! Of course I'll star in your British mini-series about frumpy Americans!"

"Ack, the nerve. He cast someone else for the role! Didn't he see my jiggly grandma arms?!"




"Fine. Forget the mini-series. Who do I have to fuck to get some unbroken taco shells?"

"Ewwwww. Ike's been eating crayons again. Dammit. And you wonder why I drink."



So that’s What I Wore Wednesday. And wouldn’t you know it? I didn’t see a single person I knew. Figures.

And that’s why I’m wearing it again today, and probably tomorrow too. Although I paired it with some leopard flats and a coral cardigan today, just so people won’t think I’m homeless.

Bucket Head took this action shot... he's only 4, give him a break.

Here are the details of my ensemble, just in case you want to emulate my look, and/or avoid where I shop:

  • Jeans: Levi’s 501, from the men’s department at Kohl’s
  • Tanks: J. Crew (striped tissue tank) & Jockey PJ tank under it
  • Cardigan: J. Crew
  • Shoes: both pairs are from Target
  • Bag: Coach Outlet
  • Bracelet: SERRV Catalog (OMG, it’s on sale!) 

Final verdict? It felt good to be fully dressed in something semi-presentable. I actually felt like people treated me differently…in a good way. Maybe I was just reeking of confidence and commanded more respect. Hey, better than my usual reek of wine, urine, and defeat, I’ll tell you that

Let’s get an expert opinion. Bucket Head? What did you think of Mommy’s new look? 

"Oh SNAP!"

I’ll take that as a compliment.

Here’s to making an effort!


PS – If you haven’t yet, please “like” The Bearded Iris at Babble.com’s list of the Top 50 Mom Blogs. One vote per device. If I make it into the top ten, I’ll tell you the story about the time I shot a man.

© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.

How to Communicate with Your Special Someone

A good friend recently forwarded me this handy communication guide, suggesting I print it out and place it in my husband’s wallet:





What’s for dinner?

May I help you with dinner?

Where would you like to go for dinner?

Here, have some wine.

Are you wearing that?

You sure look good in brown!

WOW! Look at you!

Here, have some wine.

What are you so worked up about?

Could we be overreacting?

Here’s my paycheck.

Here, have some wine.

Should you be eating that?

You know, there are a lot of apples left.

May I get you
a piece of chocolate with that?

Here, have some wine.

What did you DO all day?

I hope you didn’t over-do it today.

I’ve always loved you in that robe!

Here, have some wine.

Come on. It’s funny, because it’s true… which inspired me to make today’s Just the Tip Tuesday post all about communicating with your special someone.

The Gatekeeper (my husband) and I have a challenging time communicating now and then. Oh, who am I kidding… all the time. He thinks it’s just a man vs. woman thing. That’s part of it, sure. Men and women are definitely wired differently. Maybe if I included words like “bacon” and “blow job” in more sentences, he’d listen better. And he’d definitely have my undivided attention if he poured me a glass of wine and gave me a foot massage. No lie.

If you ask me, I think our failure to communicate is often a byproduct of our fast-paced, high-tech world. Too many distractions, information overload, and connecting through Tweets and texts are the makings of a piss-poor-communication-sandwich.

Maybe it’s a timing issue too. He loves to talk to me while I’m writing. And I seem to always have something important to tell him the minute he picks up his Crackberry. These conversations never end well. Two days later someone is always lamenting, “But I TOLD you I needed to leave at 5:15!”  or “We talked about this…I need those shirts for my business trip tomorrow.” Oh sure… you may have TOLD me, but was I actually listening? Apparently not. Here’s a rule of thumb in my house: if the fingers are moving, the ears aren’t working.

Recently, I’ve discovered that The Gatekeeper and I have our best talks when we go for walks together (without the kids). No technology, no distractions, just fresh air and exercise. There is probably some scientific reason why walking and talking go so well together. I don’t know why it works, I just know that it does.

Try it. It’s good for your health AND your relationship.

But if that isn’t an option, try one of these adorable talking plastic animals by Camilla Fabbri at Family Chic.

Seriously. How cute is that?! I’m pretty sure she designed this idea to communicate with her kids in a fun, fresh way; but I think you could use well-placed talking plastic animals to communicate effectively with anyone!

Instead of nagging your honey for the nth time about their incessant late night snacking, maybe a cute little plastic piggy placed on the pantry shelf holding a card that says “I love you. Now drop the Cheez-Its so you can lose 15 lbs. and grow old with me.” Just a thought.

Or instead of having to verbally reject your hunka-hunka-burnin’-love when they want a little sumpin’ sumpin’ and you’re curled up on the couch in your L.L.Bean flannel nightie with the heating pad and a bottle of Midol, why not strategically position a little pink pony holding a note that says “IOU”? It’s honest, caring, and direct – three tenets of good communication!

In summary, communicating effectively is an important part of any relationship. Show your special someone you care by stepping away from the keyboard, taking a walk together, utilizing small plastic animals in your home, and/or avoiding difficult conversations via strategically poured glasses of wine.

I’m here to help.


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.


Is it me, or are the libidos of men and women totally incompatible?  I really think Ellen and Portia are on to something here.  Not the least of which being that their bathroom is probably so easy to clean.  

I remember hearing once that men reach their sexual prime in their late teens but that women don’t reach theirs until like their 40s.  What the fuck kind of intelligent design is that?  It seems slightly misogynistic. Like God said, “Well, I don’t want women to want sex all the time when they should be busy taking care of their families. I know, I’ll just delay their sexual prime so they can propagate first, play later.”  Clearly God was not taking into account the fact that by the time we are done with all that breeding all our fun parts are too stretched out and ugly to feel good about sharing them with anyone else (at least with the lights on).  

I’m only 38, so I keep telling my husband to wait for it….his time is coming.  Of course by then, he’ll be so old that he’ll need to take Viagra and have his doctor on speed-dial in case he gets a perma-bone. But while we are both patiently waiting for my prime to get here, why oh why does he always seem to want sex at the precise moment when it is the last thing on earth I’d rather do.  OK, true, that is like 99% of the time. But come on.  Gimme a break, dude.  When I begged you to get that vasectomy and promised you spontaneous wild sex wherever and whenever you wanted, I had my fingers crossed behind my back.  

Here, I’ll give you an example.  Husband gets home from work the other day all sexed up and raring to go (must be that sexy voice of Terri Gross on NPR).  His timing could not have been worse.  Unbeknownst to him, I had received my monthly visitor earlier that day. You know, Aunt Flo.  Mr. Menstrual.  The Curse. Paul Revere Riding the Cotton Pony.  I’m bloated, crampy, pimply, gassy, and slightly inebriated.  But Mr. Twenty-Five-Years-Past-His-Prime doesn’t seem to notice all the warning signs and nuzzles up to me hoping for a little slap and tickle.  I say, “Sorry hon. Can’t. Got my period today.”  Oh the look.  You would think I had said that I just spent his retirement fund on another batch of Fat Burning Soap from QVC.  To say he was disappointed would be an understatement. All I wanted was my box of wine, a heating pad, and whichever Meredith Baxter Burney movie was playing on Lifetime TV.  I was also hoping he wouldn’t then ask for a 68: “You do me and I’ll owe you one.”  Luckily for me, he got on the Internet instead.  Hallelujah for free porn.  

If he was my gorgeous lesbian life partner instead, we’d be on the same cycle, sharing an institutional-sized box of Tampons from Costco, watching Lifetime together, guilt free.  But then, who would mow the lawn and grill the steaks?  I guess I’ll keep him.  And here’s hoping for that sexual prime to get here sooner than later.

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