Bringing Family to the Foreground


Yesterday was my daughter’s first day of first grade, exactly one year after her first day of kindergarten. So of course I couldn’t help myself and in a moment of mommy nostalgia I found and scrolled through the photos from her milestone first day last year.

There were posed photos outside the front door, then getting on the bus. Photos of my sweet son waiting in the rain for her to get home that afternoon. And then photos of the little celebration we had for her when she arrived. There are pictures of my happy kids, the little cake we ate, and decorations we made.

I had almost forgotten about the wine glass pictures. And a sinking feeling hit my stomach when I saw them.

Featured prominently on the kitchen counter in the foreground is my wine glass, filled generously with sauvignon blanc. This would have been at about 3:45 PM, but hey, we were celebrating. Of course I had to have wine. In the background are my kids, sitting at the counter happily eating their cake.

And isn’t that just exactly it. Wine was always in the foreground. Of my brain, of my life. And everything else – my kids, my husband, my self – was in the background. Out of focus.

What do I feel when I force myself to look at these pictures? Pity. Embarrassment. Regret. Anger, maybe? Disappointment, for sure.

I feel so distant from the person who thought that they were funny. I know that’s a good thing, but it feels… weird.

And then I remember: choose curiosity over judgment. I try not to judge others and I need to apply the same principle to my wine mom self. Because I honestly didn’t know any better. I knew that wine wasn’t good for me but I had no idea how bad it actually was. I honestly thought that wine helped more than it hurt. That it made me feel happier and more relaxed. The puffiness and grogginess were just the price to pay for those fleeting moments of fabulousness. And I thought I deserved them both: the fabulousness and the misery that inevitably followed.

When I realize now, after 176 cumulative days of booze breaks since the start of Dry January, is that the fabulousness – authentic, not faux – I was seeking only exists beyond the bottle. I also know now that I don’t deserve misery to be the flip-side of flying high, and I never did.

So let me return to the photo, this time reminding myself to be curious and empathetic instead of judgmental and upset. What do I see?

I see happy smiling faces in the background. In the composition of the photo I see a glimmer of creativity, when I know that the woman who took this picture thought her creative side was dead. I see a mama behind the camera who loves her kids a whole lot, and who wanted to make her daughter’s first day of elementary school special.

Instead of being ashamed of the mom who thought wine made a good photo op on her daughter’s first day of kindergarten, I choose to be grateful. Grateful for how far I have come. Grateful that I had the guts to do the work to get my family and myself back in focus. Grateful that wine will never be in the foreground – of my photos, my brain, or my life – again.

6 thoughts on “Bringing Family to the Foreground”

    1. Congrats on your Day 1! And I’m so happy you found me. Please keep in touch and let me know how it goes for you. Know that you are doing a great thing for yourself and though it will not be easy, it is SO worth it. I’m here for you. Keep me posted!

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  1. I have been following you on ww and then Instagram. Im wondering if you think you’ll go back to drinking after the year? I just read ‘the Sober Diaries” and “a Happier Hour” and think I need to cut back and stop for a while, but wondering if a while = forever. You have defined your journey (for now), so I’m curious. Ps, I have not read thru all your blog posts, so you may have addressed (sorry).

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    1. I am so sorry I just realized I never replied to this! The answer is I don’t know. I don’t want to want to go back, if that makes sense. But I still can’t imagine my life without alcohol forever. It may just be a day by day decision. “Forever” brings a lot of pressure and none of us need to be burdened with that! But I have to say I did choose to be AF for a year in the hope of ending up being AF forever. Not ready to commit yet though.

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  2. Before I quit, I could count on one hand the number of candid, social photos of me not holding a glass of wine. I hate it. Glad I made the change, and glad for you. Congratulations on your streak!

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