According to many statistics, alcohol sales outside of bars and restaurants have grown since the pandemic started. With uncertainty and stress filling our every day, many have turned to wine, beer, or mixed drinks to help unwind after overseeing a day filled with virtual learning or to take their mind off the crushing doom they feel.
Meanwhile, I’ve stopped drinking.
I had often turned to alcohol as a coping mechanism — when I was having a hard time at work, when introverted me was trying to network, other times I was struggling. Since becoming pregnant with my oldest, I’ve worked on decreasing my drinking. I even asked my workplace to cut back on social activities centered around alcohol.
But last year, with two kids, two jobs, and a draining commute, I again found myself drinking a beer or two a night, either with dinner or at the bar at North Station while I was waiting for my train home. It stopped being a treat and more a given.
Once March came along, I found myself working endlessly. My job involved working at a local university and developing processes to secure housing for students who had no place to go once our campus closed. I would go to the office, commute home, get home just in time to put the kids to bed, and go back to working.
I wanted a beer. I needed one. The stress was too much. But alcohol doesn’t just help me unwind — it makes me incredibly sleepy. The older I get, the worse it is. So if I needed to stay up until 1 a.m. to work, beer was the last thing I needed. So I refrained — I found myself going days and weeks without any alcohol.
Even after the initial rush of COVID work finished and I found myself working from home with a preschooler and a toddler on my lap, I couldn’t drink. I needed to make up work time after they went to bed each night, so relaxing once they were in bed became a thing of the past. Night had to become my most productive time.
So while my husband (who kept working outside the home) was definitely in the “drinking uptick” category, my drinking ground to a halt.
So how have I dealt with my stress? I haven’t. I’m still incredibly stressed. But drinking alcohol would only add more stress because it would interfere with the limited control I have in my life at the moment. I can either numb myself and fall behind in work and parenting, or I can do my best to keep it all together. I’m walking a fine line as it is, and drinking would make my balancing act incredibly unsteady.
I don’t judge those who have a glass of wine at night — I’m almost jealous of them! My enjoyment of alcohol is now limited to — at most — one day a weekend, when I have my weekly football and a margarita. To be honest, I have even had to give that up the last few weekends because of work or family obligations.
The pandemic and the demands of work and family have almost erased alcohol from my life. That might be a good thing. I’ve realized that to be the best mom and professional I can be, I can’t be a “coffee at nine, wine at five” mom. It is a welcome reset.