TOTALLY TEETOTALING

Sugar and I have a complicated relationship. Sugar’s the bad-boy boyfriend I find irresistible. Classic cycle: I pledge to leave but fall into his arms at the end of every day.

Not surprisingly, perhaps, when I turned thirty, I was diagnosed with hypoglycemia. My liver was misfiring, making my world spin recklessly like that awful teacup ride at the county fair.

I needed an immediate dietary overhaul. In addition to saying “No thank you” to my favorite carbohydrates, the doctor instructed me to stop drinking alcohol. Completely. Immediately.

Okay, time to give up alcohol. No big deal. Scores of people live happy, productive(er) lives without it. But here’s the kicker: my family’s a collection of amateur wine makers and appreciators. Our basements store wall-length wine racks (stocked, of course), oak barrels actively aging homemade wine and copper grappa stills waiting patiently for fall. Wine and wine making have always been our culture, our passion, identity. Living alcohol-free was going to place me on the wrong side of the bar.

It was difficult to explain my diagnosis to my family. My brother, Greg, took the news particularly hard. He asked, with intense hope in his voice, “How about beer? Lite beer?” At the time Greg had two small sons. My husband and I did not. Greg looked at me sorrowfully and asked, “How are you going have kids?” I laughed-off his question as he added, “Do you have any idea how much we drink after they’re in bed?” I continued laughing.

But then I had kids.

Three years later our first son was born. I left my job to become a full-time Mom. Dirty diapers, dishes and doctor appointments–all mine. So was the fun of watching my infant sons struggle to find their thumbs, sit without falling over and discover the wonders of spaghetti.

Twelve years later, I still get to witness their growth and their journey towards independence. I also get to collect dropped bath towels, step on surprisingly sharp LEGO pieces and field questions like, “Mom, how does energy get inside the battery?”

I adore my sons. They bring me joy and boat-loads of entertaining moments. But some days I just wish l could run away. Some days, I’m sure, they wish I would. And this is why, periodically, at the end of a long day, when my sons are asleep, I’ve been known to say to my husband, “I miss booze.”  He understands. He nods. And sips his wine.

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