Caffeine in the morning, alcohol in the evening. It is a simple regimen that gets many (most?) people through life. For parents, it makes even more sense. Perk up in the morning after months/years of sleep deprivation. Mellow out at night after a long day of multiple, competing responsibilities. A cup of coffee, a glass of wine — they make a day doable. But lately, now that I need them most, I find myself physically unable to take advantage of them.
I have always been sensitive to caffeine and avoided it even through college. The appeal never outweighed the bowel bedlam, tidal waves of anxiety, and crash that often ended in tears. But 15 months in to motherhood, working full-time and waking before 6, it feels impossible to get started without it. My intake has crept up, from green tea, to two English breakfasts, to half-caff, to a single espresso, to a small coffee, and I’m now pondering the large. I have noted a linear correlation between the number of zits on my face and amount of caffeine I drink. The stomach acid, nervousness, and crying are getting worse, not better. But I need it.
Then there’s my friend alcohol. I was the person who announced her pregnancy to friends by saying, “No beer for me tonight.” A half bottle of Napa cab used to be called Tuesday. And let’s not forget that this blog is named after a cocktail. Now, wow. I feel it the next day if I have had one drink. Uno. Beyond one, it’s a full-on hangover, even if I never felt tipsy. I know I’m not in my twenties anymore, but can’t a momma enjoy a second margie without paying dearly?
I guess I am in the denial, anger, bargaining, and depression stages of grieving the loss of these substance in my life. (Is there a whining stage?) I keep caffeinating and drinking though I know it makes me feel worse instead of better. I feel it’s “unfair” that my body can’t handle these things, even in such small amounts. I feel I “deserve” to have them, and I’m pissed that other people can. I don’t want to let them go, my comforts, my crutches, especially at this stressful juncture of adulthood.
My husband jokes that if I really “work at it,” I can make my comeback, push through the pain to a place where self-medicating feels good again. But we both know that acceptance of my limitations will be the better route. I’m rolling my eyes and making gagging/vomit sounds as I type this, but I’m betting I’ll find new pleasures to replace these old comforts, snuggles and baby smiles my new drugs of choice. (Bleeeeeehhhhhhhrrrgh.)
Post script: off the coff for a week now and feeling much better, thanks.