Sunday, August 16, 2009

In this case, is you.

Unlike Stefanie Wilder-Taylor, I am not an alcoholic, or a "drunk" as Joe Queenan so perfectly terms it.

Stefanie is the celebrated mom blogger (I never head of) who apparently developed quite a following among mothers who can't wait to pop that cork or unscrew that cap everyday around cocktail hour, even with the care of their young children still front and center in their lives. Today's article in the Times informed me that there are plenty of mostly stay-at-home women out there who find motherhood dull or boring or stressful or ceaselessly repetitive and without that daily fix from a bottle, they couldn't quite bear it.

I don't know what makes me more aggravated - the fact that these poor women are acting like victims, or the fact that the title of Wilder-Taylor's upcoming book, It's Not Me, I's You, is also the title of this blog, and also the book I wrote many years ago that unfortunately remains unsold.

I'm not completely heartless about problem drinking. In fact, I'm more attuned to it than many, having grown up with too many demons and too much alcohol in my house and in my life. I have girlhood memories I prefer not to dredge up because about forty years later, they are still very painful.

But poor Stefanie. She found success writing about her motherhood angst, celebrated her "I'm me..I'm more than my children's mother!!" outlook with her online happy hour blog, surrounded by like-minded women, and now she has had her come-to-Jesus moment and confessed she has a problem with alcohol. And, like all good moralistic tales, her loyal readers are now writing to her, thanking her for inspiring them to quit, too.

God help me I can't stand this. As noted in the article, her blog "now includes passages of her sobriety related tenderness." That's just charming, isn't it? In other words, "Whoops kids! I guess it's no fun to have mommy laying around with a hangover or passing out for the night in the living room." Excerpt: "On May 23, I awoke on the couch dressed. [Note: I interpret 'awoke on the couch dressed' as 'passed out the night before.'] I thought, 'I have these kids who are depending on me," she said, weeping on the phone, 'and I have a bad problem...' "

Well, thank god. Just in time for her third book to be published, she figured it out. But won't that put her in the category of every other mother on the planet who publishes a book [and it is every other mother on the planet, except me] about just how darn fun and rewarding it is to be a mother, sans alcohol? Wasn't her belief in the sanctity of 'mommy and merlot' the platform upon which she built her printed and virtual empire? What now?

She admits as much. "It's embarrassing to be all rah Rah Rah! Goooo BOOZE! only to zip off with my tail between my legs saying, 'never mind, I've joined the other team,' but that's what I had to do."

Excuse me? It's embarrassing? That's what it is? I'd call it pathetic. Or self-indulgent and narcissistic. Or entitled and selfish. You're 'embarrassed' because you've realized that drinking and being a mom are probably not a great combination? (I'm sure you still cash those royalty checks from your publisher, though, right? Or is that embarrassing, too?)

And what do you mean: the other team? The team of moms who don't get drunk every night to ease the idea of staying home with their children by having "cocktail play dates?" The ones who don't cheer each other on and have their own private jokes about the stupifying yet uplifting effects of alcohol?

If I know publishing, which I probably don't, given my unpublished book, we can count on a follow up where she slips back into her former celebrated bad habits and how she deals with that whole episode in her life.

I don't have the stamina to actually go online and read her blog. I'm too aggravated right now. But I wonder how her kids are doing. I wonder what they thought about their mother and how what they did factored into her daily drinking and the panic she felt if she didn't have chilled bottle waiting for her every night and instead she "had to grit her teeth and wait until [her] husband came home at 8..."

I have a guess: maybe it wasn't so fun for them. Maybe leaving play dates with a mommy who is a little less attentive than when they arrived was slightly disconcerting. Maybe they've started to equate a wine bottle sitting on the kitchen counter at 4 pm with an evening that's not going to end well. I don't know, as I said, I'm guessing.

Maybe "It's Not Me, It's You" will find the perfect audience. Assuming they're all sober enough to crack it open and read it one night.

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