I soon learned as a married, stay-at-home mother that if I remained drunk about 40 percent of my waking hours, I really enjoyed it. That is not true. I did not calculate percentages. Also, I did not particularly enjoy it.
I would go to the store to "buy groceries for a nice dinner" and come back with a couple nice bottles of wine, for our nice dinner, which I would drink while I cooked. At our actual dinner I would have more wine and a cocktail or two. (They do not write this in the "new mom" brochure we get when they discharge us from the hospital, but perhaps they should.)
I drank for relief. I drank because from my first sip at sixteen, alcohol felt like peace, like coming home after a long and arduous journey. Anticipation of the day's first glass was a rush of lifted spirits within me-energy, comfort, being-and by glass number two, I began to feel the way I thought I should feel all the time.
Drugs would do the same, but they required such commitment- transactions with people I didn't know, dealers refusing to return my calls. After Ava was born, I was a drug dabbler. I was a fucking grown-up, after all, a mother.
More realistically, what saved me from narcotics was that I lived on a ranch ten miles outside an excessively vanilla college town where "partying" looked like nineteen-year-olds doing keg stands, not bumps of cocaine in bathroom stalls.
And I wasn't seeking drugs because I had alcohol, which was enough-mostly because it was reliable. You could get a bad baggie. You couldn't get a bad handle of Grey Goose. Plus, everyone drank. I could cling to alcohol like it was my last breath of air, but as long as I hid my desperation, the world would assume I was motherly, even sophisticated. They would believe the polish of laughter and smiles, as long as I never looked too excited.