The kids were finally down. Not asleep, but contained in their bedrooms. She was exhausted and overwhelmed. She walked over to the kitchen, poured herself a generous glass of wine and sat down to return the emails that piled up in her three accounts during the few hours she was off-line.
She’d had a 7:30 breakfast meeting that day which meant a superbly early wake up call to get herself and the kids prepped. Two additional emergency projects cropped up at work before noon. In addition to the looming work deadlines, the kids’ school was having a party that she had agreed to supply with food and an hour of volunteering. She accomplished what she could before 5 but had to dash out of the office as it was her night for child care hand off. As she sat on the freeway with thousands of fellow commuters, a radio traffic reporter informed her traffic was being diverted off the road because of a major traffic accident. She looked down at the clock, up at the brake lights, and started to cry.
The stars must have aligned as she arrived home only five minutes late. The frenzied turn over report and round of family hugs was quickly overshadowed by the chorus of howling children when she darted to her bedroom to change out of her suit. She bribed them with ten minutes of Dora the Explorer while she heated up frozen peas, chicken nuggets, and leftover noodles. After spilt milk, rounds of hide and seek, and bedtime stories, it only took 40 minutes to get them to stay in bed.
She deserved that glass of wine. In fact, on days like these, she’d have two.
This week I’m writing a series entitled Working Moms Battlefields. These battlefields are not exclusively reserved for mothers or career women. You might be a full time wife and mom at home and the dozen other places you have to go in a day. You might be a full time career woman who has no children. There is something unique though about the mothers-with-careers pressure cooker that presents multiplying battlefields we must carefully navigate every day lest we step on a landmine.
I do not want to write this series. I wrestled with writing this series because of how poorly it could reflect on me. However, working moms are an army of millions, and I am hoping to at least begin the conversation.
This first battlefield is drinking. I’ve tried to write about drinking six ways to Sunday and always chickened out. I am a Christian. I also do not believe there is anything sinful about having a drink. I do believe it is wrong to get drunk, because the Bible calls that out specifically, but that’s not to say I haven’t ever been drunk. I have been.
Drinking as a working woman is ubiquitous. Most every activity incorporates alcohol in some way. Moms night out features wine as the centerpiece. Cocktail hour is where folks congregate after work. Every charity event, bar association event, or firm event I go to after 5 pm offers a drink. Even if there’s nothing on the calendar during the week, most moms I talk to have a drink after the kids go down. While I don’t have hard alcohol in our home, I certainly have a glass of wine after the kids are down and take in a half hour of some brainless television program.
About a week ago I heard the author of Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol on the Diane Rehm Show. The show left me speechless and my nerves a little raw. Diane and Anne (the author) talked the rise of alcohol abuse in women. Every colloquial bit of information I have seen certainly suggests that. I assure you, before kids I wasn’t having a glass of wine every night.
We are stressed out. High pressure demands and work and home leave us threadbare and weakened. What does a glass of wine before bed hurt?
Nothing. As long as you don’t need it. As long as you don’t crave it. As long as you can do without it. Having a drink periodically, from my perspective, is perfectly manageable. It’s when it gets unmanageable and necessary we’ve need to reevaluate.
Every single battlefield I will tackle this week is one I struggle with and has a singular solution: Self-Control.
Galatians 5, the oft-quoted self-control scripture in the Bible, calls drunkenness an obvious “act of the Flesh.” In the alternative, it recommends:
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
For many, it’s not just as simple as putting the drink down or taking a break. I come with a genetic predisposition to alcoholism. I can still stop drinking, but it is harder and I have to be ever more careful of how slippery this slope is. Some of you may not be able to stop. Some of you may need more than just a glass of wine. For that, there is a deep set of resources available and additional help may be required.
For those of us that have become too reliant on alcohol instead of relying on the strength of God (and family and your friends) to support us on the hard days, could I recommend we consider this the first battle to win? It’s a hard transition to make. Habits are tough to break once they have been established. But for me, I have a supernatural source of strength that I can rely upon for the power and wisdom to walk off the battlefield without stepping on a landmine.
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair. (II Corinthians 4)
But the Lord said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (II Corinthians 12)