Yesterday I went to Universal Studios with the children, some of their friends, and some of my family. It was a Saturday, spring break, plus it feels like people are making up for lost time from being locked down for two years and ready to be OUT! It was packed. The children were hyped up to be back at a theme park after several years and stoked to be with their friend that they only get to see when we are stateside. As we pulled up Universal Drive the energy and excitement in the car from the four children was palpable.
If you’re a mom, you know how these days go. You are so happy, because you’re kids are so happy. You’re excited because they are excited. When you look at them and see their little eyes light up at the rides and games and characters it makes your heart smile. HOWEVER, let’s also be real. These days are exhausting. There are lines and crowds and often dissension in the ranks as some kids are desperate to see and do certain attractions and others are too scared (or too cool, in the case of tweens.) to participate.
I’d also like to add a small fun fact here about me which you should know. I suck at jet lag. After living in the UK for the past 15 years and going back and forth to California multiple times a year, I still don’t have the hang of it. Not drinking has helped with this situation immensely, because now when I wake up at 3AM I just get stuff done, as opposed to laying there hating myself because I have a hangover.
Suffice it to say, after an early wake-up, the drive, and fuelled only by theme park churros and coffee, I was tired. I was tired but I was so happy to see the children with their friends sprinting around, pointing in the air at Hogwarts and giggling at the minions. Now that I am not drinking, I know that I can get through the long, tiring days because at the end of them, no matter what, I am going to get true, uninterrupted, restorative sleep.
Around 10AM I noticed something. Parents were walking around with beer, wine, and as the day later progressed, neon green and blue cocktails in yard long glasses appeared.
Drinking Christy would have been angling for a glass of wine at some point around lunch and so as we were standing in one of the queues to board our next ride I just thought to myself- “did drinking wine at Disneyland or Disneyworld or here at Universal studios ever make it better?”
I used one of my favourite tactics, “play the tape forward” to think about this- what would drinking at midday with the kids at a theme park usually look like for me? What would happen if I had the drink, what would the rest of the day look like after that? Well, it would mean I would have a glass of wine, feel a little giddy and get goofy with the kids for maybe 30 minutes, but then that dopamine high would wear off (crash) and I’d be desperate for one of two things- 1. Another drink or 2. A nap. I know now that the desperation for another drink or nap is a direct result of the chemical reactions in my brain. And that as much as I used to try, that original quick, temporary wine high is just that- quick and temporary.
Long lines and a busy park with no place to sit, when all you want to do is keep drinking is a recipe for disaster. So after a drink or two I’d probably be desperate to get home so I could lay down. I’d probably try to beg the children to cut the afternoon short so we could get home and sit down. And forget being able to drive home.
When I got home what would I do? Nap? Heck no, I’d be opening up a bottle of wine so that I could sabotage my own sleep and feel even worse the next day. The next morning would be spent with me nursing a hangover, wondering what time lunch would be so I could, you guessed it, have a glass of wine to “feel better.”
That is a tape I know I don’t want to play anymore.
And so yesterday as we were on hour six of Universal Studios and had done most of the park, I looked at those neon drinks (certainly neon ethanol must be double-bad for you right?!) and thought to myself “what would that drink actually add to this day?” and I automatically thought, “Nothing.”
The wine would numb me and dull me down which meant that I would be numbing and dulling the whole reason I was there in the first place, to see and experience our children being happy, excited, children. That’s not something I want to numb anymore.
If the idea of a family holiday or trip to a theme park without wine seems overwhelming to you, believe me, I get it, I have been there. But I’ve learned that the best thing we can do is really get curious and try to empower ourselves by figuring out whether or not the alcohol is adding to the experience, or taking away from it.