08/09/2012 10:43 am ET Updated Oct 09, 2012

Taking a Break from Drinking (on Mondays)


I don't drink on Mondays. Sometimes I'd like to, but I've decided that for at least one day during the week, I need to rest my liver from the wine I drink with dinner each of the other six days. (Note: when on vacation, non-drinking Mondays need not apply.)

I'm not an alcoholic. At least I don't think I am. But I'm trying to figure out when fun drinking becomes serious drinking -- like it did for my mother.

When I was growing up, my French-born mother sipped wine freely and daily. I can picture her in the kitchen, stirring a bubbly cassoulet in a dark blue enamel pot, preparing a plate of cheeses and churning the pepper mill -- with a glass in hand or waiting close by. An habitual part of her cooking process, wine was also served at every evening meal. Long, narrow, green-tinted bottles with strangely spelled words were as much of a staple in our fridge as a container of milk.
Drinking was part of her culture, and a seemingly harmless one. But later in her life, my mother started using wine as a way to escape, numbing herself from demons past and transitions present. My biggest fear is that I may, one day, do the same.

I mean, I do indulge in those regular glasses of vino. And in minutes, they seem to calm me, relax me, dull me from the stresses of my daily life as a freelance writer struggling in an economic crisis, a mother of three -- two of whom are hormonal adolescents -- and the daughter of a depressed, widowed Holocaust survivor.

I try to focus on the good things in my life -- my loving husband, my three healthy, beautiful kids, close friendships and work. But still, I like to drink.

Of course, there were times in my life that I didn't drink for months, and I survived. I can count them for you -- one, two, three -- cause that's how many kids I have. I didn't drink for the first three months of each pregnancy, and then, with my obstetrician's blessing, I had the occasional half glass of wine, and it felt so good. You see, I don't drink simply because of the wine's soothing effects as it enters my blood stream, but also for the taste. The touches of citrus and oak in a complex chardonnay, the berry flavors and tannins that roll from my tongue and down my throat from an intense cabernet -- those are flavors I savor.

I don't think I have a drinking problem. But I can't help but grapple with the question, praying that I don't wake up one day and have this "want" become a "need." So in my effort to keep control, maintain my joie de vivre, be true to my European heritage, and not ever slide down that slippery slope, I'll keep on drinking.

Except on Mondays.