Pairing Wine With Motherhood: Chapter 2
Motherhood, man. It's not perfect, it's not always fun, and it's chock full of "character building" moments. But dang it, it's the best thing I've ever done and my kids are both incredibly sweet and bring me so much joy that it makes all of those not-so-stellar times totally worth it. That being said, I'm going to share some oddly specific and therefore very real situations that I'm sure you'll be able to relate to, and wines to pair with them. Chances are, we mothers have all dealt with many of the same issues so hopefully you can commiserate and laugh along with me. Happy Mother's Day! May your glass be full in every way.
When you discover your toddler's sugar limit
I don't allow my son to eat much candy and while I don't strictly oversee how many grams of sugar he's getting each day, I try to keep "sweets" limited to fruit, honey, and the occasional cookie. Halloween and Easter are the exception to this rule. Last year was fine - he had a few pieces of chocolate and some jelly beans and his behavior was not noticeably altered. This Easter was....different. It didn't seem like he had that much candy, but by the afternoon he was crying to the point of sounding like a howler monkey, there was much flopping and crashing and throwing, he put my shoes in the trash, and he didn't nap for 4 days. Sooooo no more candy for this little dude! If you find yourself in the midst of Candy Crush IRL, I suggest drinking a very, very dry wine to contrast the...sweet behavior of your little angel. I would suggest an Aglianico, hailing from Southern Italy. It has deep berry and cherry flavors, the tannins and acidity are high, and it is usually bone dry. No sugar here!
When all you want for Christmas is a housekeeping service
These days, I clean my house to maintain the appearance of a grenade having exploded in each room as opposed to a nuclear bomb. Want another analogy? Cleaning with two young kids around is like raking leaves during a tornado. While I've accepted it, I don't like it and it stresses me out when I don't have any spare time to make it look less bomby. So, a clean smelling wine is what I crave in a situation like this! Allow me to introduce you to my favorite New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc: Three Brooms Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. The fresh aromas and flavors of grass, bell pepper, and elderflower should overpower whatever linger is in the dining room.
When you discover the reason the floorboards are warping in your child's room
He's been spitting the water from his nighttime sippy cup in its entirety directly onto the floor for an unknown length of time (months?). And I learned this when I stepped in a puddle of it and he told me what it was. At least he's honest! If your toddler is also damaging your house in various ways, I suggest a frustration-free screw top bottle. In the past, this feature has been associated with inexpensive wines, but it can be found on more high end and even premium wines now. However, in this case I would stick to something under $15 as you likely have an expensive floor repair in your future: one of the only sub $10 wines that I drink (I'm such a jerk) is MAN Vintners Chenin Blanc. It goes nicely with waiting for the water stains to appear on your living room ceiling.
When the special for the evening is....
Bedtime with injuries two ways sauteed in tears all topped with popcorn vomit and a side of infant screams.
It's one of those nights. The toddler is messing around trying to delay bedtime, trips and falls face first into the baby's swing, cries (for good reason) and despite all the kisses and hair stroking he continues crying harder and harder until he throws up. Clean up and comforting ensue, tears stop, and the bedtime routine continues. All goes well until little man climbs into bed and smacks his head on the toddler rail and it begins again. And the baby was awoken by the first round of crying and will not settle because she's terrified, so you're left ping-ponging between rooms. I'm sure you have a trainwreck story of equally epic proportions. A long night like this calls for an intense wine with a lingering finish. I'd suggest Mollydooker The Boxer Shiraz. It's full of big berry flavors, it's spicy, a little leathery, and a tasty exclamation point at the end of a dramatic evening.
When you have a moody teenager living in your home
Also known as a "threenager". I thought we dodged the bullet of this phase, but it's rearing its ugly head at 3 1/2. Defiance, sudden and intense changes in desire, and silver screen worthy drama abound. The only advice I can offer so far is that allowing your child to make decisions for any acceptable scenario gives them a feeling of independence, which can improve the mood a la mode:
Orange cup or blue cup?
Apple or banana?
Stairs or elevator?
Pick your underwear!
What do you want to wear today?
And my second piece of advice: don't hold your toddler to the standards of an adult. They're going through a lot of emotional changes, and will be for many years, so try to see the world through their eyes and be their guide. Although, I'm not gonna lie, sometimes it feels like the blind leading the blind. Some days are lovely, others are definitely prepping you for the teenage years. Hang in there, mama. And pour yourself a glass of mature wine. Anything 12 years and older will do! For best results, open a Barolo, Haut-Medoc, or Napa Cabernet Sauvignon and repeat as necessary.
When the screams are surround sound
All the babies are screaming and you are forced to prioritize whom you help first. My most recent episode of this: the baby is crying because she's overtired and I keep getting interrupted before I'm able to bring her upstairs. The toddler has just spilled a glass of water all over himself and is demanding a wardrobe change through sobs. Decision time. A flurry of thoughts are zipping through your brain: "Do I help the toddler and risk the baby losing trust in me?" "Do I help the baby first and risk the toddler resenting her?" "I think I'm going to lose my hearing by 40" "how many hours until reinforcements come home from work?" and the ever present "I'm hungry". The solution to something like this is usually baby steps. I helped my son get out of his clothes and told him that he can pick out an outfit while I put the baby down for her nap. BOOM handled. Just had to process all the thoughts and, later, process a glass of Chablis because it's well balanced, flinty, all green apples and lemons, zesty, and it goes well with just about anything you're going to have for dinner. One less decision that you have to make that day!
When you miss those little rascals when they're sleeping
It's unconditional love, yo. There's nothing that your child can do that will keep you from loving them so fiercely that it hurts. I like to pair this with watching their cutest videos and enjoying a glass of nostalgia.
Because we all have a tantrum story, I'm going to share how I survive one. Believe me, there are plenty of things my son does that push me to my near breaking point. However, public or not, meltdowns actually don't bother me that much. Of course I want them to abruptly end, but I've found that I can more easily demonstrate to my child how to manage his emotions by not letting his behavioral explosion affect how I respond to him. How do I do this? While I'm certainly not always (heck, probably not even that often) a zen mom, I try hard to be one. First, I try to conjure up the image of seeing my little one for the first time and all of the joy, relief, and clean slated-ness that came along with it. That gives me a couple of seconds to let any initial anger/frustration/impatience pass and then respond to my baby with empathy. Then, I try to be as gentle and understanding as I can because I remember what it was like to have big feelings as a kid. I distinctly remember an instance when I was throwing myself on the floor, howling, kicking, and screaming because a friend had to go home from a playdate. I was so overwhelmed with the feeling of something fun coming to an end that my emotions completely overtook reason and I was an angry, thrashing puddle of kid, unable to bring myself back from it until I was able to feel all the feels. Once the big feelings pass, your child is probably much more likely to listen to you and you can talk about what happened. Since I started doing this, the biiiiig meltdowns are rather rare! Unless sugar is involved....God help my shoes.
And now, for the mom victories. When things like this happen, you feel like you're leaving the day with a Hollywood explosion going off behind you as you put on your sunglasses with one hand and fold the stroller closed with the other.
1. Your kid(s) had zero screen time today
2. You were able to leave the playground with zero fusses given
3. Another mom compliments you on your ability to keep your cool
4. You get your child laughing so hard that they almost pee
5. You travel successfully with your children (literally any distance is a victory)
6. Your kid tells you that you're funny
We moms work very, very hard at an emotionally and physically draining job. Often the best therapy for tough days is knowing that you are not alone and that so many other moms are going through exactly the same thing and thinking the same thoughts, despite most not putting it on social media. So consider this me being across the table from you, sharing a bottle of wine and laughing over our ridiculous mom stories. We'll see what next year's post will look like when I have a combo pack of a 4 and nearly 2 year old.... it's a good thing chaos makes me feel alive!
Have a wonderful Mother's Day weekend!