I am stressed. Revelation, right? Which parent will not be stressed in 2018? The villages of the 80s and 90s, where children used to be lovingly moved from one home to another, were replaced with judging articles on gluten and screen time. Professionally, I live a variable, freelance life that involves daily pitching and daily refusal. My family saves my son's college education and also pays for his pre-school education. As I write this, the cat has vomited on my bed. As I said, I'm stressed.
My husband Dave likes to help, so on the eve of my birthday a few weeks ago, he decided to bombard me with feel-good gifts: a weighted blanket, knitwear, chocolate, and reference book. "There's one more thing," he said before disappearing to get something out of his car. Like a man with a dark secret, he returned with an embarrassed look and a pack packed behind his back.
"Do it the way you intended," he began. "You said that the birth has changed your reaction to alcohol and you do not like it anymore."
"And you can not turn off your brain when it comes to the baby and work."
"And sometimes you wish you could decompress at the end of the day."
"Well," he said, "do you want to try that?"
He handed me a package of three cans of cannabis mints, all of which had different concentrations of CBD and THC. At the age of 35, I was in the middle of a special after school.
I grew up with drug users. I was never looking for "the stash", but it was always there: behind the lunch box on the deepest kitchen counter, in the back of the cupboard, in the air, which smelled faintly of skunk and pesto sauce. It made me nervous. The secrecy of it, combined with a rocky childhood and the sharp warnings of the local DARE program, formed my early and deep-rooted opinion: drugs were bad, dangerous and a waste of time. And only by my direct associations were the people who used them.
Dave knows that about me, so I could barely imagine him scouring the corridors of a Seattle pharmacy for my birthday present. He decided to invoke my analytical nature: he started a 15-minute scientific presentation on CBD and THC for real engineering. "That stands for cannabidiol and tetrahydrocannabinol," he instructed. The CliffsNotes showed that CBD is the second most common cannabinoid found in the marijuana plant. Often referred to as "non-psychoactive," it is sometimes used to treat anxiety and seizures. THC, like alcohol and other substances, affects the part of the brain that influences decision-making and motor skills. It also has the advantage that there is a euphoric reaction that many stressed-out parents rely on after a long day. Before I lost my tolerance for alcohol, I was never against drinking one or two glasses of wine. The concentration of CBD and THC in my gifted mints, my sweet husband told me, corresponded to the poisoning.
So amused and intrigued by the presentation I also had a question.
"Do you think I have to go up?"
"No, not at all," he said. "I just think you deserve a break."
Alright. Sign me up.
The Saturday after my birthday was the perfect opportunity. I take one during the night time, I thought. My son sleeps about three hours, about as long as two glasses of wine penetrate my system and leave it. A small mint would probably take that long. When he and Dave went upstairs to read a book, I opened 10 milligrams of a CBD / THC combo and turned on the TV.
Nothing happened in the first two hours. Maybe Weed just does not affect me, I thought. Or maybe years of peripheral exposure have built up my tolerance, These thoughts broke at three o'clock as my legs began to grow and the sofa began to sink. Dave watched anxiously.
"What?" I asked.
"Nothing, are you okay?"
"Yeah, I just realized my legs are long, do I turn up?"
"No, you seem like you … with long legs. How do you feel?"
How did I feel? I could not say a word but I can tell you what I did not feel. For the first time in about six years, I did not feel stressed or busy with the familiar trait of my type A brain – the one that never shuts off. I was not worried about the kid, my career, the house or college fund, or the 401 (k). I did not feel much about anything. I was in the moment. I have just was,
The buzz that ends with a nap lasted 9 hours. That included playing with my son and watching four consecutive hours Home improvement Repetitions on Hulu. I was excited.
"This show is so much fun," I said as my son and I snuggled and chewed on handfuls of popcorn.
"We should have two more children – two more boys!" I said to my husband.
"Oh yes," said Dave. "You are definitely up."
Lost Saturday ended as usual with a dinner followed by an unplanned nap on the sofa. I woke up relaxed and hangover-free. Mine was not a short climax, and I can not say I'll crack another coin soon, especially when my three-year-old is in tow But for parents with a higher tolerance and more experience I could see the occasional lozenges as a useful alternative to anti-anxiety drugs or "wine clock", both of which have similar effects and – inexplicably – half of the stigma.
Right now I have lifelong food on the top shelf of my closet and I do not feel like a bad person – or a bad mother. And it is possible that opening the door to a therapeutic coin after my son goes to sleep on a Saturday night may lead to a more relaxed Sunday. I could use more of that.
Sarah Szczypinski lives as a journalist in Seattle. Find her on Twitter @ SarahSz23,
consequences About parenting on Facebook For more essays, news and updates, and visit our Discussion group here talk about parenting and work. You can Sign up here for our weekly newsletter.
In the uncharted territory of the twenties, I feel like I've lost my mom Mojo
Why I stopped so hard to find "mother friends"
When my son insisted his BFF was a video game elf, it was time to work on friendship