The thing about being a high functioning alcoholic is that you have to learn to prioritise.
There are not enough sober hours in the day to keep absolutely everything functioning perfectly, so you learn to pick your battles.
In my life, priority number one was keeping the children (and husband) happy. Properly fed, clothed, achieving. Homework done, music practice done, playdates arranged and executed, homemade costumes created for various 'dress up days', cakes created for bake sales, and so on. That, in itself, is a full time job.
Next in line is the house. We have an old, relatively big (for London) house which we can't afford to maintain properly. So not only do I have to make sure that it's clean and tidy, but I'm also constantly running around with pots of filler, damp proof paint etc, trying to stop it looking as if it's about to fall down (which it is).
After the house and its inhabitants comes me. And, I confess, personal grooming had started to slip a little. Who has time for appointments with the gym, the dental hygienist, the eyebrow threader or the waxing lady when there's serious 'socialising' (aka drinking) to do at the weekend, as well as all the house-kids-and-husband stuff? Not me.
And right at the bottom of the list? The garden. All too easy to shut the doors and just pretend it wasn't really there. Especially in the winter. Between the months of October and March the only member of the SoberMummy household who spent any time in the garden was the dog. With inevitable consequences.
Once the man from Sky arrived unexpectedly early for an appointment to fix a satellite dish. It had been raining for several days and I hadn't been into the garden to 'clear the lawn'. The man from Sky refused to erect his ladder on our lawn due to 'health and safety' and hot footed it back to HQ. God I felt like a slut.
But now I have eons more time. And over the last two days I have totally transformed my garden. The lawn is manicured. The borders are weeded. I took all the old, broken, plastic garden toys to the dump. I've planted lots of bedding plants. I've trained honeysuckle and clematis over the old Wendy House.
There's a little herb garden outside my kitchen door. I've even ordered an outdoor sofa (cost: a massive 30 bottles of wine equivalent, but worth it). And today we have two families coming round for a barbeque.
And not only is my garden looking lush (the only lush in the SM house now), but the act of gardening has given me a real high.
It appears that I'm not the only one to discover this. Apparently researchers have proved that gardening lowers blood pressure, increases brain activity and produces an 'upbeat feeling.' MIND - the mental health charity - has funded 130 ecotherapy projects across England.
It's believed that gardening works by providing a sense of 'control', which is the psychological nemesis of stress and anxiety. Plus, the act of gardening is a form of Mindfulness - it makes us focus on the 'now' and takes our minds off problems in the past, or fear of the future.
Even looking at gardens helps produce a sense of calm. The notorious New York jail - Riker's Island - uses horticultural therapy to clam prisoners and prepare them for release.
I remember a fabulous scene in Sandra Bullock's film 28 days (about an addict going into rehab). One of the rehab 'inmates' asks the counsellor when they can start dating. The counsellor replies that first they should buy a pot plant and try to keep it alive. Then try the same with a pet. Only once the plant and pet are still alive and thriving for a year should they think about trying the same with another human.
My new plants will, hopefully, thrive and grow, providing a living 'sober counter'. And we won't have any more problems with our satellite TV.
Have a great weekend all of you! And, to my UK friends, it's a Bank holiday woo hoo!