It was five years ago. 2018. That was the year I found my then three year old daughter sitting in the middle of the front hallway, late in the afternoon, with her Easter basket in her lap, surrounded by empty wrappers, her tiny face covered in melted chocolate. She was so little, so innocent, just so damn sweet.
The night before Easter morning, I had been up late drinking wine alone on the couch, while Evan fell asleep next to me. I wanted to wait until the kids were fast asleep before I played the roll of Easter bunny - setting out the treats, laying out the plastic, green grass by the door, creating fake bunny footprints outside on the front steps.
I was killing time, waiting for it to get late enough to begin my Easter bunny trickery, but I got restless. I don't remember exactly what I did, but I remember leaving my house to find people to hang out with. I stopped by the neighbors for tequila shots. I wandered down the dark street listening for the sounds of laughter and friends. I made my way over to my other neighbors for more wine, because I smelled their firepit. Evan had no idea I had even left our house.
The next morning, I woke up with very little recollection of my adventures of the night before, except the faint smell of a firepit lingering in my hair. I did have a debilitating hangover though, much like I often did back in those days. But that particular Easter morning, things felt really off, more than the regular headache and nauseating stomach pains. I couldn't remember putting the Easter baskets out.
Thankfully, as I stumbled out of bed when the kids woke us up and rounded the corner, I saw the green grass on the floor, the bright, overflowing baskets set up on the kitchen island. I guess I had remembered to do it all last night, I thought, even while blacked out. So, I played the part of surprised mommy as Brayden, Chase and Parker tore open their Easter baskets. We all "Ooed" and "Aahed" at the toys and candies inside. In less than two minutes, the baskets were done though, and I was desperate for coffee. I sat on the couching staring at my children, and Brayden, who was six or seven at the time, looked around the room. He seemed confused. He stared up at me with a look of disappointment and said, "The Easter bunny forgot to hide chocolates for us this year."
My heart sank. In my drunken, blacked out escapades the night before, I had forgotten to hide the Hershey kisses and cream eggs around the kitchen and family room, like I always did for them. Usually, in addition to the Easter baskets, the bunny also left a trail of chocolates, some on window sills, some on the countertop, little chocolate eggs on chairs and couch cushions. I wanted to cry.
That year, the Easter bunny really screwed up. That was the year the Easter bunny got too drunk off tequila shots with the neighbors. That was the year the Easter bunny selfishly got too blacked out to remember her motherly responsibilities.
The shame and disappointment in myself was like a slap in the face, as my entire family looked around the house for the chocolates that were not there - but still in the packaging upstairs, hiding in my sock drawer. My husband even stared at me with disgust and disappointment.
Later that morning, while Evan flipped pancakes in the kitchen and my three, five and six year old children gathered around the island to compare their Easter treasures, I shamefully snuck off into the dining room down the hallway. I crept over to our bar-top, where we kept the alcohol, and I unscrewed the gold top to my favorite bottle of Tito's vodka. While my family stood one a few feet away, I poured myself a large glass of vodka. I closed my eyes and I accepted the painful burn as punishment. I gulped down the crisp liquid, nearly choking on it. I felt the nauseating fire penetrate my stomach, and I tried to forgot about what an awful mother I believed I was becoming.
I am two and a half years sober now and can reflect back on this experience with hardly any shame or sadness anymore. I don't know who that woman is anymore that snuck off to the bar-top in her dining room. I am grateful for this freedom today.