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hangover helpers I went out last night. I even wore heels. Amazing Dolce & Gabbana ones. Circa 2007. Gold paisley. And I wore a dress. An actual dress. Wait, it was actually Dolce too. Even more vintage. Circa 2005? Black crepe. Sleeves were long. Neckline was plunging. But tasteful. Very. Nothing like shopping in your own closet. Nothing like getting gussied up for a night on the town.

First, there was dinner in the theater district with two sisters. We talked and laughed and shared roasted cauliflower. We had a little wine. Yummy.

Next, we met up with Mom to take in a hilarious musical parody called Mom's the Word. We sat around a tiny table. We laughed like hyenas at jokes about stretch marks and sleeplessness and sex (or lack thereof). We had a little wine. Yummy.

Next (yes, there is a next), Husband picked me up and we went to the Maritime Hotel for a swinging charity event for Mount Sinai Hospital. We caught up with old friends and met new ones. We mingled. We had a little wine. Yummy.

A little wine + a little wine + a little wine = Not good.

I didn't even drink that much. I never felt more than a bit buzzed. College Me would mock Present Me and call me a name that College Me used to say, but Present Me is too much of a wuss to say anymore. (Oops. Said it.) And today I am not super hungover, but just a bit yuck. Like the weather here today in lovely Manhattan. There's no thunderstorm. There's no Nor'easter. It's just gray and drizzly and a bit yuck.

This morning, I woke up and reunited with my heels. They were splayed sadly on the kitchen floor. Toddler picked one up and studied it. Worry overtook her blue eyes as she ran her little finger along the stiletto heel. She held the heel up to Husband and said, "Daddy, are these things going to hurt me?"

Husband smiled. And I smiled too. We assured our little girl that my heels, however spiky, would not attack her. That she was safe with us. But I wanted to tell her about something that might hurt her one day.

Wine.

But I decided that though she is delectably precocious, she is too young to know about adult things like wine and excess and hangovers. So, instead, we retreated to the living room with Husband and Baby. I sipped coffee. And halfway through my first cup, I remembered that today is my day without my beloved Nanny (normally Wednesday, but she came in yesterday so I could go out and swill Pinot last night). I'm not going to lie. When I first realized that I was solo today, I began to pout. But then I gave myself a little silent pep-talk and told myself that I would be fine. I am an adult. I am a mother. A little headache's not going to keep me from greatness.

Right. We kissed Husband goodbye. And then we began to play. Really play. I got down on the floor with the girls. We did puzzles. We had story time. Over and over. We read books about Dora's lunchbox and animal tails. We went on adventures in the kitchen. We looked for chinchillas and lizards and gorillas. And, thanks to Toddler's trusty binoculars, we found them all! (Who knew Orange Cat had so many identities?) We passed baby dolls back and forth, rocking them, burping them, putting them in the stroller. We smashed chocolate cookie into the white carpet. We all shared a bowl of lukewarm tomato soup.

Toddler made several successful trips to the potty and I gave her a miniature lollipop which she decided to share with her baby sister. And then she announced that it was time for all of us to do the Lollipop Dance. And so we did. We skipped up and down the hallway, one Rowley girl after the other, twirling. Like lollipops.

And then there was the concert. Toddler gathered the two plastic pianos in the kitchen. One for her. One for her sister. And she pulled the cat beds from the window and flipped them over. She informed me that these were her drums. She told me she needed drumsticks. And I was on it! I found chopsticks in the drawer and handed them over. Toddler sat behind one piano and Baby took her place at the other. Toddler sang every single song she knows with endearing imperfection and great gusto. She went back and forth between piano and drums. Baby danced and babbled some sweet harmony. I sang along when I was allowed. And I clapped. And smiled a lot.

And when the concert was over, Toddler chased Baby with those chopsticks, yelling "Abracadabra!" And I chased Toddler, telling her to be careful, but she told me not to worry, that she was just doing magic.

Magic.

At this one simple word, I realized something. I realized that I felt fine. Perfectly fine. Okay, no. Not perfectly fine. Still a bit drizzly, a bit yuck, but okay. Better than okay. I had one of those moments where I could see my life, actually see it. There it was, right in front of me. A living room full of toys. Two little girls, variations on a compelling theme, matching blue eyes and soup mustaches. My laptop, pried open, precariously close to the edge of the coffee table, running out of juice, blaring Christmas music.

At this snapshot of my order and my chaos and my life, I smiled. And I (temporarily) forgave myself for having a little too much wine on a school night. For being less than perfect. Far less. And, again, I smiled. I smiled because I realized something. I realized that after all of these years of searching for hangover helpers, I finally found mine.

My girls. Sweet smiles. Melodic giggles. Bright imaginations. The perfect medicine.

And I was reluctant to write about all of this. My night out. My improvident intake of wine. My drizzly morning. I was reluctant to write about these things because I feared that you will judge me like I so often, too often, judge myself. I feared you would wag your virtual finger and tell me to grow up, that I am no longer an undergraduate, that I should have learned my lesson by now.

But then. Then I decided that hangovers are like insecurities. Sometimes they are mild (like mine today), but some times they are brutal. We all have them from time to time. (And if you don't drink or you are annoyingly abstemious and never feel it the next day, please go away or imagine a different, more symbolic kind of hangover.) And maybe if we talk about these things more, explore them, why they happen, how they manifest themselves, these things wouldn't have such a purchase on us, they wouldn't make us feel so guilty and drizzly and foolish.

And then I realized I must post this and share with you my new discovery. My amazing hangover helpers. My beautiful and boisterous little girls. And if you don't have the good fortune of creatures who smash banana up your nostrils or don't want them, I am sure you have some other remedies you'd like to share. So don't be selfish! Share them! No one said this blog can't contain useful bits of practical information from time to time. It's not illegal to help each other with these things. I checked.

Okay, off to mix a mean Bloody Mary. Yummy. (I kid! More like: off to stack plastic cups and pry that Scooby Doo Band-Aid out of Baby's mouth and teach Toddler some good Christmas songs.)

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Do you admit when you are hungover? Are you irrationally hard on yourself when you are hungover? Do you feel ashamed and silly and weak like I do? Do you have any good hangover remedies to share with the class? Hope so! And if not, you can type something else in the comment box below. For instance, you can tell me it is okay that I am not a perfect creature, swanning through life with regal and robotic precision. You can tell me it is perfectly okay, utterly human, that I feel a bit yuck today. Or, if you must, you can be mean and tell me that I am a foolish Dolce-clad creature who got just what I deserved (but then I wouldn't like you as much).

Knock Knock

Not Wanting Kids = A Different Language