Do we grow up to be what our mothers are like today or what they were like when we were kids? In the case of Annabel Onyango, her wine loving mother of yesteryear is definitely the role model to aim for.
Growing up, my mother was the party queen. It was the 80’s and she was a hot young mom with perfect hair, nails, and clothes and four hectic kids. My sister Janet and I are both April ba-bies and every year without fail she would devise a combined blow-out bash. The festivities would typically start on a Saturday around 2pm, with parents dropping their little kiddies off at the house for an afternoon of bouncing castles, Orangina and cake. In new birthday frocks we would run around the garden with our friends, eventually passing out when the sugar-high subsided. Then as the sun went down, parents would return, not to collect their respective children but rather settle down to the stash of booze and grilled meat my parents would then unleash on them. That’s when the party would begin in earnest.
Growing up, my mother didn’t mind a glass of wine or three at dinner. We lived in francophone Cote d’Ivoire so it would invariably be French wine. At a restaurant she would always initially decline a drink at the beginning, then sip my dad’s until he would exasperatedly just order her one, and then another, and another. And yet I have never, not once, seen my mother inebriated. She would just never take it to that point.
That was then and this is now, because today my mom won’t touch alcohol. She is aggressively tea-total. Somewhere along the way her oral taste for wine diminished to the point in which it became non-existent. She can’t suffer people indulging around her and will literally judge people who order non-virgin drinks. She is a woman of unflinching principle in this regard.
So it’s with much irony that, twenty years later, I’m the one who will unapologetically order drink after drink after drink. Although not in the charmingly coquette style of my mother back in her day, I am now the first one to order a glass of chilled dry white while my family members all order chai with warm milk. Unfailingly my mother will give me the side-eye (which I ignore) and the day will continue without incident.
Because much like my mother did in her heyday, I never drink to get drunk. I keep it cute. Alcohol is an accessory to the occasion, to the meal, to the night, not the do-and- end-all of it. It comes in charming glasses that are a great deal sexier to handle than a mug of coffee. Despite my mother’s usual tight-lip as I order a third cocktail at 5 o’clock in the afternoon, I know (and she knows) that I am my mother’s daughter.