No “Quarantini” For Me: Life As a Sober Mom During the COVID-19 Crisis

I see you there, on day (whatever this is) of quarantine/sheltering-in-place/staying home/social distancing/limiting interactions. You haven’t washed your hair in days (weeks?). Your kids are making you insane. Now that virtual learning is over, you have exactly zero activities to keep your kids busy (and out of your, aforementioned, dirty hair). And, it’s HOT outside. Summer camp has been canceled, the community pool is only allowing eight people in at a time, and you can’t even send your kids to their grandparent’s house. 

Maybe you’ve been relying on your nightly glass (or three) of wine every night to help you mellow out–a little indulgent “me time.” You might even be becoming increasingly less comfortable with how you’re feeling and how strongly that bottle begins pulling you each day. I get it…I really do. I used to drink too much, too. 

I’ve seen all of the jokes and memes that have run rampant online during the COVID-19 crisis. Moms wondering when it’s time to switch from coffee to wine each day. Cocktails with new, cute names to reflect our current situation like, “Quarantinis.” 

From every angle, moms are getting permission to drink during this time–and to drink a lot. I mean, there’s nothing else to do, is there?

Maybe you’ve discovered “Ranch Water,” because a glowy Instagram influencer introduced it to you, as she sips her beverage and records a story from her perfectly styled and sponsored back porch, while the glorious sunset lights her expertly highlighted and contoured face. If you’re lucky, she lets you in on the secret of her favorite new loungewear (and that she “sized up to an XXS Petite, for a more slouchy-fit”). Everything she does just looks glamorous…especially her refreshing hipster cocktail. 

My point is that, had I not made the decision to quit drinking about 9 years ago, I’d be right there with you, sister.

I’d also be influenced by the glowy Instagrammers, mixing up refreshing-looking cocktails and I’d be grateful to see other moms enjoying wine every day. The difference though is that there’s a distinction between one drink every so often and several drinks every day. 

If ever there was a time in history to drink a lot, this feels like the right time, does it not? Everything is so uncertain right now. Our health hangs in the balance, our jobs feel insecure. I mean, we don’t even know when or if school will go back to “normal” in the fall. 

People drink during times of trouble. It’s one way that we cope. Adding to the stress of what our future might look like during this pandemic, is the boredom of staying home and being isolated from friends and family. It’s no wonder moms are turning to booze to self medicate. 

I realize that it might come off as “judgey” when I write about how I quit drinking and how it worries me when I see other women drinking heavily, but the fact of the matter is that there are other ways to handle stress during even the most difficult times. Before I quit drinking, all I needed was for another mother to say to me, “you don’t have to do this.” So, I’m here, telling you now, you don’t have to do this

Maybe you’re moderating your alcohol just fine. You’re not over-indulging, but only drinking enough to take the edge off of the occasional long day. If so, this post isn’t for you so, go make a beautiful Ranch Water and enjoy the sunset…or, better yet–put the kids to bed, grab a drink, get on a Zoom call with your friends and laugh a lot! 

However, if you’re having even the smallest whisper of doubt about your drinking in the far-reaches of your brain, take it seriously. Give that voice a little life. Give it your attention. 

Try life without alcohol–even if just for a little while–and see what happens. If it feels bigger than you and more than you can handle alone, seek help. There are so many people out there willing to help and (trust me) there is a whole world on the other side of the bottle. 

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Jenny is a 40-something, married mother of two (Anna, 2007 and Jack, 2009), who migrated to the Hill Country after doing a 14 year stint in Houston. When Jenny isn’t walking her slightly neurotic (and completely beloved) rescued Weimaraner, she enjoys writing, making to-do lists, and folding laundry (and sarcasm). Jenny holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Texas A&M University--Corpus Christi, and completed graduate coursework in Guidance and Counseling. She is a freelance writer who writes a weekly pet column for a Houston newspaper, and is a contributor at Dog Friendly San Antonio, New Braunfels Monthly and San Antonio Woman, as well as assorted other publications. You can also find her on Instagram (introvertsguidetosobriety). Favorite Restaurant: Bohanan's Favorite Landmark: The Alamo (duh) Favorite San Antonio Tradition: Wurstfest (not technically SAT, but closer to Jenny's stomping grounds).