The reasons I don’t drink alcohol are more complicated than a quick five-item list, but perhaps not drinking is something you’ve considered for your own life. Or maybe, with the start of a fresh, new year, you’re looking to make some healthy changes. Either way, I’d like to share my story about how I became that “unicorn” in the mom world: the mom who doesn’t drink.
When my oldest child was a toddler and my youngest was an infant, I was drinking pretty heavily. I found (who I thought were) “my people,” in a happy hour playgroup of other moms who liked to get together on a Friday afternoon and let the kids play, while we drank wine and complained about life. Then, I’d go home and continue drinking through dinner until I passed out at night.
I didn’t drink every day, but I drank many of the days of the week. I didn’t drink in the mornings, but you can be sure that I opened up the wine between 4:00 and 5:00 P.M., that “witching hour” between nap time and dinner time and before Daddy gets home, when it feels like your house, as well as your mental integrity is imploding.
I kept my promises and was a responsible parent. My drinking didn’t cause any acute problems or trouble, but I knew that drinking was beginning to call the shots in my life. It happened slowly at first, but its hold on me felt bigger and stronger as the days went by.
I knew for a long time that I would need to rein in my drinking at some point, but the season of life when I had two kids in diapers just didn’t feel like the time to embark on that particular journey.
I’m also the first to admit that I fell victim to the “Mommy Needs Wine” culture that is so prevalent in our society. From hoodies with cute fonts, exclaiming how “They Whine, I Wine,” and barware that says, “Mommy’s Sippy Cup,” mommies and drinking go together like peas and carrots in our culture, and I felt like I deserved that drink.
I fell for it, hook, line, and sinker. I was under the misguided notion that I needed alcohol in my life, when, in reality, alcohol was only holding me back.
Once I realized that I needed to stop drinking, I started with small steps in an attempt to moderate my drinking. But almost immediately, I began bargaining with myself about it. I’ll only drink on weekends. Well, the definition of a “weekend,” quickly got fuzzy and skewed. If it’s a long weekend, do Monday and Friday count?
Long story short, alcohol just started to take over. It zapped all of my mental energy, and physically, I felt horrible. I carried around weight that no amount of South Beach, Atkins or Weight Watchers could shed. Alcohol removed me from my kids and husband. It took over my thinking, and I was exhausted from mentally battling with it.
So, I said, “Enough!” and I quit drinking cold turkey.
I don’t remember the exact day, but it was about nine years ago now. I didn’t seek help or talk too much about it, aside from telling my husband and closest friends that I was going to stop (which also kept me accountable). I didn’t hit “rock bottom,” so much as I just wanted to put the brakes on before I got there.
And I immediately saw changes in every single aspect of life.
It felt so good not waking up fuzzy and dehydrated. I suddenly became a morning person. I relished spending time with my kids. I took up exercise. I started to form better relationships with people, especially once I realized that there were people in my life whom I had to drink to tolerate. Once I quit drinking, I cut ties to people who made me want to drink.
And, the wonder of wonders, I started to love myself! I was a little gobsmacked that I set out to do something difficult and, by George, I did it!
Opportunities started to fall into my lap, like my very first writing gig (that I still have) at a local newspaper in Houston. I started meeting people who inspired me. I gained confidence that I’d never had before. It was abundantly clear to me that the Universe was rooting for me, saying, “Yes, girl!”
I’m not here to convince everyone to give up alcohol, because there are plenty of people who can drink without consequences.
But I will tell you that if you have even the smallest, nagging voice in the back of your head about it, it doesn’t hurt to give up alcohol for a little while and see what happens.
Maybe you’re fine with moderating, but I knew that I needed to go all in to keep my inner negotiations at bay. Quitting completely took the guesswork out of my “rules” about drinking.
Saying “no” was easier for me to do. And by saying “no” to alcohol, I’ve had the chance to say “yes” to so much more than I ever thought possible.
Have you ever considered giving up alcohol? Do you think you could survive “mom life” without it?
If you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol addiction, here are resources to help: