Written by Jillian Peterson
Ok Mamas, it’s time to suck it up and have that uncomfortable conversation that none of us really want to have about motherhood and alcohol.
As we all know, heavy drinking has been all but normalized in our culture. The “wine o clock” phenomenon has taken flight, but from the perspective of a sober alcoholic like moi, the notion that motherhood and drinking go hand-in-hand is just plain dangerous.
Whether I was born an alcoholic or I drank my way into being one is no longer important to me, it just IS.
But I wasn’t always in recovery. When I was 27 I had my first daughter. At the time I was a single mom, I worked in bars and massage parlours and drank like the people I worked with. It seemed normal. It had been my life since I moved to Vancouver as a 17-year-old and I knew no different. I always had money in my pocket so consequences for my drinking were non-existent; crash a car / get a new one type of deal.
But once I had my beautiful baby girl and I actually tried to stop drinking and couldn’t (no matter how badly I wanted to), I realized I had a serious problem. After many painful years in and out of recovery I finally sobered up for good in 2016.
I now work with other alcoholics and you might be surprised by how many of them are mothers too. I share this because I want any mamas out there struggling to know that they are not alone and that with the right support, you can regain control of yourself and your impulses toward alcohol.
On the other hand, I am also very much aware that many mothers out there are NOT alcoholics and can drink moderately as I once could. My hats off to you! I remember in the beginning how nice it was to be able to pour myself a GLASS (not bottle) of wine at the end of another intense non-stop day of motherhood; but the ease and comfort I got from the glass quickly went from luxury to necessity. Suddenly it wasn’t just “happy hour” it was “happy hours” and I knew I didn’t drink “normally” because I would enjoy wine at a dinner party and then slip into the bathroom and pull out a bottle of vodka from my diaper bag behind everyone’s backs.
I know many women may find that “cringey” (as my tween would say), many may find it sad or depressing or unrelatable, but I also know that there will be those Rebel Mamas who DO relate (whether they’re in recovery or not) and that’s why this post matters – because if you’re struggling you need to know there is a solution, there is help, and recovery is possible.
A lot of my old coping mechanisms involved numbing myself to my reality with alcohol and other substances; I don’t have that option today. I need to live life on life’s terms, but in order to do that with my sanity in tact, I’ve had to find new ways to de-stress / unwind from the demands of motherhood.
When shit’s hitting the fan (and it quite literally has), when I can’t take another tween eye roll, when the threenager is driving me bonkers and the baby is being a baby and I’m ready to smother my man-child of a husband in his sleep, what’s a recovering alcoholic mama to do? I definitely want to check out, but I certainly can’t drink about it… so I practice self care instead.
Maybe that means hitting an AA meeting, prayer / meditation, yoga, a run, weight lifting, journaling, lunching with girlfriends, treating myself to a mani / pedi or sometimes even just locking myself in my room and having a good old-fashioned cry.
The point is that there are many ways to de-stress and unwind and contrary to what the wine & spirits industry would have you believe, it is absolutely possible to endure this mom-gig sans alcohol. It doesn’t have to be “wine’o’clock” and we don’t need “mommy’s juice” – what we need is time, space, and support from our friends and family to be able to take care of ourselves in the most gentle and loving ways possible.
So cheers to the Rebels who can drink in moderation, but for those who find that difficult (or impossible), please feel free to reach out to me. What we can’t do alone we can do together.
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