For the first time since turning 21 (aside from pregnancy), I went 25 days without drinking alcohol. Does that sound shocking to you? Or, does it feel pretty normal? The CDC says that women should have no more than 1 drink per day and binge drinking is stated as 4 or more drinks in one sitting. I don’t know about you but I was blowing through that number. One glass while cooking, one with dinner and then one after the post-bedtime struggle and you’re almost at a bottle! So, I embarked on my first Dry January. Dry January started somewhere in the UK as a way to get people to take a look at their drinking habits and give themselves a chance to reset and re-evaluate. I needed it.
So, I did what any nerd would do and I ordered 5 books on the subject with catchy phrases like “sober curious” and “mindful drinking” and dove in headfirst. I found it easier to distract myself from my nightly ritual of wine if I read about others who walked the same path or those who drank much more than I did. I also kept a journal to remind myself of how I was feeling in the moment and what I was hoping to gain or avoid by doing this challenge.
As a stressed-out, anxiety-riddled, postpartum mom of two, I am fully enveloped in #winemom culture. It seems like drinking because you have kids is such a “thing” right now. There are t-shirts at Target, hashtags on Instagram, and events that are marketed towards families but feature alcohol front and center everywhere. But, is it normal? Or, an even better question…did I want it to be? And, just because I’m not drinking and driving or passing out drunk in front of my kids could my drinking be problematic?
A few google searches later I realized that it’s not just me. Alcohol consumption is increasing in women, especially those in the thick of motherhood so it only makes sense that the marketing for it increases as well. What did that mean for me though? Well, it made me think. Do I want to wade through motherhood with a fuzzy, pounding head? Did I want to anxiously await bedtime and “wine o’clock” each night? Was I going to wear a t-shirt that says, “wine mom” or rock a wine glass that says, “mommy juice?” Honestly, I’d rather not. Motherhood is hard. Sometimes it is unspeakably hard, but it is also beautiful and real. I don’t want to use a drug to cover it up or to “deal” with the challenges. I want to grow and stretch and be the best mom, wife, and human I can be. Mostly, I want to be present and waiting all day for that glass of sweet relief? That is about as present as scrolling through Instagram during your baby’s first steps.
I had my first drink on Super Bowl Sunday—a beer. It didn’t taste that good but I still finished it and reached for another (which I ended up pouring down the drain). I’m not saying I’ll never drink again and I hope that if any of you invite me over and offer me alcohol you won’t feel judged. I just want to think about when, why, and how much I’m consuming before I consume. Alcohol is a drug. A highly addictive one. Do I really want to get into the habit of using it as a band-aid for the daily struggles of motherhood? For me, the answer is a hard no.