Mama Needs Wine
You may have noticed something if you’ve shopped for women’s clothing in Target recently, or follow other moms on Instagram. So many shirts, mugs and other items for sale are tying motherhood to wine. I am obviously in their target marketing group because I see it everywhere. Now, don’t get me wrong – I have a ‘Rosé the Day Away’ shirt that I proudly sport at the pool and I love a good pun, but the marketing has become so prevalent that it started to rub at me a bit. I see various articles and posts on the topic, but hadn’t really stopped to digest it. I think it has become a cultural issue that it is generally assumed that to survive parenthood, you must drink.
There is also this really annoying thing that happens as a woman who chooses not to drink at a social occasion. Have you guessed it? You immediately get asked if you’re pregnant. Why is it so unusual for someone to not drink that it MUST be because you medically shouldn’t? For people genuinely trying to get or stay sober (and certainly someone newly pregnant or trying to get pregnant), these kinds of questions can be more than annoying. They can be damaging and could even be enough to cause someone to order a drink simply to avoid the questions.
If you’ve been listening to the Fit Mess, you’ve heard the topic of sobriety brought up. I am someone who does drink, but with alcoholism strongly present on both side of my family, it is something that I have always kept a finger on.
I do undertake periods of sobriety randomly (and less randomly when pregnant, for example) and am currently in a chosen period of sobriety. There is not usually a precipitating event or incident, but I sometimes find it helpful to just take a break. If I find myself automatically grabbing for a beer or glass of wine when I start making dinner, I will take inventory. Have I been drinking consistently for several nights? Am I sticking to one glass of wine, or having two? Am I craving it? Depending on my answers, I may decide to take a breather. Over the last couple months, we hosted several social events at our house, which means we are well stocked with leftover beer and wine. That made it particularly easy to keep grabbing another drink because we have plenty. Accordingly, I easily slid into the habit of grabbing a beer out of the fridge every evening. It was a couple weeks ago that I stopped to think. Maybe this isn’t the best habit right now.
On my wellness journey, drinking regularly is not particularly helpful for many reasons. I am trying hard to get up earlier every day to start my day ahead of my kids and to get more workouts in. If I have one or two glasses of wine the night before, I don’t sleep as well and wake up groggy and with a headache. That will encourage me to hit snooze and mess up my morning. Additionally, alcohol has a lot of empty calories. I’m trying to stay fit and get stronger. Adding a few hundred extra calories every night does not align with my fitness goals. Accordingly, it seemed appropriate to take a little breather.
What’s a little disheartening is that for the first few nights, I actually missed having that drink while making dinner. I wanted to go grab one and would have to remind myself that I was taking a break. That reinforces to me that this was an appropriate time to hit pause. After a few days, I realize it is easy to not drink and I’m not missing it at all.
Do you ever take a sobriety break? If not, have you ever considered trying it? If you decide to take a break, I wanted to share some little things that have helped me make it easy.
When you take a break from or try to break any habit, it can help to replace the ritual with something else. If you normally have a glass of wine after dinner, try buying some fun new teas to try. Instead of a glass of wine, have a tea or two. This can help you stop the signals in your brain telling you that you need the drink and you’re replacing that with something healthier. You could also try swapping out your drink for a non-alcoholic variety. Jeremy and Zach both enjoy the Bravus Brewery non-alcoholic brews and I’m placing an order to try their oatmeal stout! So much of drinking is about the ritual over anything else, so a non-alcoholic swap can be extremely powerful. If you’re meeting friends for happy hour, ask the bartender to make you a virgin cocktail. Soda or tonic water with a splash of cranberry and a lime is my personal favorite, though not terribly exciting.
Reframing is also important, so if you find that telling yourself “no” is unhelpful, try reframing your narrative. Instead of, “I’m not drinking,” try telling yourself “I want to wake up early tomorrow to get my work out in, so I am preparing tonight.” Instead of “I can’t have that glass of wine,” say, “I’m treating myself to this blueberry tea I just bought.” I know it feels rudimentary, but what we say to ourselves is so powerful and can have a greater impact than you may realize.
One thing I also implemented this year as part of my “19 for 2019” list is that I decided to stop ordering drinks at restaurants. I did allow for cheats for special occasions, but for the most part, I will not pay for alcoholic drinks at restaurants. I initially made this goal for financial reasons because I figured that was a quick way to save some money when dining out, but as I reflect I can see that it has also helped me drink less generally. If I didn’t have a drink with dinner, I’m less inclined to have another one when I get home. If I don’t drink with dinner, I may stick closer to my eating goals and am less likely to eat crap later at night when I’m home.
If you decide to take a break and try any of these strategies, I’d love to hear how you felt about it, if any of these tips worked for you, and whether you think taking a break was positive in any way. As you digest this, I hope you hear me in this: you do what is best for you. If drinking is never an issue and you don’t worry, awesome! If you sometimes struggle, or have had a thought questioning if there could be a problem starting, I’m proud of you for identifying it. You can now decide what next step is best for you. Also, I hope it helps you have some perspective if you notice a friend not drinking when you’re out. Instead of grilling her or asking if she’s pregnant, ask how her day was and go from there. Now, will you still see me posting pictures of drinks? For sure. I love a good beer and I don’t expect permanent sobriety for myself in the near future. Know, however, that my drinking is with an awareness of my own situation and with respect for and without judgment of yours.