Mama Doesn’t Drink Anymore

Mama Doesn't Drink Anymore

A few years ago, I was gathering my kids up after summer day camp, wrangling backpacks full to the brim with wet swimsuits and towels. My daughter was attending a local program that took place at a theater in the park. They learned all about acting, singing and dancing in the mornings, and in the afternoons they ran around in the sprinklers that watered the large lawn where people sat on the weekends enjoying outdoor versions of My Fair Lady or Grease. We were walking to the car, when my daughter saw a sign hanging next to a booth that said, “Beer and Wine – $5.” She stopped and tugged on my arm. “Mama, you should come here! They have wine! And it’s only $5!”

My heart broke in to a million pieces as I looked down at her sweet, innocent face. I wanted to burst out crying, but somehow managed to hold back my tears. I knelt down and looked her straight in the eye. “Sweetie, thank you for thinking of me, but you know, mama doesn’t drink wine anymore.”

She looked a little confused, and I couldn’t blame her. Until a few months prior, wine was my constant companion. I always had lots of rules around my drinking, one of which was that I would not drink in front of my kids. Or, at least, that was the plan. But then those rules started to bend.

OK, I won’t drink in front of the kids. Well, maybe if we’re at a BBQ with other families and the other moms are drinking. Or if it’s a Saturday and we’re watching a football game. Or if we’re at a fancy dinner. OK, not until 6 p.m. Nevermind, 5 p.m. OK, 4:30 p.m. on weekends. Well, I mean, I guess I could have a glass while I cook dinner, right? But not before!

You see where this is going… while I always contended that I wasn’t “that bad,” it became more and more apparent that I was losing control of my drinking. However, if you knew me, you probably had no idea. I was the epitome of a super mommy. I was perfection, personified. That’s how I proved to myself it was OK. I couldn’t have a drinking problem if I was working 50 hours a week at a high stress job, raising two kids, cooking healthy dinners and creating Pinterest-worthy birthday parties! As long as I was acting the part of the best mom in the world, I figured my dirty, little secret would stay hidden.

Until one day I woke up and I just simply couldn’t do it anymore. While I hadn’t had any public consequences from my drinking, I felt awful almost all of the time. Physically I was bloated, my skin was sallow, my hair was fried and I had dark circles under my eyes. I hid all of this quite well, but every morning when I looked myself in the mirror, I could see the damage I was doing to myself. I would wake up every night around 3 a.m., head pounding and mouth dry, hating who I was becoming. Mentally I was being eaten away daily by the shame and remorse I felt. I knew the way I was drinking was not normal. I knew I was losing control. And I was terrified if something didn’t change very soon, I would end up losing everything.

I can’t tell you why that day become “the day” for me. I know so many women, mothers just like me who love their kids just as much as I do, who weren’t so fortunate. I have watched as friends and people I love have sunk further and further into their own wine glasses, until they have lost nearly everything. I am one of the lucky ones. My children were very young when I quit, and barely remember. I’m honest with them and tell them I don’t drink anymore. I started talking to them early on, giving them examples they could understand and relate to. We talk about how I have an “allergy” to alcohol, in the same way many of their friends can’t have dairy or peanuts. If I drink alcohol, my body does not react in a healthy way, so I just can’t have it. End of story.

As my kids get older, I plan on talking to them about their risks for alcohol abuse. While addiction is still very misunderstood, doctors and mental health experts agree there are environmental and genetic factors at play. No one really knows why some people develop problems with addiction and others don’t, but if you come from a family where there is a history of mental health and addition issues, your chances for battling something similar in your lifetime are higher than the average population. I want my kids to be aware, and while I know I can’t protect them forever, I want to be an example of what long term recovery can look like.

On my very worst day in recovery, I still feel a million times better than I ever did when I was drinking. I thought that when I put down the wine glass, my life was over. I’d be boring and everyone would think I was crazy. But when I threw away that last bottle, that’s when my life really began. Now I can be the mother I always wanted to be. I may not be perfect, or anywhere close, but I’m doing my best. Some days are still hard, but I know that every time I choose to deal with my life head on instead of numbing out with a bottle of red, the road gets more beautiful. It may not be easy… but it’s always worth it.

(Photo Credit: Rita Clark Photography)

Megan Peters
Megan Peters is a mother, writer, photographer, designer and blogger, based in the Lenexa/Overland Park area (she lives right on the city line, so it depends who you ask!). She is known as mama to 4-year-old Tate and 9-year-old Lucy, and has been married for almost 10 years to her husband, Trent. Megan began blogging in 2004, and her website, www.crazybananas.com, has been online ever since! In 2015, Megan quit her day job and founded Crazy Bananas Creative Studio, an all-inclusive creative company. Part of the studio includes her photography business, which focuses on images of families, children and babies. In 2015, she opened her first photography gallery show, "The Phoenix Project" in conjunction with the Willow Domestic Violence Center in Lawrence, Kansas. She was the South Mass Street Art Guild's Artist of the Month in June 2015. She also is an instructor for Hive Workshops, teaching creatives how blogging can build their business. Megan writes all over the internet about parenting, technology, style pop culture, and being a working mother. Her loves (other than her family, of course!) include Doctor Who, the color orange, pie, and Britney Spears.

36 COMMENTS

  1. Megan, your story is my story. Alcohol, and wine specifically, became such a crutch for me that I didn’t remember my son’s bedtime routine most nights. Now that I’ve quit drinking, I sometimes struggle with feeling boring, irrelevant, and isolated. But I also feel more in control of my life, more content, and much more connected to my husband and son. I thank you for sharing your journey and for helping to banish the stigma of addiction.

    • Your comment totally brought me back to those fuzzy bedtime routines…it was such a sad time. And yes, I also can feel so bored in sobriety, but I think the boredom is a good thing. Before I was always so sure I was missing out on something, but now I’m realizing what boredom really feels like is contentment. And honestly, as I gained more traction in recovery, the boredom went away. Now I try new things and meet new friends and started a business…all things I never would have done when I was drinking! xo

  2. You’re so brave to share your story publicly, Megan. Someday I hope I will be as brave, because stories like yours were what helped me find the courage to admit I had a problem and get sober. Like you, I was supermom on the outside, and dying on the inside. And like you, I find that even the worst sober days are better than sinking into that wine glass.

    • Thank you Brigette….I think if I am able to share (which many people aren’t, due to family, jobs, etc.) I should. For years I didn’t share because I was worried about people at my job finding out, but now I work for myself so I just let the freak flag fly! I don’t think everyone has to be open, but I’m glad I am. It feels right for me. I’m so glad you’re on this path with me! xo

  3. Thank you for telling your story, Megan. I started drinking more after my divorce, trying to cope with some horrific emotions and stresses with two young children. As a single mom for the last 11 years, I too, seemed to be the super mom – going back to grad school, working, volunteering, and trying to be the everything to my kids. Alcohol helped me cope, until it made everything worse. I’ve been trying for long term sobriety for over a year and although doing pretty well, I’m still working very hard to get to the light. I want what you have and I’m going to work my ass off trying to get there.
    Alcohol is addictive, this can happen to anyone using alcohol to cope…and it’s happened to me. I’m sad it’s such a hidden and stigmatized problem and I hope to someday be helping more people like you are.

    • Thanks for commenting, Nikki…and I hear you. I’m not a single mother, and I can’t imagine the amount of stress and overwhelm that must come along with that. And you’re right, alcohol seems like a legit way to cope, until it’s not. Recovery isn’t a straight line, and struggle is part of the journey. Sometimes I think we look at people who have what we want in recovery and think they must have a function we just don’t have, but every person I’ve met in recovery went through struggle and immense hardship to get where they are, myself included. You will get there, sister. Sending love…

  4. Your article is incredibly timely as it seems every mommy blog and individual social media posts talk a lot about drinking going hand-in-hand with mothering. And, of course, you reference “recovery” in the comments frequently.

    However, for mothers that are looking for solid steps to take in determining whether they have a problem and what to do about it…is there any advice based on your experience? I see that you’re recovering but what for us that might be recognizing the problem? I’ve heard controversial things about traditional means like AA. Additionally, this is not something to be taken lightly if, for example, a custody dispute is pending. Just curious what the details are of recovery.

    Again, thank you so much for sharing your story. You have touched so many people who need to hear this.

    • Thanks for your comment, Abigail. You bring up an important point, for sure. I hope to write a follow up post about how I got into recovery and some steps I took. For me, I think as soon as I started questioning if there was a problem, that was a sign there was a problem. Normal drinkers don’t question their drinking. And as I kept questioning, I started keeping my drinking more hidden, which is another huge red flag. I realize now that it wasn’t even the amount I was drinking, it was more about how I was doing it. I was sneaking around, hiding from friends and family, feeling so much shame and guilt. I googled “signs of alcoholism” and took one of those quizzes. I’d find the things I didn’t do and then use that to justify why I didn’t have a problem. My road to recovery was LONG. It was years of stopping and then starting again before it finally stuck.

      In terms of recovery, there are so many paths people can take. I know people who do AA exclusively and it works wonderfully for them. I also know people who do yoga and meditation. I know people who strictly have online support, and those who go to addiction therapists. There are alternative recovery meeting groups, such as SMART Recovery, which focus on changing your thinking instead of the spiritual nature of AA. Some friends listen to recovery podcasts and read blogs. I do a combination of several of these things, and it works for me. I call it my “Recovery Toolbox.” One great place I recommend people start is by listening to a podcast called “The Bubble Hour.” It’s an incredible resource, and I’ve been lucky to be on it a few times as well, which is such a treat because it helped me so much in the beginning. http://www.thebubblehour.com/

      I hope this helps!

  5. You are a courageous woman to share your story. This is a problem for so many, often it goes unnoticed until something terrible happens. I am so glad yo were able to recover and move forward. I pray that your story helps another mom make the decision to change. It can be overcome, maybe it won’t be easy, but its possible.

  6. Thank you for writing this! The shame that is felt with battling alcohol while raising kids is one of the worst feelings in the world. It’s amazing how many woman are going through this and are too ashamed to admit it to anyone. Kudos to you for the bravery to come out and I KNOW it will helps others – myself included ๐Ÿ™‚

Comments are closed.