Confessions from a Teetotaling Mama

I know, non-drinking mama seems like an oxymoron.  There is something about parenting young kids and wine that go together like PB&J.  Think about it -- how many mom’s nights out involve wine? All of them! How many times do you see a post in your moms’ group end in “need wine”?  Every day! Even Target carries a line of wine-wear, including a “Coffee Til Cocktails” t-shirt in a variety of styles. The association between wine and motherhood is reinforced all around me on a daily basis.  

Which is why it is hard for me to admit that . . . I am a mom, and I don’t drink.  Ever. I still enjoy a good girls’ night or mom’s night out.  But while everyone else is imbibing, I carry around a tall glass of water (usually with a lime and straw, so that it can pass for a cocktail).  My friends understand that not drinking is just part of who I am. But when I am meeting a new group of moms, and everyone starts asking what I want to drink, I can’t help but wonder what they are thinking when I decline that glass of wine for the third time.  Are the other moms judging me? Do they think this makes me less fun? Will they speculate that I have a drinking problem? As the lone non-drinker in my social circle, I finally want to share my reasons for not drinking and encourage you not to judge any non-drinkers you encounter at your next mom’s night out (assuming there are others out there – anyone?).

I stopped drinking when I was pregnant with my first.  When I tried to start again after she was born, I found the combination of lack of sleep and hangover headache too much to manage.  I realized that something had to give, and that something was alcohol.  No one thing led me to stop; rather, it was the result of trial-and-error in my quest to figure out how to juggle it all.  (Not that I have it all figured out yet; being a working mom means you are constantly juggling.)

I realized that if I wanted to fit in a workout and see my kids in the morning, I had to wake up early.  Really early. I wake up most days around 5:30 am.  I enjoy a cup of coffee.  I work out in my basement. Because I don’t drink, I get a better night’s sleep.  I don't wake up with a drinking-related headache (which is my usual reaction to a glass of wine). And I don’t have any excuse to sleep through my alarm and skip my morning routine.   Instead, I (usually) wake up ready to conquer the day – my morning workout, my kids 6:30 am wakeup, and work. Being energized and focused for a day of work is one of my necessities as a mom whose day can often go on and on.

I don't judge other mamas who like to indulge in their wine.  I'm sure it works for them.  And, honestly, it looks like a good time.  I do worry that I am missing out on something. But whatever that something is, for me, it came at too high a price to continue drinking.  So, please, don't judge non-drinking mamas just as we shouldn't judge you.  And maybe -- just maybe -- one day we will reach a point where drinking at mom events is no longer assumed, and water will be accepted as just a good of a choice as wine.