Living Wholly and Out Loud: Motherhood and Sobriety
I’m a better mother now because I’m not modeling steady, heavy wine consumption as an unquestionably acceptable life choice; instead I am openly addressing the truth – that alcohol is an addictive drug and should be treated with caution.
Check out more fresh voices in The Fix's new blog section.
Do you know how difficult it is to build a double decker couch out of Lego?
It took me and my sons three hours to build one last Sunday morning. Three long hours of rummaging around our messy Lego containers looking for the right pieces. We found a video on YouTube and kept pausing and rewinding to follow the person making it;
“We need five more two-by-twos with hooks on the end!” my nine-year old would call.
“Can you find any more four-by-fours that are smooth on the top?” I’d say to my seven-year-old.
“Is this what we need?” Mr Four would constantly ask.
We even sang the Lego movie song while we were doing it (cheesy but true), and the jubilation when we finished was huge. Next task – a big screen TV.
They loved it.
Someone asked me the other day if I’m a better mother now that I’m sober. Undoubtedly yes. I doubt I would have had the patience to build a double decker couch out of Lego with a raging hangover. But having extra patience isn’t the only thing that makes me a better mum now than I was before September 6, 2011.
I’m a better mother now because I’m not wasting so much of my mental energy worrying and obsessing about alcohol. So many minutes of my day used to be spent beating myself up for drinking more than I’d intended the night before and desperately trying to convince myself I didn’t have a problem. (Not to mention the minutes I was actually drinking and being under the influence.) Now I live without booze I’ve freed up so much mental energy and of course my sons benefit from that. I’m far more likely now to properly listen to their chatter and engage in their interests. I definitely feel more connected to them.
I’m a better mother now because I live so much more wholly and out loud. Nowadays when I get emotional I don’t try to hide what’s going on or squash my feelings down. If I’m crying or grouchy I talk to my sons about what I’m feeling and why. They’re learning that feelings are a natural, normal response to life events and not something to be feared or ignored. My 9-year-old told me he was sad the other day and actually said "I’m just emotional today that’s all." I was so proud of him. This is the way humans are meant to live.
I’m a better mother now because I’m not modeling steady, heavy wine consumption as an unquestionably acceptable life choice; instead I am openly addressing the truth – that alcohol is an addictive drug and should be treated with caution. My sons know they have a mum that doesn’t drink alcohol because she can’t control it and a dad who drinks moderately because he can. They are growing up understanding there is an element of danger attached to alcohol – as well they should, because there is. What our sons choose to do as adults will be up to them but at least we can feel comfortable with the fact that we sent them out into the world with all the facts.
Am I a perfect mother? Of course not!!!! Far from it. But I’m a sober one, not a boozy one, and that makes me a better one.
I just love being sober. Even when I’m exhausted or stressed or teary or mad I’m unbelievably delighted to be living my life in a real, raw state. No longer am I glug, glug, glugging my way through the days, squashing my true self and eroding my sense of well-being. I’ll always be hugely grateful for having beat my addiction and this is something I can say with absolute certainty – I will never, ever go back to being that wine-guzzling numb person that I once was. How cool is that! Cue the Lego song...”Everything is Awesome.....!!!!”
Mrs. D is a sober mum and wife who lives in New Zealand. She blogs at www.livingwithoutalcohol.blogspot.com and her memoir "Mrs D Is Going Without" is being published by Allen & Unwin in July.