I will start off by saying I am not a mother and this is not speaking to the demanding role of motherhood in any capacity. This is coming from the eyes of a child whose parent suffered from Alcohol Use Disorder while growing up.
I’ve mentored in the Live Alcohol Experiment by Annie Grace for over a year now. Often I see parents posting about how their child responds to them going alcohol free. I think the most recent post that caught my attention was about someones child texting them about how proud they were of their moms commitment to going 30 days without alcohol. I see this quite often, kids giving their parents compliments, support and encouragement when they choose to go alcohol free. One of the best responses I’ve seen is when a child proudly announced to his friend that his mom could drive them, because she doesn’t drink, and how cool he thinks she is for it. I may not be a mother but I’ve taken care of many kids and I know how rare it is to be referred to as “cool.” It is one of the highest compliments you will rarely receive. So when you do hear that, you soak it in.
Going alcohol free in a society that normalizes, promotes and glamorizes alcohol is one of the most difficult things to do. You are constantly worried about judgment, you overthink how to tell people that you aren’t drinking for fear of their reaction or that people will think “you have a problem.” (As a side note - if alcohol is a problem for you, and you’re making the choice to live alcohol free - the only response to that is that you’re a badass, and anyone who questions or judges it - well, they aren’t your people.)
Here is the thing, there is one person (or a few) who will NEVER QUESTION YOUR DECISION: your kids. I realize I don’t have kids, but I was that kid. I have also seen it time and time again, that kids encourage and support their parents decision. They think it’s cool that their parent doesn’t drink. They immediately notice the patience, clarity and change in their overall demeanour. Kids are understanding and more perceptive than we give them credit for. Whether or not you are even aware, if you are rushing through bedtime stories or game time because your mind is fixated on that drink/glass of wine, kids can feel that your mind is elsewhere. Often they can most likely feel that you are simply going through the motions but you aren’t entirely present with them. At that point in time, being fixated on that drink is also causing you to be mentally absent from those special little moments. This is why I believe so many people post about how positive their feedback is from their children when they do decide to give up alcohol for 30 days, or completely, because it is one of the best feelings in the world. Everyones background is different and maybe you weren’t drinking around them or perhaps they didn’t notice, that is okay too. You will notice the shift in your clarity, presence and patience, maybe not overnight but over time you will more than likely feel a shift in your mental freedom and that you are able to hold more space for both yourself and your children. While it may be scary going against the societal norm, just remember there are certain members of your family who will support you no matter what.
At the end of the day when your child sees these positive changes, they would be the first person to tell you “who cares what anyone else thinks” and isn’t it funny that they use the same lessons we give to them? Be yourself, do what makes you happy and don’t worry about what other people think. *If you read this and you feel as though you have missed out on moments, please don’t get caught up in the cycle of shame and blame. You did your best with the tools you had, and today is a brand new day for a fresh start. We cannot change the past, but we can seize this moment and change the trajectory of the future. Any moment is a beautiful moment to make a decision that improves your mental and physical health. It is never too late.