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Sober Parenting: Going Against the Grain

Eight years ago I gave my kids a gift. I became sober.

In my early 20’s, I drank heavily and often. My husband drank more. We were young; we thought nothing of it. Alcohol was omnipresent. Every social gathering we attended centered around drinking. Weddings, funerals, sporting events, birthday parties, barbecues, days at the beach, vacations, amusement parks, holidays, weekends…it all involved drinking. 

At first it was fun, normal. We had a good time, we were just kids being kids. Until we had them.

I started seeing ugly patterns but they didn’t really come into focus until we had two young children in the picture. All-nighters, hangovers, health issues, mood swings, lapses in memory were all negatively impacting our ability to parent well. I cut back. My husband did not.

It became blaringly obvious that alcohol was a problem. My husband couldn’t quit and didn’t want to. Though I wasn’t drinking nearly as much, the chaos and turmoil from his drinking was escalating. We fought constantly. We became both emotional volcanoes and emotionally bankrupt simultaneously. Our marriage was failing.

Eight years ago, I made the decision to quit drinking permanently.

I made this choice so that my kids would have a sober parent, so that my husband would have a sober partner and avid supporter of his recovery, and to show my kids that despite drinking being the social norm, there are healthy alternatives.

Here’s what I discovered on my journey of sobriety:

  1. Alcohol did nothing for me. It didn’t make me funnier, more popular, prettier, or happier. It made me moody, nauseous, and sad. 
  2. When I quit drinking, I had way more money.
  3. I discovered who my true friends were.
  4. I was a better parent: more present, more patient, more compassionate.
  5. My marriage improved. My husband got into treatment and found a network of support. We focused on fixing our problems and refused to give up on each other.
  6. My health, my skin, and my attitude improved. I became an optimist.
  7. I established new ways to cope with stress. I learned how to meditate, I took up yoga, I delved into my passions, I discovered new interests, and I deepened my relationship with God and with my kids.
  8. I realized how vital it is to take care of myself. Taking a bath, drinking tea, reading a book, Netflix binging, hiking, writing, creating art, and getting plenty of sleep are all crucial for my physical and mental well-being.
  9. I found out that practicing self-care makes me a better mom.
  10. Having an alcohol-free house brings my kids a sense of security. They have seen firsthand the devastation that alcoholism brings. Knowing that they have two sober, healthy parents gives them comfort and confidence.

I am not an alcoholic but being sober is a gift. I made the decision to be a non-drinker as much for myself as my family. It has brought unforeseen joy, contentment, and serenity into my life.

That gives me the power to be the kind of mom I want to be.

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