I am no stranger to being different.
Often I am the weird one in a group. My classmates even voted me “Most Unique” my senior year in high school.
And now that I’m a mom, not much has changed. I still march to the beat of my own drum.
But there is one aspect of my life that I didn’t expect to make me such an oddball now that I’m a parent — I don’t drink.
You Don’t Drink?
For being such a simple statement, “I don’t drink,” can be a very complex topic.
It’s not a big deal to me, but it tends to throw others for a loop. And it’s a statement that invites a host of responses.
Some people nod and say nothing more. A handful respond with confused or blank stares, unsure of what to do or say next. Occasionally people apologize for offering, while others push,“Come on, just have one!”
But the most common response is the one that’s simple and innocent, yet for many people, can be the most uncomfortable: the follow up questions. From the obvious, “Why not?” to the more judgmental, “What’s your problem?”
I’m a Sober Mom: No Explanation Necessary
True, there are plenty of explanations why a person may choose not to drink. But, then again, does it really warrant an explanation?
We’ve come pretty far as a society that we now know better than to press people about when they’re going to have children — or, worse, prod them as to why they don’t yet have children. The reason behind that situation can be simple, or incredibly personal, private, or downright painful.
Not drinking is in the same ballpark.
A person’s decision not to drink may be simple, such as they don’t like the taste of alcohol or they don’t do it for religious reasons. It could be that drinking leaves them feeling sluggish or they do not want to be hung over.
Or, a person’s reason for not drinking can go much more into the personal, private, or painful realm. Perhaps someone is only a few weeks along in a pregnancy and isn’t ready to reveal that news. Maybe they grew up with a family member who drank too much. Or, it is possible anyone out there could be a former addict, and you’d never know it.
Normalize Not Drinking
It can be tough to be sober in our modern world’s culture, where drinking is normal and not drinking is abnormal.
Being a non-drinking mom adds another layer to that already complex onion.
Do a quick Google search for “Mommy Juice” and you’ll find dozens of options for a tumbler or wine glass.
It’s normal to go to a child’s birthday party and see beers served right alongside the juice boxes.
Cheers to No Beers
And I don’t want to judge anyone’s decision to engage in a harmless adult beverage or two. My choice not to drink is in no way meant to imply that should be your choice, too.
Instead, I’d like to encourage everyone to view a sober parent through that same lens as you would a childless woman. Rather than poking, prodding, or pressuring someone who chooses to be alcohol-free, just don’t.
I’d also like to offer a little love to the moms out there who wish to navigate this overwhelming and scary ‘hood known as parenthood in alcohol-free ways:
It’s okay to chug water instead of wine.
It’s okay to unwind with a run instead of rum.
It’s okay to meditate instead of medicate.
It’s okay to be worn out and hit the bed early, instead of worn out and hit the bottle early.
And it’s absolutely delightful to wake up refreshed instead of hung over.