Being a Sober Mom is the Greatest Gift
Story by Maggie Shores
Many people continue to believe that alcohol addiction is a character flaw or a weakness in a person. They may believe that the alcoholic simply cannot hold their booze and should just stop! But there are many factors as to why a person continues to use despite the negative consequences. This seems to be more prevalent when it affects women and mothers, which in turn makes it extremely difficult to come to terms with and admit the there is a problem. Many women drink in hiding in fear of the stigma from family, friends and the society, and especially being labeled as bad mothers.
The idea of possibly being an alcoholic was extremely difficult to accept for me, especially since my biological mom was an alcoholic and my family disowned her when I was only four years old. Not understanding the disease of alcoholism and confused about what made my mom choose drinking over taking care of me, I held the same uneducated beliefs towards her as my family did. Because mothers are supposed to be the rocks of the family; we are the nurtures and the peacekeepers, the tear wipers, and the scrape healers. We are not supposed to have “drinking problems.”
In the beginning, as I became a mom, I did not worry much about my drinking. I thought that it just helped me cope with the day-to-day responsibilities of parenting and taking care of an infant. I thought I was more relaxed and fun and not so completely worn out all the time. I thought that at the end of the day I needed to relax and have all the stress and worry melt away – just like we often see parents do on TV. Instead I found myself drunk and often in blackouts, and not capable of taking care of my daughter.
And yet, with a huge amount of denial, and not wanting to be like my alcoholic mom, I tried in any way possible to be a responsible drinker; there were rules, and times, and amounts, all to be considered in a sneaky plot against my insidious tyrant – alcohol! However, even with all this maddening planning, I was never able to drink like a
I wish I could say that I was able to get sober for my kids, but I was not. It was a long struggle and I was stuck in a vicious cycle of beating myself up and not understanding my disease – my disease did not have any limits, my disease did not care who I was, or what I did, or who I hurt – my disease just wanted me drunk at all costs, and at the same time I did not want to be “that mother either.”
After a massive battle with my ego, I finally surrendered, and I got sober! I do know that the need for me to be a mom to my little girl was an enormous determining factor, yet it took me hitting my absolute bottom to finally accept my alcoholism and get help. I was fortunate enough, to go to women only rehab where I learned how to be a sober parent and how to live a sober life. I am so very grateful for all that I have gone through in my journey to sobriety; it has made me a stronger woman and a better mom.
Today, one of the most amazing things about being in recovery is that I now get to be a sober parent! I have a daughter who was born when I was still drinking and two boys who I had when I was sober. The difference between being a sober parent and a parent in the midst of alcoholism is immeasurable. Truly, I cannot even put it into a comparison. When I was drinking, the drink was the most important and nothing would stand in my way of it. I was constantly rushing to get things done so I could drink. I was not present for anything. I was not there for my daughter, or her needs, neither for any of my needs. I was unfit as a mother.
I have also found that sobriety alone is my biggest strength in parenting. Parenting is hard. It is non-stop, and it is demanding. However, being sober keeps my mind completely clear to take on the day-to-day challenges. It also allows me to have some amazing moments with my kids, moments that I will remember and cherish forever, moments that if I were still drinking, I would not be able to ever experience.
Health and Wellness Associates
Dr. M Williams PhD Psy