I Quit Drinking When I Had Kids And Man I’m Glad
Since becoming sober, I’ve experienced profoundly positive effects on my mind, body, and behavior.
I spent a great deal of my young adulthood as a heavy drinker. My relationship with alcohol is complex and fraught with memories, both good and bad. I had some great times while drunk, but I’ve also made questionable (read: terrible) choices and narrowly escaped some truly terrifying outcomes due to lack of judgment from being impaired. Then life as I knew it completely changed after I became a parent.
After I had my first baby, I had a major reality check. I was so excited to finally go out for a night on the town and have grandma babysit that I overindulged. Apparently, my newborn had not gotten the memo that I wanted to sleep off my hangover all day because he was up wailing at the crack of dawn. That’s when it hit me: My new life as a mom wasn't conducive to this tomfoolery, so I decided that drinking just wasn't worth it for me anymore. As time went by and I had two more babies in rapid succession, it became clearer and clearer that I am the healthiest and happiest version of myself when I’m sober.
I stopped drinking for a variety of reasons. Chief among them was that booze (even in small quantities) had always given me a bad stomachache and really messed with my sleep. In my younger years, I would ignore it, which would lead to a general feeling of crumminess that might last for days. Now that I have three little kids, I don’t have time to nurse a horrendous hangover, so it’s just not an option for me. Even when I didn’t overdo it, I slept badly and woke up groggy and exhausted.
Also, I was a sloppy drunk. Many people can drink and still act dignified; I was not one of them. Alcohol seemed to exacerbate my negative qualities. I would become loud and obnoxious and would often say and do things I regretted the next day.
I didn’t realize how pervasive booze culture really is until I stopped participating in it. Our society encourages — and even extols (hello, mommy wine culture!) — people (especially parents) turning to alcohol as a coping mechanism for the challenges of day-to-day life and celebrating it as a way to live your best and most fun life. Most adults I know feel drinking adds a layer of enjoyment to a social gathering, which makes me the odd one out by not participating.
I harbor no judgment for anyone who chooses to drink. I know it’s not the right choice for me personally. My reasoning for staying sober is not simple; it’s multifaceted and nuanced, and to be completely honest, even I don’t fully understand it. But what I do understand is that it’s best for both me and my children when I am not drunk or hungover. That I know.
I used to think alcohol served me somehow — it turned me into a more gregarious and laid-back version of myself. While that might have been true on some level, it also activated the beast in me and, indeed, the beast in my GI tract.
“You’re no fun anymore,” a friend recently bemoaned to me. Am I less fun now that I don’t drink and get rowdy? Probably. But I don’t know that I can directly blame that on alcohol. I think that might be a separate issue entirely. With three young kids, I’m no longer wild and unfettered and I’m okay with that. My idea of a rocking great time is reading a good book, sipping green tea, and going to bed at 9pm. This is who I am now. I might be boring, but I like it.
Since becoming sober, I’ve experienced profoundly positive effects on my mind, body, and behavior. I am enjoying the physical and mental clarity that has accompanied my choice to abstain from alcohol.
Lately my happy place looks more like chatting it up with friends, leaving the party at its peak with no regrets about some cringey thing I said. Happiness now is getting a proper night of rest so I’m ready to tackle the next day when my kids inevitably wake up 6:00 am bright-eyed and bushy tailed.
Christina Crawford is a Dallas-based writer, guacamole enthusiast, and mom to three feral little boys. She spends her days putting out fires (actual and metaphorical) and trying to keep goldfish alive. Her words have appeared in Newsweek, HuffPost, Health Magazine, Parents, Scary Mommy, Today Show Parents, and more. You can follow along on Twitter where she writes (questionably) funny anecdotes about her life at @Xtina_Crawford