The Drinking Mom

Growing up, an 8x10 framed photo of Brian Sipe was displayed proudly in our family's home. I had no idea who he was, but I was painfully aware his uniform meant I would bleed orange and be a Cleveland Browns fan for life.

Fast forward 20 years. On one brisk Sunday, I joined throngs of fans on game day and drank. A lot. I tailgated bright and early, consuming brats and beer. Once in the stadium, my drinking continued, pounding bad $10 beers. I vaguely remember stumbling in the stadium concourse. I remember none of the game.

The next morning, I dragged myself into work with a horrendous headache. I was certain I would throw up during a morning meeting. Three days later, the nausea was still in full force. My stomach was still queasy after nearly a month. "This is the worst hangover ever," I declared.

But I wasn't hungover. I was pregnant. And for the first time, I willingly stopped drinking.

I had an easy pregnancy, and my labor was no different. The nurses administered an epidural, and I was feeling good. Like really, really good. In a matter of hours, I was ready to push, and the most amazing little girl entered my life.

As they prepared my daughter for her world debut, a nurse asked if I was hungry. Apparently pushing a six pound human out of you is exhausting work, but as I mentioned, I was feeling good. I didn't have the munchies. I was in a celebratory mood. I wanted to propose a toast. I asked for a glass of wine.

So began my career as a drinking mom. I was the mom who walked with a thermos of wine while my daughter trick-or-treated. My family spent as little time as possible in the Magic Kingdom because it was the only dry park at Disney World. And did you know Chuck E. Cheese's has beer on tap?

It all seemed harmless. This was my right of passage, I reasoned. The moms around me would enjoy "book club," a polite cover for after-school happy hours. Mommy juice recipes were openly shared, concoctions able to soothe any woman's mid-week tantrum. My neighbors and I had matching blue recycling bins, filled to the brim with bottles. Drinking was my way of fitting in.

As my daughter grew older, I evolved from drinking to be social to drinking to unwind to simply drinking, never needing a reason to do so. I don't know when I crossed that line. I just did.

One evening, I drank a bottle of tequila at a family function. I blacked out. I was told I was belligerent and combative. But rather than feeling embarrassed, I worried about my daughter. I prayed she was shielded from my worst self. I prayed she did not witness my drunken rage.

When I first entered the rooms, my daughter accompanied me to meetings. She kept me accountable. But then I relapsed. She watched my struggle; I saw her disappointment. Today, I am grateful she can walk the 12 steps with me. This time I see pride.

My daughter will always have an alcoholic mom. But unlike before, I am determined to not be distracted by the shiny bottle and intend to focus on my daughter's bright eyes.

To read more about my journey in recovery, click here.


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