It’s Not About The Wine – How To Cope With The Mental Load of Motherhood
“Alcohol isn’t going to fix the systemic lack of support for mothers–and pretending it’s the solution to surviving motherhood does more harm than good.”
– It’s Not About the Wine: The Loaded Truth Behind Mommy Wine Culture
What’s the image that comes to mind when you hear the phrase “wine mom”?
In popular culture, she’s portrayed as a woman with small children, barely getting through the day and reaching for a glass of wine at night to ease the stress of parenthood. Or maybe she’s a soccer mom with a tumbler of wine on the sidelines or escaping the kids for the night at a book club meeting with girlfriends and lots and lots of wine.
The idea that being a modern mom means you are “surviving motherhood one glass of wine at a time” is everywhere.
You’ll find t-shirts that say “This Mom Runs On Coffee, Wine And Amazon Prime” and coffee cups advertising “Shhh…There’s Wine In Here”. It’s almost impossible to find a funny birthday card that doesn’t reference wine or drinking in some way.
As a mother, I know firsthand the immense pressures that come with the territory of parenting. From managing the household to juggling kids’ schedules and addressing their emotional needs, the mental load of motherhood can often feel overwhelming.
And when my kids were young I relied heavily on wine to make everyday life more exciting and to feel like an adult while playing my 17th round of Candyland or building lego towers after work.
The truth is that moms need support for the physical and emotional labor of parenting, not an unhealthy coping mechanism of downing an addictive substance.
I asked Celeste Yvonne, author of “It’s Not About the Wine: The Loaded Truth Behind Mommy Wine Culture,” to talk with me about how to reduce the mental load of motherhood, which Celeste writes about as “a burden born from outdated family norms, traditional roles, and a systemic lack of support for moms”.
Despite alcohol being positioned as the quick fix for the struggles of motherhood, it’s doing a lot of harm and very little good in the long run.
During the pandemic a study found that women with children under age 5 in their homes increased alcohol consumption by a staggering 323 percent.
The growth in heavy drinking among women and mothers should come as no surprise.
After all they’ve been told for decades that alcohol is part of a luxury lifestyle, having a good time and is a way to reduce stress.
Katherine Keyes, a professor of epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, noted that “If you look at who is binge drinking the most, it’s women at midlife. The greatest escalations in drinking are from women with the highest socioeconomic status — those with the highest incomes, the most education and the highest-status occupations.”
It’s time to shift the narrative away from “wine fixes everything” to a more inclusive, supportive perspective.
By doing so, we can all work towards creating a world where mothers are empowered and the mental load of motherhood is lightened for the benefit of families everywhere.
In this episode, Celeste and I discuss:
- How wine can easily turn from a fun distraction to an easy fix to an addictive habit
- The visible and invisible work mothers take on and the mental load we carry
- Why women in midlife with the highest socioeconomic status are binge drinking the most
- How to evaluate the role of alcohol in your life and find community support for an alcohol-free life
- Why we’ve been taught to use alcohol as a tool to manage stress and burnout
- How to talk to your spouse about the division of labor to relieve your mental load
- How Mommy Wine Culture has been used to normalize binge drinking among mothers
- When to seek professional support
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Connect with Celeste Yvonne
Sober mom advocate Celeste Yvonne is a writer and certified recovery coach (IAPRC) with over 20 years of experience as a communications professional in corporate America. Her essays on parenting, the mental load of motherhood, mommy wine culture, and sobriety resonates with mothers everywhere and has been featured in the Washington Post, Good Morning America, Today Show, and Refinery 29, among others. She is also a contributing writer to the Wall Street Journal and Publishers Weekly bestseller So God Made a Mother.
Over five years sober and a founding host of the Sober Mom Squad, Celeste advocates for mothers who struggle with addiction and mental health. She is a recipient of the Windfelt Inspire Award by the Dry Society Social Club, as well as 2x winner of Red Tricycle’s Spoke Challenge for best writing. She lives in Reno, Nevada, with her husband and two children.
Learn more about Celeste and how she can support you at www.andwhatamom.com
Follow Celeste on Instagram @theultimatemomchallenge
Connect with Casey
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READ THE TRANSCRIPT OF THIS PODCAST INTERVIEW
It’s Not About The Wine – How To Cope With The Mental Load of Motherhood with Celeste Yvonne
drinking, alcohol, feel, wine, husband, quit, thinking, life, mom, talk, years, day, book, people, fucked, point, Russian Roulette, nonalcoholic, sober curious, mocktails, sober communities, connection, purpose, sober movement, It’s Not About The Wine, Cope, Mental load, motherhood, recovery, mommy wine culture, sobriety, sober, mothers
SPEAKERS: Casey McGuire Davidson + Celeste Yvonne
Welcome to the Hello Someday Podcast, the podcast for busy women who are ready to drink less and live more. I’m Casey McGuire Davidson, ex-red wine girl turned life coach helping women create lives they love without alcohol. But it wasn’t that long ago that I was anxious, overwhelmed, and drinking a bottle of wine and night to unwind. I thought that wine was the glue, holding my life together, helping me cope with my kids, my stressful job and my busy life. I didn’t realize that my love affair with drinking was making me more anxious and less able to manage my responsibilities.
In this podcast, my goal is to teach you the tried and true secrets of creating and living a life you don’t want to escape from.
Each week, I’ll bring you tools, lessons and conversations to help you drink less and live more. I’ll teach you how to navigate our drinking obsessed culture without a buzz, how to sit with your emotions when you’re lonely or angry, frustrated or overwhelmed, how to self soothe without a drink, and how to turn the decision to stop drinking from your worst case scenario to the best decision of your life.
I am so glad you’re here. Now let’s get started.
Hi there. Today we are talking about the book,
It’s not about the wine. The loaded truth behind mommy wine culture
with the author Celeste Yvonne.
She’s a writer and a certified Recovery Coach with over 20 years of experience as a Communications professional in Corporate America.
Her essays on Parenting, The Mental Load of Motherhood, Mommy Wine Culture and Sobriety resonates with mothers everywhere and have been featured in The Washington Post, Good Morning America, The Today Show, and Refinery29 – among others.
She was also a contributor to The Wall Street Journal and Publishers Weekly best-seller, So God Made A Mother. Over 5 years sober and a founding host of this Sober Mom Squad. Celeste advocates for mothers who struggle with addiction and mental health. She’s a recipient of the Wind Felt Inspire Award by the tri society Social Club, as well as the two time winner of read tricycles spoke challenge for Best Writing. She lives in Reno, Nevada, with her husband and two children. And Celeste, welcome.
Hi, Casey. Thanks for having me.
Oh, I’m excited to have you here. Because when we first talked about your book, we also talked about the mental load of motherhood. And that really resonated with me and with so many of my clients and listeners.
I know. Yeah, I mean, I feel like it’s getting more traction and more people understand what that is, the next step in understanding. It is understanding what to do about it. So that is something I hope people, I can help people with. But through the book, and through us just talking about it and be more vocal, maybe we can help mothers understand that they’re not stuck with this weight, like a heavy backpack on them for the rest of their lives. Yeah,
I know, because that’s what it can feel like, you know, the end, it’s something that I think a lot of women don’t quite understand before they have kids and feel like they should be able to cope with and sort of not take it so hard. When they’re in the thick of it in the thick of motherhood, they feel like something’s wrong with them.
I think we live in a really hard time to be a mom, I think every time it’s probably been hard, but it’s a uniquely challenging time because we have this desire that to be a good mother means to not ask for help to do everything well, to hustle to just focus on your blessings, and, and then to also be a career mom. And it’s just I feel like we’re being hit from pretty much every single angle. And the independence play it does is kicking all of our butts, because motherhood and parenthood was never intended, I believe, to be done, singularly. And I mean, the whole concept of the village has been there for such a long time for a reason. And yet, we feel this stigma when we do feel like we’re falling when we do feel like we need to ask for help. Or we need other people to do their parts. That’s, that’s where I think we need to communicate better that there’s nothing wrong with saying, I’m not going to carry this whole mental load, because I’m not designed to carry at all. That’s where we can change the narrative, I hope. Yeah,
I think that’s exactly what we should be talking about and looking at how to do it. But to get started, tell my listeners about you. I know you stopped drinking over 5 years ago but tell us where you started and where you came from. And when you stop, yeah, I grew up in the bay area to a father who was an alcoholic, and a mother who carried the mental load for the whole family. And who also had to carry the codependent cape that many, many husbands, or wives have to carry when there’s addiction among family. And I grew up thoroughly believing that watching my own father’s addiction would prepare me to be able to moderate and learn from his mistakes, and not bring them into my own life. But in the meantime, I wound up growing up with an eating disorder that kind of consumed me in the sense that it helped distract me from what was happening with my dad, and the addiction struggles in our family that we had to deal with every single day. So, it was a survival mechanism for a really long time. Eventually, that eating disorder did transition to alcohol use. And I always was able to feel like I had control over my alcohol use because I hung out with other people who drink a lot. And I felt like everything I was doing was normal. But when I became a parent, I realized the way I drank wasn’t sustainable. And I realized that I could not be the mother I wanted to be, and also drink the way I wanted to drink, I would have to make a choice. And I chose to quit drinking, without knowing what I was doing or how to do that. What that would look like, and I really took it day by day, trying to figure this out. I did not go in with a plan. All I knew was I wasn’t going to gym today. And I’ll figure it out as I go. And over time, I did. I, over time, did develop the tools and resources I needed to remain sober. But it was really hard in the beginning. And I did it in a way that I probably wouldn’t recommend anybody else do it. Why? Because I was alone.
I was alone. And I was in this void of shame and embarrassment. And like I didn’t, I couldn’t tell anybody, because I was so ashamed that I had gotten to this point. But I also didn’t want to go into a 12 step meeting, because my father went that direction. And he failed over and over again.
So, I figured I’ll just do it on my own terms. And this is before, you know, I knew anything about what community to look like, what options are available, what emotional sobriety was, but again, like I figured it out over time. And I think that’s how I’ve been able to maintain my sobriety. I always go in curious and wanting to learn more and wanting to understand more and realizing this journey doesn’t end you’re always exploring, and you’re always asking the questions and seeking out answers. And I think that’s how I have found the sobriety lifestyle that I enjoy now. Yeah. And it’s kind of amazing that you did it totally alone.
I also would not recommend that. We were talking just before we turned on the recording to the pod that when we both stopped drinking, I stopped about seven and a half years ago. There was not a whole lot out there other than 12 Step programs, but I feel like I was lucky in a way that I previously found this sort of secret Facebook group. And through that I found a sober coach I worked with fell from tired of thinking about drinking. And I found Hip Sobriety School which was Holly Whitaker’s. She wrote, Quit Like A Woman – that was her first sort of group Coaching Online Program. So, I did have people to talk to I had sort of that 1-on-1 support. And I had the group where we could communicate and talk and sort of didn’t feel alone in what we were doing.
I think that’s amazing. I have to tell You, when I first quit, you know, one of the few people I told that doing this was my mom and my mom introduced me to someone who was in a 12 step program. And we met for coffee. And the woman told me, here’s what you got to do, you got to go to 90 meetings in 90 days. And the minute she said that I shut down mentally, because I had a one year old and a three year old. And all I could think is the amount of work it will take for me to find somebody to watch the children to invest in getting there and back the time I have to commit to this amongst all the other things. I was breastfeeding at the time, I’m like, how, how would this even work? In that, in my head, the moment she said that, I think, I just added conviction to this thought, where there’s no way in hell, I’m going to have to do this on my own. And it wasn’t until the pandemic, when meetings went virtual, that I even found, like my community. And you know, I had met people who was sober, and I made friends. And I’ve been in therapy leading up to that. But that, for me was such a turning point moment. And I truly believe that the transition to virtual meetings that happened to the pandemic was a game changer for mothers in recovery.
Yeah, I totally agree. I, you know, similar to you, I guess, 10 years ago, the first time I stopped drinking, I stopped for a year and then got pregnant and then went back to drinking for two years. So, I quit when my daughter was two years old, and my son was eight. I did try a meetings. And, you know, at the time, I had a five year old son and was working full time. And it was hard. I mean, my husband’s like, you know, I don’t know, up here, sometimes their 90 minute meetings, not even 60. And it was just, it didn’t fit with both my sort of belief system, it wasn’t my jam, but also my schedule, like just practically. And I know they have a meetings online as well. But one of the things that really worked for me, was being able to consume Coaching. In my own time, when I was rocking my daughter to sleep when I was driving to the gym in the morning, you know, the online groups where I could just check in whether it was with Hip Sobriety school back in the day, or Facebook groups. And so, I think that’s what moms need, they don’t need one more that, you know, appointment on their calendar that’s completely and totally overloaded. They need to access help and support in those tiny pockets of time they have. That’s and that is the difference, right? When we are looking at recovery, and doing all that work, and the meetings and the community and the support. The goal isn’t to add to the mental load, the goal is to help you create a place where the mental loads feels lighter.
Yeah. And that’s the goal of recovery. That’s the point of recovery. Recovery should maybe in the beginning feels like another rock in your backpack that you’re carrying. But that’s not why we’re doing it. That’s not why we’re going to these meetings. And when the most, the more we can do to make recovery accessible to mothers who feel so overwhelmed and to feel like they are carrying this heavy backpack the better and the more achievable. It can be for mothers everywhere. Yeah.
One of the things you said earlier was you said that, you know, drinking at some point you mentioned you had a one-year-old and a three-year-old, wasn’t sustainable with the way that you wanted to be a parent. And I know that I had, I knew that early in my parenting I worried about my drinking when my son was six months old and a year old. First time I tried to stop he was five years old, and I ended up you know, stopping for the last time when he was eight, the way I mean it took me many tries and I sort of fought tooth and nail desperately trying to moderate and keep alcohol in my life. Despite knowing that it was unsustainable, but sort of holding out for that third door of this time, I’m going to get it together. It sounds kind of simple when you say I just decided it wasn’t sustainable. And so, I stopped, and I did. Was it that easy?
Well, you know, it was, it was years in the making, right? Nothing’s ever as simple as I just decided one day. You know, it reminds me of the Liz Gilbert quote when she says you get sick and tired of your own shit. Oh, yeah. That I agree with that. That is absolutely how I quit drinking. But what you don’t, what’s not mentioned in that quote is all the compiling shit. That just keeps building up building up building up. And I have so many convincing moments that really got me there. I think about the first time I was hung over with my new baby, you know, I, he had been born a month prior. And we went out for my birthday. And my sister in law offered to babysit. So, my husband, I could go out and I drink too much. And it was so much fun. You know, me, I am back, you know, life, life is back to normal. And then I wake up in the morning, and I’m like, Oh, shit, you know, I can’t go into work today only work for me then was parenting. But what you can’t call in said, I was thinking I even reached out to a couple people. Are you around to help me out family like, you know, I’m so overwhelmed. Were you around to help me out? Didn’t mention that I’m, I’m overwhelmed because I have this debilitating hangover. And nobody was around. Nobody could help. And I was thinking about, and I had this raging anxiety. And I was thinking, this little baby is counting on me to survive today. And I want to call in sick. Like, it was such a sobering moment in the worst way. You know, it gave me so much anxiety is still does even thinking about it. Because the realization that no one’s swooping in to help here that the change between before baby where you could just call in sick to work and after a baby. This is not just another job. Yeah. And it was moments like that, where I realized this isn’t long term. This isn’t going to work in my drinking stories favor. Yeah. Yeah.
That definitely resonates with me. I mean, I had, I always think of it as like the death of 1000 cuts. There wasn’t one big moment where I was just confronted with something bottom or anything like that. It was just kind of years of this growing awareness and worry and trying and failing. And then trying to rationalize. I remember, you know, when my son was 18 months older, so we went for a memorial day, you know, mom’s playdate celebration over at girlfriend’s house. And we all had little kids and ended up, you know, these are some of my best friends drinking so much that I slept over with my son. And, you know, thank God, her husband was there because I was, I don’t remember half the night and neither do my girlfriend’s. And the next morning, driving my son home, I was so hungover, that I had to pull over in like a grocery store parking lot and throw up while he was in the bucket seat in my back seat, and just feeling clearly so ill, and yet go home and try to pretend that I was perfectly fine for my husband, because, Dear God, you know, right. You can’t. The truth can’t be revealed. I, I did that a lot? I had my hangovers. Because if anybody realized just how incapable I truly was a parent, in any given moment, I was sure, they would take my children away from me, like when you become a mother, everything’s at stake now, because you’ve got your heart beating outside of your chest. And yet, I still have this idea that I could do everything the same as I’ve always done it. And I was wrong. And I tried. And I tried and eventually, you know, I, I realized I couldn’t keep trying this way. And I do give credit to my father’s alcoholism, for helping me come to that realization. Maybe that is how I had that wake up moment. And it didn’t take longer than maybe it would have otherwise because I saw where this road goes. And I did not want to take that road not when I finally I think when it finally came to me that I wasn’t doing this all that different from my father. That was maybe more of a wake up moment than I ever would have thought. Yeah.
Casey McGuire Davidson
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You know, I think that most people you know, if you’re listening to This podcast or if you’re, you’re on this path at all. I mean, we know it doesn’t get better probably because your drinking wasn’t the same a decade ago than it would be at this moment. Or at least not as often. I remember when my son was eight, one, you know, I basically decided to stop in that moment, I didn’t know it was going to be forever. But because I was just like, I literally cannot cope with my life. And I know it’s the alcohol, you know, like, there was no question in my mind at that point that the hangovers the anxiety, the emotional instability, all that stuff. But I sort of what, what made me really be like I have to do this was, I thought about a decade in the future when my son was going to be 18. And would he even want to bring his friends home, you know, at nine o’clock at night, if mom was drunk or passed out on the couch, you know, and that just like, broke my heart. And I thought about what kind of relationship I wanted to have with him. between that time. You know, that doesn’t get you through every day, you know, it you need, you know, a million small pieces of support and joy and comfort and help. But that was my long term, motivation. And my husband even said to me, at some point, because he had no idea, sort of everything going on inside me. He was like, Well, they do think you have drinks sometime, or like, just kind of like, Hey, you sure about this, you’re not going to drink when we go to Italy. And I was just like, Honey, our family wanted no part of where I was headed, you know, and that was kind of all I needed to say. But that was me thinking about when my son was going to be 18 what it would look like and reminds me of that scene from a movie wonder.
I don’t know if you saw that. But there’s a scene with a teenage daughter and a mother watching a movie. And the mother gets so drunk that she passes out on the couch, and the daughter’s just sitting there. And I remember watching that movie, I can’t even remember if I was sober at that point, or if I was still just mulling it. But I remember being like, if I don’t quit, that will be me. Yeah, I mean, that is me now. Except it’s not a 16 year old daughter next to me. It’s a one year old. Yeah, I that is a visual representation of where I will be when my kids are teenagers. If I don’t change something at all.
Yeah. And sometimes we need that. I know, one of the things that you talk about, and I wanted to ask you about is how do you sort of confront the role of alcohol in your life if you don’t have a father like yours? Or if in your, you’re in that place of like, hey, all my friends drink the same? And it’s not, quote unquote, that bad that I have to stop. And yet, clearly, I’m
worried about this. Yeah, I mean, I would say I was a gray area drinker for a really long time, because I, some days, I was able to just stop after one or two drinks, and I felt totally in control. But other times, it would just like this fuse in me, and I just, there wasn’t enough alcohol in the world. And I would absolutely blackout I would wake up the next morning, not sure what happened. It was such it was Russian Roulette every time I drive. And what I noticed is as I got older, the blackouts became more common. I was I was seeing the Russian Roulette, play more and more in alcohols favor. And that was I mean, is there anything more terrifying than waking up in the morning and not knowing what happened the night before? I mean, I’m not really sure we can put ourselves in worse predicaments. Yeah. And I mean, I will go into my kids rooms and check that they were breathing just for some security that I didn’t totally fucked everything up. And that if that doesn’t speak volumes about just how dangerous you know, this, this gets and how much is on the line, then I don’t know what does.
I think when I was in it, and not questioning it and certainly not ever intending to quit. It’s really easy to justify this. It’s easy to justify by hanging around other people who think like you do. Mommy wine culture. I mean, if you just go on any social media feed, every single meme will pat you on the back that Alcohol, not only is the solution but everybody else is doing it. So why wouldn’t you? We live in a culture where it’s strange if you don’t drink. So, I think when it comes to exploring and getting curious about whether this is the right choice for you, it does have to come internally. I don’t know, in my own life, when, externally, somebody would have stopped me and said, You’ve had enough. Or it’s time to rethink this, I don’t know, it probably would have been sooner rather than later. But instead, you know, when I did decide to quit, I kind of said to myself, I can make this choice for myself now. Or I can probably get a couple more years out of alcohol, and then somebody will make the choice for me. And I could potentially lose everything in the process. So, what will it be? You know, I think, when it comes to so much in life that we don’t have control over me getting to take my power back and make this choice for myself. Felt like really the only control that I have about?
Yeah, yeah. And you, you know, the title of your book, is, it’s not about the line. So, what is it about?
Yeah, when I think about where I was, when I finally got to a place where I had to quit drinking, it was really easy for me to feel like a victim and feel like everyone else drinks. Alcohol is everywhere. Everyone’s telling me why? And the answer is, it’s their fault. It’s their problem. It wasn’t until I see I started to see all these things were putting on Mothers, that you know, when it comes to like the last black of Postpartum Support, the lack of mental health support, thinking about my own experiences with postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety and how alcohol was 100%, fueling all of those emotions, then, you know, the lack of benefits at work or flexibility, the unequal distribution of household layer, labor, and then the mental load of motherhood, all of those combined, when you see it sober, with fresh eyes, it feels like mothers are just being set up to fail. So, when I was researching mommy wine culture, and kind of how we got here, and thinking I was going to write this book about the problems with mommy wine culture, I had this revelation, where I said, Holy shit, it’s not about the wine at all. It’s about all these ways that modern motherhood has is setting us up to fail. With this backpack we we’ve been talking about and the lack of unequal labor at home, which is still it’s getting better than it was 50 years ago, but we’re still not there. Yeah, there’s so many different ways that we keep getting got punched over and over again. I think it’s really easy for me, this is what I did, but for many women to take these external experiences, and internalize them and use alcohol to cope with that. Yeah.
I mean, I definitely agree with that. And, you know, I know one of the things that we talked about was the idea that women have sort of been gassed. gaslit to that wine is your quick fix. I mean, I feel like we’ve been taught it’s the easy button. And we tell each other it’s the easy button. So, you know, you’re angry drink, you’re bored drink, you’re overwhelmed drink, or you have had not a moment to have fun in the last week. So, you know, yes, play Candyland, or do the laundry or cook the dinner but you can have, you know a glass of why next to you, which for me was always a bottle. One of the things that’s interesting is in early sobriety, I actually have every email I sent my coach for God, I saved them. So, I’ve got like, two years of it, but for my first 30 and 60 days, I recorded them as two different podcast interviews. And I am shocked the number of times I’m talking about doing laundry like it was like I was just like, oh my god, as I was recording it. This is the most boring thing ever. But it was like, that was my life. I had a two year old and an eight year old. I was working full time my husband was away on the weekends and evenings like you know, she trying to navigate or release sobriety without having a ton of help that is hard.
And trying to navigate early motherhood without help is really hard, too. And I think that’s in part why it is so easy for people or each other to push alcohol as this quick fix, when ultimately it’s doing zero favors. The only people ultimately winning from that narrative is big alcohol, and maybe the patriarchy I’m not sure anyone else is winning from that narrative. Yeah, when I think about early motherhood, and what I genuinely needed, I needed a more flexible workplace, I needed my partner and I to have a very honest conversation about splitting up household chores better, you know, and not expecting everything to go back to the way it was pre baby. I needed to have I needed affordable childcare. I mean, there’s so many things that are so much bigger than a glass of wine or two. Yeah, and this concept of just Mommy needs wine, that it really does do us a disservice when we play it off as a joke, when you see a mother struggling because these, these are bigger issues at play that we need to address. And we need systemic fixes to If mothers are going to be in a better place to thrive. You know,
I think that is 100% true. And I think that we’ve been told, here have a glass of wine so that we don’t pipe up or ask for too much or do too much. And then at the same time, the wine is the problem, meaning that it is impacting your nervous system in your brain and your ability to cope and you’re asleep. And everything else, you talk about the backpack you’re carrying around, I always think you’re, you know, when you’re drinking and losing hours at night, and then you’re hungover and in withdrawal every day, you’re like trying to run this marathon with a ball and chain around your ankle. So, it’s not about the wine, you need all the support. And it is in that when you get that away, you know, a certain amount of your life gets better just by not poisoning your body every day, right?
I mean, it’s not about the wine, but it’s about alcohol and alcohol is an addictive substance, however you want to make a cutesy or harmless or innocent. There’s no way around that fact that it I mean, it is poison. So, when we are laughing and joking about needing wine to cope, it’s, it sends a harmful message. And not just to our kids, but to mothers who may be prone to addiction, but not even like even mothers who are drinking with perfectly moderation. It’s not doing them any favors either. Yeah. And that’s where, you know, I feel like, again, like it’s such a disservice not just to a mom who might struggle with alcohol use disorder, but for anybody, and it’s not a message that mothers, certainly and postpartum depression, should we need to hear any support.
I remember at one point, I mean, with my son, somewhat unrelated to drinking, but my husband came home. And I was like pumping at the dining room table, which I don’t know, anything else that made me feel just horrible. Like, I felt like a freaking cow. And I was like, the nightmare. This is awful. And my husband’s talking to me, and I was like, super pissed and depressed and annoyed. And he was like, maybe you have postpartum depression (PTSD). I was like, maybe you need to fucking step up and do something useful. And he was that like, just that right? And by the way, I was right. He needed to, but do you know what I mean? I was just so like, shut the fuck up. Get home. You’re sitting here. Like, you’re telling me. Two things can be true.
I mean, that’s the thing. I and I struggled with so much impostor syndrome in early motherhood because No, I do not feel so blessed. I felt like I was fucking everybody up every single day now like, not only am I fucked, but I’ve got children who are now fucked, and it was. That was such a scary time and then into feel like there’s no one you can tell that to because they will judge you, they will criticize you. They will say you’re ungrateful. Or you know, they’ll call you a bad mom. It just felt really isolating you couldn’t? You couldn’t even be honest with the people you love the most, because no one felt safe. Yeah, not to be honest about. Yeah.
So, what did you talk about needing to renegotiate some of the duties the mental load the, you know, physical chores with your husband? What was your husband’s reaction when you decided to stop drinking? And what were some of the new divisions of labor or boundaries that you needed to work on with him?
Yeah, so when I quit drinking, my husband was super surprised. Because I was very good at keeping this a secret. I learned from my father how to keep these secrets. And so that he probably felt like it came out of left field. Of course, it didn’t, as we talked about, like this, this was years in the making, but he was surprised but supportive. But if I had been totally honest with him that day, when I said, I need to quit drinking, and I kind of left it like that. I just kind of said it. And then that was the conversation was over. And as time went on, he just kind of saw things shift a little bit. I wish I was more honest with him, because I couldn’t use better support. Yeah. Instead, he continued to live life as we know it, which was bringing home wine or beer, if he felt like it. ordering drinks right in front of me, you know, things that were nothing special to him. But to me in those early days, was like ice through my veins. I can’t believe you did that. Like, again, worst way, the worst way to quit drinking.
Oh my God. So at least I had my Coach, like, telling me and holding my hand and walking through what to do and how to wrap my head around it. So, my husband never stopped drinking completely. But red wine, any wine was like my jam. That was my thing. And so, I was like, I need you to not have anyone in the house. Even if I asked you to please don’t bring it home. And, you know, that was kind of my boundary. But I didn’t go out to dinner for like, a month. And I really had to think through the first. I mean, I talked to my coach about like, I’m freaking terrified to go out to dinner with my husband and another couple, like, how am I going to order? What am I going to say when they can think am I going to break down in tears? I mean, it’s crazy. So, the fact that like, your husband kept bringing home beer and wine, if that was your drink of choice, and like that you didn’t have anyone to talk to about it. That’s so hard.
Yeah, I mean, it was I was really white knuckling early sobriety. And those Yeah, those early months were extremely challenging. But the way I got through it was every day, you know, the first weeks? For me, it was going 100% the hardest. And once I got past the first week, I just kept telling myself, I never have to go through that again. Yeah, I never have to do day one through seven again. Then after two weeks, I never have to be on day 14. Again, you know, that was really how I stayed motivated in early sobriety. And, and I didn’t realize this at the time, but I was using the play the tape for tool. And reminding myself like when my husband would drink half a bottle of wine and leave the rest. Oh, my God, really? I could not feel it. I would have fucking lost it. I just reminded myself, that would not be enough. That would be the biggest tease those two classes would be more brutal than not touching it. And I think what I realized, and I was right was, it’s just easier to not start, then to start and stop, start, and stop. And that really helped me just stay motivated and self-accountable in the early days before I have the appropriate tools. Yeah, to do this the right way.
Yeah. So, at what point did you talk to your husband about I mean, what did when did you tell him more or did you start talking about changing the division of labor before telling anything? about how hard it was to stop drinking or why. Yes, so the division of labor talk. We’ve had dozens of these conversations, right. And it started long before I quit drinking. But for me, the wave the white flag moment was in early motherhood, when my son was just a few months old, when I just felt like I was drowning. In this new world, this learning curve, anxiety, depression, all the things and my husband acted like, it was just another day in the life. I mean, he just, he just went through the motions of the way life had always been. I’m going to take my morning shower, I’m going to sit on the toilet for 10 minutes, and I’m going to do all these things. And I’m looking at him like, your life hasn’t been completely up ended. And who the fuck do you think you are?
Oh, my God, you’re making me laugh. Because there are so many moments where like, literally up, like, getting up, getting my kids up, doing my daughter’s hair, getting her in the shower, while he’s laying in bed, looking at his phone. And then he suddenly, you know, at some point gets up showers. And it’s like, Dave, I got to go, I got to get to work. And like, I’m like, Are you like, yeah, we know.
Yeah, as well. And that’s just, I feel like, because I was taking care of everything, he was able to just kind of glide through early parenthood. And I had to have the conversations, and I had to tell him what I needed. He was so my husband, when I started telling him, You know, I need you, I need you to pick it up. If this isn’t working, I can’t be in charge of all of it. And we can’t be expecting me to still be responsible for all the chores and household duties I was doing prior. And he was more than willing. You know, if anything, he felt frustrated, because the times when he did try to help I push them away, or I was controlling, or I was telling him he was doing it wrong. Yeah. And I really pushed him off, and probably made him feel like, I’m just going to stay out of her way. Or she’s going to snap at me.
Yes, yeah. So, I think, you know, that’s not going to happen in every relationship. But I think many people are surprised that it is more common than we might think that our partners genuinely do want to be fathers, or, you know, co parents. And they’re just maybe a little confused and perplexed and not sure what this new role is. And they feel like they’re walking on broken glass. So that’s, that’s how our conversation started. And again, like everything, every single milestone or change in the schedule, or life, we’ve had to revisit it over. And I mean, it’s an evolving conversation, because life doesn’t stay the same. And we roll with it. But yeah, in early motherhood, I did not know that that was a conversation that even needed to be had. And when I first had it, I felt like, I was failing. This is probably the very first checkbox for mother failing.
Because I couldn’t do it on my own anyway. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I remember in early motherhood, like sit and of course, I was like, drinking during this time, but I was sat down to do one of those like, postpartum yoga classes, like, in on my TV. And this woman was just sitting there, and they were she was like, you’ve been through so much. Your body’s been through so much. And I was like, alone. I mean, my baby was snappy in my house, just started crying because she was being nice to me. I mean, I was just like, okay, holy shit. Apparently these emotions are very close to the baby. Yoga will do that to you. Yeah. I love it. Well, so what can mothers do? So, imagine or you’re talking to someone listening to this podcast? They’re worried about their drinking. They’re in that trying to moderate, stop, start cycle. They’re completely overwhelmed. What’s the first step that they should take?
I think I mean, there’s so many things you can do. But if you are kind of curious about sobriety, but you’re not ready to take that step yet, it would still be worthwhile to join a sober community or a sober, curious community, and listen in and just be a fly on the wall and see if it resonates. I mean, these are conversations and communities that I only wish exists existed and I was a part of five years ago that I, that I could even just be a fly on the wall and not have to figure out where the kids are, you know what to tell the partner all the things. So, I think that’s a great stepping stone, if you’re curious. And then beyond that, it would be assuming you don’t need to medically detox. And if you do, you’ve got to talk to your doctor and go through that, go through them. But otherwise, taking a 30 day break, and using it as just a genuine break, and to see how you feel to see what you notice, like use it as an opportunity to see what changes take place, does your sleep improve? Does your mood improve? What feels to do? What feels good, what feels the same? It’s a really good starting point, then, you know, the other thing I would say, for anybody, especially in these early days, one of the best things you can do is shake up your routine. If you know five o’clock is just your, that’s your drink time, that’s your time you normally sit down with a cocktail, you get out of the house at five o’clock, you make a point to put yourself in a place where you are doing something different, where you’re kind of shaking things up, and you are not setting yourself up to fail, just by completely being reliant on willpower.
So, I mean, those would be the best ways to start, but it’s what we were talking about earlier. Like it’s such a good time to try this. It’s such a good time to be sober curious, I think about the mocktail options that are picking up steam, the nonalcoholic drinks that are really growing as an industry and just how many sober communities are out there. They’re seemingly endless. So even if you go to a community that you don’t feel like you click with, there’s probably 100 more. Yeah, in that same in the same niche that you can kind of look at and say, Well, I’ll try this one instead. And it’s a great place to start.
Yeah, I completely agree. And, you know, the good news is that it is so much more mainstream these days to take a break from drinking. I mean, from Dry January, the Dry July to Sober October, you don’t have to wait. And I don’t suggest you do until one of those months. But you know, talking about it like a health kick, like I’m going to take 30 days to just take a break from drinking and see how I feel without it. It is, you know, people will not be like, Oh my God, what happened to you a problem? If they’re pregnant, they’re totally uninformed. Oh, my God, the pregnancy thing, right? But yeah, it’s, it’s way more common. And you’ll be amazed when you get away from it, how much better you feel?
I think yeah, the truth will come after even just four weeks when you will start to notice the changes. With my own sobriety, I, I started to find all the things that I was looking for through alcohol, which was you know, a sense of connection, a sense of purpose, feeling more confident, feeling strong. Not just physically but mentally, I mean, all the things that I’ve spent most of my life struggling with, and using alcohol as a coping mechanism for I was able to find in my own way through my sobriety, which is kind of the magic of it. And not something I would have expected when I first quit drinking, thinking I was setting myself up for a life of deprivation.
Oh my God. That’s what I was praying to just the that I would spend the rest of my life I’m just sad and craving and, you know, being jealous of everyone who was drinking. And, you know, if you feel that way right now and you’re listening to this, we just want to tell you that is not the case you will not feel the way you do now for the rest of your life.
If so, you know, if I wish I could go back and talk to myself and who I was before I quit and just motivate and inspire that person. And just let them know that quitting is not the ending. By any means. It really is the beginning. You know, I’d like to think of it as a butterfly metamorphosis, because you really are transforming into almost yourself and you’ll be stronger and healthier and more resilient. And I wish we talked about it more that way. And I’m like, when you watch movies and TV shows, you know, you got the token, sober person who, who feels like, they’re always just one drink away from going back down the rabbit hole, or they’re miserable like that is not that is not this experience is nothing like that. And there’s a lot to look forward to.
Yeah, and I, I sort of always go back and forth between looking at it in two ways. In one way, it’s this big thing that’s super transformational, and a gift you’re giving to yourself. And this, you know, this really tender time of evolving. And the other times I look at it, I’m like, it’s just a beverage. Like, it’s just like having a Diet Coke versus a coke like, this does not need to define you for your whole life. You can think about it like being a vegetarian, like it’s a health and lifestyle choice, and you’re good going to the exact same restaurant and ordering a different item on the menu. But you know, like we said, with the it’s not about the wine, but it is about the wine, like, it’s this big transformational thing. That’s an incredible gift to yourself. And it’s just a beverage like both.
And when you have you know, by the time you hit a certain point sober, you don’t even think about it. Like the only time I even think about alcohol is when I’m at a sober meeting. I mean, it just doesn’t even occurred to me. And that’s what I love, too is like, my kids rarely see alcohol. I mean, my husband doesn’t bring alcohol home anymore. And even if he does, you know, he’s drinking a beer maybe once a month. My family is not, we do not our lives don’t revolve around alcohol, and certainly not the way they used to not the way I grew up. And I feel like that’s such a gift for my children to know that life doesn’t have to revolve around alcohol. There is so much opportunity and fulfillment that comes from life. Not necessarily sober, but just where alcohol isn’t part of the all the events, it isn’t heard of the birthdays. It’s just a side note in our stories, if you if they even want them to be and I think that’s a real gift to offer our children too. Yeah, I totally agree.
Well, tell us about your book, tell us you know, what it’s about how you walk people through different areas like what your purpose was in writing it.
When I first wrote the book, it was meant to be a bit of a memoir slash how I clicked in game book. But what happened was I first wrote it and then the pandemic hit. And I went to my agent, and I was like, the book is going to have to completely change because we saw what happened during the pandemic where everything got shut down. Except of course, you know, the liquor stores were which only ramped up we saw a parents that’s specifically mothers get inundated with now in charge of homeschooling children. And just we saw the mental load of motherhood just weigh us down further and further and how alcohol seemingly drinking rates skyrocketed during that time. And surprisingly, that’s also around the time when my friend, Emily Paulson, started this over Mom Squad, and I started prepping Part of my very first sober community.
So, through the book, I share kind of what I’m seeing from the trends and also the social narratives around mommy wine culture, mental little motherhood, lack of support for mothers, and also sobriety and the opportunity that comes in sobriety. I talk and share stories from other sober mothers and how they fell into the alcohol trap and how they came out of it. And my hope is, through this Bop, and through conversations like these, that we can create a sober movement, where people can feel proud and be vocal about their sobriety and have, there’s no shame in having a recovery story or journey. It’s exciting, and it’s a beautiful, a beautiful way to live an inspiring lifestyle and something we want and hope for all of us.
I love that. That’s perfect. So, the name of the book is it’s not about the wine, the loaded truth behind mommy wine culture, and where can people find you and the book and follow up?
Yeah, so I’m on Facebook, Instagram, my handle is the @ultimatemomchallenge. And the book is available for sale. It comes out September 12. It’s available anywhere books are sold, and it’s currently available for pre-orders now.
Perfect. Thank you so much for coming on the show.
Thank you, Casey. This was great. I loved getting the chance to talk to you.
Thank you for listening to this episode of The Hello Someday Podcast. If you’re interested in learning more about me or the work I do or accessing free resources and guides to help you build a life you love without alcohol, please visit hellosomedaycoaching.com. And I would be so grateful if you would take a few minutes to rate and review this podcast so that more women can find it and join the conversation about drinking less and living more.