Over the holidays, Odd Mom Out’s Jill Kargman and actress Drew Barrymore proudly displayed these best-selling holiday gifts of what I call "wino socks," with messages woven into the soles like, “If you can read this, bring me a drink,” and a napkin festooned with wine glasses and a mantra that read “ Let’s get ready to stumble.”
First, it must be known that I’m a fan of both of these ladies and their penchant for cheeky swag. But I couldn’t help but wonder how the image of mommy pining for her 20-proof sippy cup has become as prevalent a cliché as a 5 pm text full of wine glass emojis.
Now, before you get defensive, if you like to partake, I raise a glass to you. But it’s a glass of Pellegrino. I’ll fully admit that I occasionally get jealous of those who still imbibe. When I saw those Instagram posts, I longed for a drink — or how I used to feel while drinking. Booze did a bang-up job of soothing me in social settings, where I always felt a little anxious. It also did a fabulous job of lubricating the friction and stress of working while parenting young children, especially over the holidays.
From 'ho, ho, ho' to 'dry January'
It’s no wonder Dry January is such a thing. The holidays are full of various stresses and abundant opportunities to drink your way through them. According to the Center of Alcohol Studies at Rutgers University in New Jersey, the holidays are filled with triggers that can lead to binge-drinking (consuming many drinks in a 2-hour period). Aside from a nasty hangover, binge drinking can raise your blood pressure and disturb your heart rate with an arrhythmia, also known as Holiday Heart Syndrome.
Pregnancy is like having nine dry Januarys all at once — those first few drinks afterward felt like an embrace from a long lost relative. Through parenting, I met plenty of like-livered people with whom I could toast. But it all came to a halt a few years ago, when a vicious bout of acid reflux threw me on the wagon: alcohol was my chief trigger. Instead of feeling good, my formerly beloved vino and vodka would only set my gullet aflame. The actual act of drinking brought me such physical pain I just about (save for roughly five beers a year) gave it up altogether.
Banishing booze can change your relationships
You would think quitting booze as a parent in your forties wouldn’t impact your social life but it did mine — and in ways I couldn’t even begin to expect. “I don’t know who you are anymore,” said one friend when I told her how and why I’d quit. Gradually, she stopped making plans with me after breakfast.
Though I never once said a negative thing to anyone about drinking and didn’t mind going to bars after I stopped, I realized how heavily my social interactions and some relationships were forged around where and what we’d drink.
Quitting booze, even if you want to and even if it’s only for a little while, can be challenging. If you’re committed to a Dry January, know that your social interactions may shift a little. For what it’s worth, I harbor not one regret about my lifestyle change and, to be perfectly honest, there are countless reasons I’m grateful my body insisted I dry out — as both a person and a parent.
The benefits of opting out of the 'wine mom' thing
No more hangovers
One of the greatest benefits of not drinking is never waking up with the sweaty, debilitating nausea of a nasty hangover. Kids don’t know from hangovers, nor do they care. Their needs still have to be met no matter how you feel, and it’s not fair to put their activities on hold just because you had one too many and now feel like poo.
My kids know you can have fun sober
Eventually, children become teenagers and teenagers become adults of legal drinking age. One Australian study showed that a parent’s relationship with alcohol can have a direct influence on their child. The way we “model” drinking has been associated with an early initiation to drinking and increased later use of alcohol. Though their dad enjoys the occasional beer or cocktail, my kids can see from just being around me that you don’t need a drink to have a laugh, or be social.
I’m a cheap date
Booze isn’t cheap. I live in New York City, where it can cost around 15 dollars for a cocktail and at least 25 dollars for a decent bottle of wine at a restaurant. Ditching drinks during dinners out can reduce your tab by at least 20 percent, leaving plenty of cash for dessert — or in your wallet for summer camp.
My sleep quality has improved
Many studies have shown that sleep quality is adversely affected by alcohol, and I’ve personally found this to be true. Though I’d pass out faster, I’d often sleep more restlessly and my body temperature would fluctuate enough to wake me as my body metabolized the booze. Not only do I sleep a hell of a lot better, I wake up in a better mood and am better equipped to do what it takes to get us all out the door in time.
I’m every bit as social as before — if not more so
That social anxiety I mentioned earlier has all but dissipated. I no longer feel like I need a drink to approach anyone, dance, sing karaoke or anything. I just do it. However, I will admit I’ve come to prefer catching up with a friend over a meal instead of meeting them at a crowded bar, where we’re limited to banal chit-chat because we can barely hear each other.
So you see, I’m no teetotaler but I’ve found the benefits of being booze-less to be many. Though there is a study out there that says abstainers might not live as long as those who drink moderately, at least I’ll remember everything I did while I was here.