How Motherhood Pushed Me to Get Sober


Mommy wine culture. Wine glasses marked “Mommy’s Little Helper,” champagne popped in the hospital for the person who just birthed, and alcohol Instagram accounts specifically marketed to moms as if there’s no way to survive motherhood without it. It sucks you right in, though. Well, it sucked me right in. The foundation for my problematic relationship with alcohol was well-laid, but motherhood brought out the worst. Motherhood is also what brought me to quit and become sober.

The idea of a ‘wine mom’ or mommy wine culture is not problematic on its face. Indeed, many women can find humor in a glass of wine, and can in a way, reclaim some of their identity that may have been lost after a long day of parenting, work, or both. I certainly enjoyed this new ‘right’ to a drink once I became a mother in 2018. However, as my baby grew, I noticed just how much damage this earned privilege was causing to my parenting, and my experience of motherhood.

Looking back, I’d consider myself what is often referred to as a ‘gray area drinker.’ Someone who drinks often, far more than just socially, but hasn’t suffered apparent losses from it. I hadn’t been arrested and hadn’t lost important relationships. I hadn’t lost a job or anything tangible because of my drinking. I didn’t consider myself an alcoholic, and my friends and family wouldn’t either. But I did have a long history of hating my relationship with alcohol— the drinking every night, the too-drunk nights, the hangovers, blackouts, and bad decisions. In the decade before becoming a mom, I had tried so many times to moderate my drinking or quit for planned or unplanned amounts of time. “I’ll stop at 3 drinks,” “I will only drink Thursday through Saturday,” “I won’t drink for 30 days.” I could never moderate. Keeping it to certain days didn’t always work. But when I stopped altogether, I had some long stretches of more than a month at a time without a drink. However, when I became a mom, this now-obvious struggle became much more apparent and problematic.

After the birth of my first child, I had postpartum anxiety. The constant anxious feeling was amplified by having to keep a tiny human alive, and within the pressures of modern parenting. I obsessed about breastfeeding, sleep, and every little thing that could affect this new little one.

Everything had to be done the ‘right way’ or the ‘best way.’ I’ve come to believe it’s this very anxiety that actually kept me from drinking during the day, always waiting until after bedtime to open my bottle of wine. I didn’t want to be a ‘bad mom’ or drink ‘on the job.’ It also kept me from going out at night, seeing friends, or doing any sort of self-care. Eventually, I noticed that much of my day was spent hungover, wracked with guilt and shame, and in a mental tennis match of whether I would drink again after tonight’s bedtime, and if so, how.

But I deserved that escape, right? I had earned it after everything I did that day at home, at work, for my baby, and my family. I bought that lie for far too long, blinded by the encouragement young moms get to indulge in a drink as a way to cope with parenting. In 2019, the guilt and shame for this indulgence became so powerful that something shifted in me. I knew I needed to stop.

It didn’t work right away. I’d stop for three days, or ten days, and pick up again, off and on, off and on. I was never really able to fully commit to sobriety, but the inability to just-not-drink was agonizing. During one of these periods between sober days, my family met up with some friends who also had young kids. One of these friends was eight months sober and was a new dad to a three-month-old baby. When I saw him that day, he was happy and clear-minded, and despite sleep deprivation, he was really there with his baby. He had what I wanted. It took me several more tries, but I’ve been sober since Halloween of 2019.

The reason I wanted to write this post is because it may have been better, not easier, but better with more support. I didn’t want to be judged because I was too afraid to ask for help or to talk about my drinking. I definitely wasn’t going to walk into an AA meeting or disclose my ‘bad parenting’ to my doctor.

I wish I had known that the connections made at a meeting could have given me the encouragement I really needed on the hard days of early sobriety. I wish I had known about the online communities of sober moms instead of pushing through alone. I wish I had known that my experience was so similar to countless other mothers and parents who had bought the lie that alcohol was a healthy way to take the edge off of parenting.

But what I wish for the most is to have that time back, when my first child was little. Instead of being wrapped in a fog of anxiety further fueled by alcohol, I could have been more present and savored his littleness more. The freedom of not drinking is incredible in that way. Drinking every night is exhausting, expensive, and it sucks your presence out of the present. The mental space that’s opened up by no longer having to run through the guilt and shame of the night before, or whether I’ll drink tonight and if I need to get to the store…is astounding. Even the energy of not being hungover, still tired, but not hungover and focused on my misery, is a game changer.

I can really be present with my kids, and savor the time I have with them every day. Alcohol absolutely kept me from doing that. I know I can’t get that time back with my first child. I choose not to dwell on it (too much). Being completely sober for my second child’s entire life is the greatest gift. I don’t always have good days, but sobriety has been a major factor in my ability to handle the bad ones and move on to tomorrow.

At three years sober, I started going to meetings. I’ve seen the power of community at work in keeping people sober and supporting them when they are struggling. Even though I know I have too much to lose if I drink again, meetings have kept me motivated to stay sober during triggering times. These meetings also showed me the impact that recovering out loud can have.

I don’t hide my sobriety anymore. I want to be there for people who may be sober-curious, or know they need to make a change but don’t know where to start. I’m an open book, in hopes, that sharing my story will help someone else feel less alone in their dark days, in early recovery, and in this amazing sober life.

If you’re struggling with alcohol (and parenting), you’re not alone, I promise! Reach out to a friend (or me!), check out an online community or app, or go to

By Christine Costa

Christine Costa is a mom of two in Central MA. She loves exploring nature with her children and can often be found rallying other parents to join her family outside on the trails. She loves reading when she has the energy, and can’t help but Netflix a little when she doesn’t. She is passionate about normalizing mental health and substance abuse challenges. She can be reached at [email protected].


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