What’s wrong with the mummy wine culture?

Last week, in the first part of this post, I looked at the reasons that mums feel they need to drink. This second part will look at what the mummy wine culture is and why people are beginning to question it. Next week I’ll look at why mums really do not need to drink and finally how we can thrive as mums without wine.

I need to make it clear from the very beginning that this is not a post judging or criticising anyone or anything. I was so firmly in the mums needs wine camp and I struggled long and hard to get out of it and to work out how to function as a mother without it. Please don’t feel got at, criticised or attacked my anything I say.

One Year No Beer, a group that really helped me when I was trying to quit (the successful time!) talks about the shamed lonely drinking mums. The ones who believe they have a problem but feel alone and too guilty or ashamed to reach out for help. 

If this is you, I want to show you with this post that there is another way. It is possible to cope with everything parenting throws at you without alcohol, AND most importantly, you can be happy doing it!

What is it?

It is pretty much impossible to escape the mummy wine culture that has been floating around for a good few decades now. Initially starting with red wines, moving onto the chardonnays, pinot grigios, proseccos and now the ever-present gin. Mummy wine culture is not limited to one country. A simple internet search will flag up articles from all over the world highlighting the prominence of the mummy wine culture across the globe. 

Nor is this a new phenomenon. Pictures, books and films throughout the last few centuries have shown women drinking gin, martini, wine and even laudanum with the accompanying euphemisms – mother’s milk, mother’s friend, mother’s ruin and most recently, mummy juice.

Nowadays, those in the mummy wine set are generally educated, capable mothers who are wine/gin appreciating connoisseurs, drinking as a means of relaxation and socialisation while sustaining a high octane, high achieving existence. 

As I said, I was fully in the mummy wine camp. Don’t get me wrong, I started drinking way before I had children, but the mummy wine culture was there, waiting to welcome me when motherhood arrived, and I was more than ready to fall into it.

Wine o’clock

Wine o’clock was 4/5 pm. Boys back from school, homework, starting to cook, children wanting attention, squabbling together. These few hours seemed endless and hard. Getting children to do homework or read, eat without complaining, have baths without flooding the house, get ready for bed and then actually go to sleep – aaahhh! Wine soothed it all and made it feel manageable.

Many people say they don’t start drinking until the children are asleep but most wine mummies I have seen, just about reach the 5pm mark. To be honest, I think I would have drunk at those times anyway (wine after a hard day at work?), but I was very willing to be convinced that I deserved/needed a drink at wine o’clock!

Why is it so talked about now?

Support

The wine mummy culture taps into the fact that parenting is lonely and hard and offers what all mothers need – SUPPORT!

The mummy wine culture became more talked about since mothers started to open up about how hard parenting is. This allowed others to come out of the woodwork and say, yes! I find it hard too! People opened up about having a drink to relax after a hard day with the children, and social media exploded with people saying – Hey I drink after a hard day with children too!

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Marketing

With social media buzzing and books being published about drinking to cope with children, the marketing people had a field day. It is hard to find anything mummy related now that doesn’t have a more than generous smattering of mummy wine references. Bottled sized wine glasses with ‘Wine o’clock’ emblazoned across the front. Wine glasses for new mothers saying ‘I’ve waited 9 months for this’. Tumblers with ‘Mommy Juice’ printed on them. ‘Emergency mum fuel’, ‘Goodnight kids, hello wine’. ‘Mummy’s medicine’, the list goes on and on. 

I have had more mummy wine birthday cards than I’d like, but they also made me feel safe. Everyone was saying drinking to cope was normal, so what I was doing was acceptable – all mothers need wine to cope. 

But, with the explosion of honesty about mummy wine, come the questions about what the mummy wine culture is actually telling us.

Mummy wine backlash

Honesty?

The honesty that came with the mummy wine culture allowed people to unburden and show the reality of coping as mother, so people could feel they were doing OK. Mummy wine culture allowed people to get the essential support they needed, so what is there to question?

The problem is that it can be hard to speak up when you start to worry about your drinking because you don’t want to break the camaraderie and the sisterhood. If you are not drinking, it’s considered odd. If you say you’re are worried about your drinking you’ll get the dreaded ‘are you an alcoholic’ questions, followed by the reasons that the other person isn’t. Suddenly your support mechanisms are collapsing. So much easier to keep going. Please don’t think I am being judgy because I promise I am not. I have been the giver and receiver of such comments, it is what alcohol does.

Change

Thankfully, things do seem to be slowly changing.  Many people have begun to question and reject the idea of the mummy wine culture. Articles, books, blogs and social media accounts now abound saying – whoa! I think this might not actually be the best coping strategy! Clare Pooley was one of the first to bravely open up about her drinking in her blog about her first year sober. Having realised that her drinking had got out of control, she quit drinking but in her first year sober she was diagnosed with breast cancer (thankfully now cancer free).  This is now a book called The Sober Diaries and can be found with this link.

Other good book in a similar vein are The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober and The Sober Revolution.

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I am not going to go into facts and figures about increasing numbers of female drinkers for a few reasons. I think statistics like this are often utterly inaccurate. It is well known that doctors double the amount of alcohol patients say they consume. Like I said in my previous post, people either don’t want to be honest about how much they are drinking, or they don’t know how much they are drinking. However, even with dodgy statistics the medical profession is saying that middle aged to older women are now drinking far more than advised and they are worried about it.

Problems with drinking as a mum

Physical Health

The health effects for a woman drinking are unfortunately far worse than they are for a man drinking the same amount. Our bodies just can’t tolerate it the same way. It increases our risk of a whole host of rather nasty health problems from neurological issues, to heart disease and cancers.

The other problem is that by drinking and enduing hangovers, the time and energy that we could spend on exercise and looking after our bodies is gone. As exercise is amazing for physical and mental health it’s definitely a reason to start questioning the advisability of using wine to cope!

Mental Health

Another health problem related to the over consumption of alcohol is mental health. In Why do mums drink?, I mentioned that mums often develop mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. Being a mum is hard enough (See Mental Load comic!), it is stressful and exhausting. You then add to that loneliness, the feeling that you can’t ask for help, the feeling that you are failing when presented with happy social media images, the frustration of your expectations, the high expectations that you place on yourself and the general all-consuming MUM GUILT.

The conundrum is, that most people don’t realise, until they stop drinking, that by drinking to cope with being a mum, you are 100% exacerbating and sometimes creating your mental health problems. It’s funny, I just did a search in my own blog website to find the posts where I had written about anxiety to give you more details, and every single post came up!! I think that proves the impact of quitting drinking on my anxiety.

Over the years I suffered from depression, post-natal depression and anxiety. Anxiety to the point I couldn’t leave my house. When I was bad, the only thing that would give me temporary (very) relief, was drinking. What I realised when I quit, was that alcohol was the cause of my anxiety. In the last 16 months sober, my anxiety has all but disappeared. That’s not to say it doesn’t rear its head sometimes (see Furious Sober Yoga Mummy), but it is never as bad, always temporary and always manageable.

Normalisation

One of the things that worried me most, and I’ve seen other mums worrying about it, is the effect the mummy wine culture has on our children. I’ve always been terrified that The Bear will think drinking is totally normal and it will have horrendous repercussions for his diabetes when he’s older. I was particularly struck by this a few years ago. My niece, then 15, and I had a shopping dates in town. Unfortunately, my childcare didn’t go to plan so my eldest two and my younger niece had to come along for the trip. We had a good trip but obviously shopping with children in tow is exhausting! Later than evening my niece put up a social media picture with her drinking something out of a wine glass (I think it was OJ!) saying: ‘Shopping with children, now I need a break’. I thought ‘Aaahhh!’ What are we doing? She doesn’t even have children yet or understand the full load of parenting/adulthood but the message there is already, alcohol will help you cope!

Time

This is so important. Just take a minute to think about the amount of time that you use when drinking. That first blissful fuzzy 10 minutes that blurs out the stresses, strains, emotions and whatever else we’re hiding from is followed by how many hours of nothingness (except maybe fighting, shouting, tears and anxiety).

What could you be doing with that time?

I am definitely not talking about doing more of the mummy stuff! We pretty much stay sober enough to do that anyway. I’m talking about that stuff that could actually nurture you enough to make you feel that you can cope without the booze! I talk a lot about this in my next post, but for now I’ll just mention a few things.

Use your time wisely

Exercise, in whatever form you enjoy it, is literally a miracle drug! Everything you get from alcohol you can get from exercise – and a whole array of other positive benefits. You need to make exercise your habit instead – See How to stop alcohol cravings for how to do this. Realistically you only need 30-45 minutes decent exercise a day and you will feel the positive effects for the next few days. After that 30-45 minutes there is no guilt, no shame, no anger and tears and no wasting hours!

Exercise also improves your mental health. When I took antidepressants, that doctors told me I needed to use them to get to a place where I felt strong enough to make permanent changes in my life, then I could come off them and those changes would help me from falling back into depression. It worked at the time but it is very easy to slip back into old negative thinking patterns when things get hard and no one wants to be on antidepressants for ever! I honestly found regular exercise as good as antidepressants. When things are hard and just for maintenance, use exercise to boost yourself so that you feel strong enough to tackle whatever issues are currently bringing out down. Sign up for my free 7 day email course below to find out how to start feeling better about yourself.

You will now have a little bit of extra time because after your 30-45 minutes exercise, you are sober and feeling great, so no time wasted being drunk and miserable!

You can use this time to start the positive life changes you need.

You need to use that time to focus solely on you? Relax, do something you enjoy, nurture yourself to give yourself that energy you need to handle this mummying stuff! 

There is a piece of advice I give regularly because it has worked for me so many times and it is amazing! It will help you tackle your frustrations when they rear their heads, and will help you to let go of your expectations that are causing so much stress.

We cannot change the past and we cannot change the future. The only thing we can change is the now. Things are as they are, fighting against that will only cause you pain and ultimately make no difference to your situation at all. All you can do is accept your situation, say thank you for the things that are good, and work out what you can do now that will help you to get the future that you want, even if you can’t have this future now. 

Once you accept your present and stop fighting, the universe steps in and you will be amazed how things start falling into place (See Change your thoughts to change your life for more on this).

Please believe me when I say I know exactly how hard that can be. But I have put myself into depression by fighting my life and I have brought myself out by accepting. In my times of acceptance, I have met My Love, the best, kindest, most supportive and loving person that I know; I have found my love of Yoga; I have retrained; I have accepted that I am a self-sufficient wanderer and need to work for myself; I have started this blog and I have become sober.

In these times I have been a better, happier, kinder person.  It is a constant work in progress, but I have no doubt that, with consistent practice, I will learn to truly live in the present.

To read more on how to learn to live in the now, my favourite book is the Power of Now by Echkart Tolle which you can buy by following the link.

To read more on how to learn to let go of your expectations and allow the world to work for you, my favourite book is the The Seven Secrets of Spiritual Success by Deepak Chopra.

It is a problem

Most mums don’t hit rock bottom. Most mums continue to function as mothers, wives, friends and part of the community every day. But many of them do it with the constant knowledge that their drinking had taken on a life of its own and they no longer feel in control of their lives. Balancing on the knife edge of just being OK with the knowledge that rock bottom, depression, collapse and burn out could be on either side of this blade. Often these fears keep us drinking.

Rock bottom is not a place you need to reach before you take back control.

Why do mums drink?

This is going to be a four-part post – one now and two on subsequent weeks. It is such a relevant topic that I want to do it justice.

This week we’ll have a look at the reasons that mums find they are wanting to drink. Next week we’ll look at the mummy wine culture and how mums are starting to question the culture. Then I’ll look at why mums DO NOT need to drink and lastly we’ll look at how mums can survive and thrive without it. 

So, why do mums drink?

Many of the reasons are the same reasons that other people drink. See Why do people drink? for more on this.

Socialising

I drank way before I had children, so I don’t think we start drinking just because children arrived. I was drinking after work, with friends out and with family at home. Drinking, and usually too much, was very much a part of any social life I had. For most, drinking is thoroughly ingrained as a way of socialising, celebrating, commiserating and relaxing – so once the baby is born, it’s business as usual!

However, after having a baby, nights out happen far less often, so socialising often happens at home, with family and friends or with other mothers. Drinking at home becomes normal.

I think I unconsciously, or maybe consciously, chose mummy friends who drank too. A bit of a party animal? Yes please, I’ll be friends with you. Non-drinking, vegan, yoga mummy – no thanks! Despite the fact, or maybe because of the fact, I wished I could be a non-drinking, vegan, yoga mummy!

Yet the social drinking at home or with other mums, doesn’t seem to lessen the excessive drinking on the odd night out/celebration you have. I still went at it as if you’ve been deprived of a drink for that whole time!

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Normalisation

When something seems normal, you are far less likely to question it. After my first baby I had a night out with some other new mums. The babies were about 3 months old and it was near Christmas, so obviously the only choice was a boozy night out – that’s all there is right? I wasn’t breast feeding by this stage but most of the others were, and they chatted about pump and dump nights like it was completely normal. Pump and dump for anyone who doesn’t know, is drinking lots, expressing your breast milk and throwing it out, so theoretically any of the booze that’s gone into the breast milk has been thrown away and your baby won’t be drinking booze. I am very uncertain of the scientific nature of this plan! But please can we actually take a minute to consider the enormity of this idea. We’re told it normal and we deserve a night out, yes we do but why does that automatically mean getting smashed? Also, the enormity of the fact that at 3 months old, I left my first son with his father for 2 nights while I went to hospital with binge drinking induced gastritis – drinking loads of white wine having not drunk for a year. I literally cringed when the doctor told me what he was writing down. Nothing about it was normal. 

But everything tells us and we tell each other that it is normal, and we are just coping. I only really drank after 4pm, because if I drank before I would feel so awful for the rest of the day that I couldn’t function. As I slowly crept into the land of daytime weekend drinking, soon before I quit for good, I was staggered by the number of people, with children in tow, drinking in the day time. Dad’s groups, feeding babies with pints at 10.30am. Mum’s afternoon teas with prosecco. Cocktails, gin, wine, beer, you name it! Instead of worrying me, at first I found it very comforting that I was not alone in this. Almost like a carte blanche to do it more. Thankfully, I also think it started bringing things to a head until I finally scared myself enough to quit.

Lonely

It is totally understandable though. Being a mother is bloody lonely. We go from working, socialising people who speak to other adults on a daily basis, to finding ourselves at home, alone, with a nonverbal human that we are utterly responsible for with no support. Family, friends and partner are probably at work and there we are, stuck. I might sound like I am stereotyping here, but in all the families with children I have known, the father works and the mother is at home with the children doing EVERYTHING else.

Mental Load

I saw a comic strip called ‘You should’ve asked’ that became a book called Mental Load, a few years ago that resonated completely and I am sure resonated with many other mothers. Read it here, its amazing, but I’ve put one picture here as an example.

By Emma

It just seems to be the lot of a mother that our heads never stop as we try to juggle school, after school activities, working, tidying, cleaning, cooking, washing, doctors, dentists, school costumes and activities, finances, weekend child fun and shopping – usually with toddler in tow. Not to mention giving enough attention to your small people while teaching them how to live and hoping they’ll be nice, kind, well rounded, successful educated people, while questioning everything you do in case it somehow psychologically damages them in the future!

The lists go on and on and round and round.

Women can be very harsh and critical of other women – only take a glance at the breast-feeding v bottle feeding forums! Ouch! It’s no different with parenting. Working mothers often get a lot of stick for not being at home with their children. Two things on this. Firstly, why on earth do working fathers not get the same stick, secondly, working mothers don’t escape from the mental load, they just have to manage work on top of it! The only benefit of working is financial (and possibly your sanity!) 

Ooooh, my feminist side starts to rage!

Expectations

But it’s not just people being critical of other people. We are hugely critical of ourselves. I talk about being kind to yourself in many of my previous posts and go into detail son how to start in my free 7 day course below. But it is so important for sobriety and happiness so please sign up and have a look.

We expect ourselves to be amazing mothers, partners, employees etc. I had images of me as a lovely mother, playing with my children, laughing, baking with them, doing arts and crafts in a tidy house with delicious nutritious meals simmering away. We would snuggle and read together; we would have lovely days out.

I mean it is so laughably far from the truth! I am hysterical in the house! Baking – while fun on occasion, creates a messy kitchen, messy child, inedible cake – just more flipping hard work for me! Same with arts and crafts. By the time I got to The Baby, I was of the opinion that the more time out of the house creating less dirty, messy chaos, the better! And everyone playing nicely – what a joke! We get on really well as a family and the boys all love each other, but that means nothing when it comes to bickering, arguing, winding each other up, play fighting and hurting each other!

But instead of saying – ‘Aaaah! Help! This is all too much!’, we take a picture of the one nice moment, in the day of chaos, and post it on social media saying – ‘What an amazing day! So grateful for my lovely life!’.

Of course, we are grateful, and we do love our children. But denying the hard stuff is missing out a huge part of what parenting is. Mums who are struggling (most of us), see these images and captions and think – ‘Shit I’m failing. Why can’t I get this right?’ And the critical, negative loop continues exacerbating the mental load, negative mental health and the need to drink.                                                                                  

Parenting is hard!

And I’ll say it again parenting is hard!

Don’t get me wrong. I love my children so completely and there are magical moments with them, but a lot of the time it’s just lonely hard work. I was at home, alone, managing two toddlers. I dreaded most days.

But so many mother’s feel like they aren’t allowed to say ‘This is hard! Help me!’ The idea is that we have to be so grateful all the time that if we dare to say, actually I’m not enjoying this, then you feel ashamed that you are an ungrateful, bad parent. I won’t go into the ins and out of how hard parenting is; if you are a parent and you are reading this, you know! But if you are lonely, finding things hard every day and feeling guilty for doing so, is it any wonder that a little escape behind the wine seems like a good idea?

No time for you

In the chaotic circus that is out parenting lives, it is very rare that we make time for ourselves.

As a mummy, we are often so busy ensuring that our children eat and drink well, that we forget to do this basic thing for ourselves. The problem is that unstable blood sugar levels and thirst, increase our cravings for alcohol.

Self-care is so important. Any person I have talked to who has quit has done it by starting to focus on a little self-love and self-care.

Alcohol gives us a momentary relief from everything going on outside and in our own head. We need this as we are not giving ourselves that relief anywhere else. Our lives are constantly full on but we know that when it gets too much we can have that immediate relief from a glass of wine. 

We can do the same without alcohol though. I’ll talk more about how in the second part of this post but for now see How to beat the alcohol illusion.

Frustration

Frustration was such a massive part of the reason that I drank. Woman are told that, now we’ve broken the bonds of the patriarchal society and we get all those nice things like education and votes, that we can do and be anything! The world is our oyster! Anything is possible! You can have it all!

But hold on, can we? Can we have children and have everything?

When children come along you give up a huge part of yourself. It happens naturally, you can’t help it. You are responsible for this tiny human that you have created and that you love fiercely, so there is no choice but to put yourself aside and take care of them. Even more so the more children you have.

High flying careers, travelling adventures or anything you might have imagined in this oyster of a world, suddenly becomes far harder to achieve. So you have talented, educated, capable women – who are now at home cooking, cleaning, washing, and looking after small people.

The big world of opportunity has just become a lot smaller.

I struggled with this alot (probably the reason I did master’s degrees, moved abroad and retrained after my children!) My post, Change your thoughts to change your life, looks at how we always have a choice in anything. I did, and still do at times, wrestle with this idea. Yes I have the choice to have a travelling career but I would have to accept seeing my children less and them not liking it (they barely like it when I go to a shift!). So yes, it’s a choice I make to not have the travelling career to be with my children, but that doesn’t always lessen the frustration!

Years ago, just after The Bot was born, I was talking to my sister who was feeling the mummy frustration. My sister is a clever, capable, sociable, bubbly amazing person. She is a Cambridge graduate and she can charm anyone into doing anything she wants. She was at home with four children.  She said to me, women would be better off being like the poorer women of countries like India, who are OK with their lot at home with children because they don’t have any other expectations. I was horrified by this idea, I still am for many reasons that I won’t go into here, but I get her point now. We are given access to the world, and then the door is closed, and sometimes it feels locked and barred.

I’ll talk more about how to lessen this frustration in the second part of this post, but for more now, have a look at my post How to build a life you do not want to escape from.

Mental Health

I think this frustration was the most damaging to my mental health, especially when I was pregnant with The Baby.

But every parent, and especially mothers, get burnt out! Stress, depression and anxiety can all be related to burn out and exhaustion!  But when you have children, you can’t really burn out and just stop, you have to keep going. So often we keep going with the assistance of antidepressants, drugs or alcohol – and bizarrely there is far more stigma attached to taking antidepressants than there is to downing a few bottles of wine! So we self-medicate with alcohol.

Lack of awareness or denial

Now I have always been hyper aware of how much I drink, but following many conversations with many people, I think people are either unaware of what they are drinking or they don’t want to be aware.

Media advice corroborates these excuses that we make to keep drinking. ‘I need it for stress relief and stress is bad for me.’ ‘I only drink red wine because it’s good for my heart.’

The media also offers confusing advise about safe drinking levels. Many websites say this many ‘drinks’ is too many. But what is a drink? A large glass of wine is 3-4 units, depending on the strength of the wine. Is that one drink or three? A pint is 2-3 units, Is that one, two or three drinks?

I have spoken to people who have said a bottle of wine a night is OK because it’s only 3 drinks (actually 9-10 units, most of your alcohol allowance for the week). I have known people who say they hardly ever drink while quaffing an entire bottle with barely any visible effort or effect.

Denial is not a judgement. I hated being aware of what I was drinking, because I constantly felt the need to do something about it. Even at times I consciously tried to become unaware and just let go to see if that made things better – it didn’t. But when life is on top of you, you do not want to hear that the thing you feel is supporting you is actually the thing that you need to get rid of!

Lack of support  

My firm belief is that all these reasons come down to one thing. Lack of support as a mother. Our communities have all but vanished. We are left with nuclear families, often no extended family around, partners working long hours. We have no community support left to tell us we are doing OK. I think that this is why the mummy wine culture exploded. It offers the support and community that are lacking.  Social media support groups allow you to blow of steam, voice what you might be ashamed to say otherwise about parenting and normalises alcohol as a way of coping with the day to day trials. Drinking with mummy friends is exactly the same, you feel the support and the solidarity of other mums in the same boat.

In my next post I’ll be looking at the mummy wine culture and why there is now a backlash against it.

Furious Sober Yoga Mummy

So apparently, my sister tells me, I got the name of the requested post wrong, and it should be furiously sober yoga mummy not furious sober yoga mummy! There is a difference, but I’ll get to that.

This post emerged in a twofold way. There can be nothing worse, when you are in a bad place, than people telling you that everything is wonderful, and everything is positive. It used to make me feel angry, hopeless and frustrated to be told that being grateful and being positive would make everything better. How could anyone possibly be so patronising and simplistic?!

Now I realise the outrageous hypocrisy of saying this when my blog is stuffed full of be grateful, be positive and change your thinking information. But I do this for two reasons; firstly because I know that when I was actively trying to quit drinking, reading about how things could be better, gave me real hope that I could stop drinking and be happy, and secondly being grateful and positive actually does help, you just have to be in the right place to hear it.   

The times I didn’t want to hear were the times that I felt completely trapped. When I had sunk into funk and didn’t want to fight anymore. When I was in this mindset, it was not the time to hear about gratitude and positivity. Ultimately this mindset was extremely destructive for me and never helped me to reach my goal, but if you need more on that, have a read of my posts  How to build a life you do not want to escape from or Change your thoughts to change your life.  

I am writing this post because I want to show you that my blog is not some social media bollocks. I am not trying to convince you or myself that my life is completely sorted and I am not trying to say my life is now some problem free, Facebook picture perfect existence. Of course it isn’t! I am a working, overwrought, far too driven mother of 3, to say it’s perfect would be disingenuous, and also nonsense. What I am trying to give you hope that, despite all that life throws at us, we can have a better and happier future.

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So back to my sister’s word distinction.

I booked a night in Norfolk for the girls (mother, sister and me) and children (niece and my boys). I love the sea and have been told many times how beautiful the Norfolk beaches are, so I thought we’d go and have a look. Bit too far for a day trip, so I booked a last minute Air BnB. We packed up, beach ready, and drove what seemed like endless hours to get to Holkham beach.

Now, I think as children get older, people forget exactly how difficult toddlers are. So they plan and do things that ‘normal people’ can do and enjoy. ‘Normal people’ do not have toddlers. This whole trip was an example. My sister and mother thought it would be fun to stop, on the way to the beach, in a pretty town and have a browse of the shops. After finally finding a parking spot, I decided it would be a good idea to throw my car keys, to my locked car, in the bin. Not any bin, a proper metal bin with little slits on the side. I literally did not know what to do. I phoned My Love, just on the off chance he could rescue me from this nightmare situation from 100 miles away! Bizarrely, just as I was beginning to freak out, a boy came across the road from a shop with a grabber devise. He had also thrown something in, and instead of freaking out – a la me – he went to borrow a grabber from the shop. With a lot of digging around and a horrendous smell, I got his toy and my keys out.

Then ‘browsing’. The baby was like a naughty whirlwind, going through expensive, boutiquey, ‘we don’t do children’ shops. When he wasn’t instigating the destruction of the shops, he was running out and trying to play with the cars on the road. Great, good start to our fun trip away.

Eventually I dragged my mother out of the shops and on the way to the beach, my niece wanted to show us the old-fashioned sweet shop she had been to before. Queue expensive sugar filled nightmare for The Baby and diabetic nightmare for The Bear.

By the time we reached the beach – 3pm at this point – I had kind of lost my enthusiastic edge already but I was going to persist -we’d come to see the sea hadn’t we. The sea calms me and I love it. Hardi bloody har!!! What my sister had failed to mention was that the ‘beach’ was about half a mile through a forest and then another miles (probably more but we never made it) to the water. Great for their dogs, not so great for my toddler! The Baby, cannot walk at the same pace as everyone else so they charged ahead while the baby and I lagged behind. Halfway across the beach with the remnants of my enthusiasm clinging desperately onto the edges of my sanity, the sky released its full fury. I have never, ever, ever been in rain like it. The Baby and I had rain clothes on but they had soaked right through in 2 minutes. As we reached that two minutes, I watched my wet phobic mother and her little doggy charge past me back to the car without so much as a glance of offer of assistance. Following closely behind her were the rest of the children and my sister plus doggy.

The Baby just before the deluge!

The only person who stopped to help with wet – now crying and wanting to be carried across wet sand – giant lump of a baby, was The Bot. He even offered to give him a piggyback for a bit – but then his wellies started rubbing and giving him cuts on the backs of his legs, which mixed with wet sand was not a good combination. He eventually had to take the wellies off and walk in bare feet which was freezing! Wet cold miserable baby, wet cold miserable son, and wet cold miserable mummy.

The Bot, offering assistance

At some point someone must have realised that we were not appearing at the car because my sister came back to offer a hand. She picked up The Baby, told me how wonderful the rain was, asked why on earth I had a problem – ‘wasn’t it fun?’ ‘why did I have a problem with wet children?’, ‘hadn’t I ever camped before?’. Sorry my lovely sister, I was ready to kick you then back then!

I Iove the rain, but when it’s cold with no shower in sight, I am not so great at being in it! Same with sea, lakes, streams – anything wet! I am absolutely certain that my raging anxiety before the Greenman Festival was exacerbated by the unpleasantness of this experience. A week of showerless rain?!!

Having made it back to the car, wet clothes stripped off everyone, car stinking of wet dog, I attempted to find the house I had rented for the night. Thankfully although far, it was a pretty painless trip. By the time the bags were in and everyone had finished fighting about who was sleeping where, it was way past food time for The Baby and the Bear. We had no food and no clue where the shop was. My anxiety was running pretty high by now, I dumped the children with my mother and dragged my sister to a supermarket. She stocked up on G&T while I stocked up on rose lemonade – and food of course!

I find it so hard, despite years of children and 7 years of The Bear’s diabetes, when food times or food availability is messed with. Although I am so much better, my head goes into overdrive about what carbohydrate ratio he is on at what time, whether his blood sugar is going low because it’s so late without food and what effect the time he is eating will have on his blood sugars for the rest of the night – none off this is helped by The Baby vocally telling me he is hungry. 

While the food was cooking, I was freaking out and took myself off to the conservatory, with my rose lemonade, to have a moments peace listening to the rain. It was at this point that my sister came to join me and suggested that I write the post furious sober yoga mummy. Or so I thought.

You see furious sober yoga mummy implies that like all people, I can be furious as well as happy as well as frustrated as well sad and a whole other host of emotions. Whereas furiously sober yoga mummy implies that I am experiencing those emotions because I am trying to stay sober.

NOT AT ALL!!

Don’t get me wrong, before I stopped drinking. Furiously sober was what I was almost every evening that I couldn’t drink, or every time I tried to quit for a while. Each pregnancy was 9 months of being furiously sober! But that isn’t me anymore. I am so happy that I do not have the cravings that made me furious anymore. All the work I put into myself and changing my habits has led to a craving free sobriety. For more on this see How to stop alcohol cravings and How to beat the alcohol illusion.

Maybe you are reading this and thinking that I really am a moan pot! Maybe I should have taken it all with a sense of humour, maybe I should have been able to shake it off and not let it affect the whole evening. Maybe I will do that in the future, maybe not. I am just me, experiencing emotions and trying to muddle my way through life and family. Hoping that one day everything I am learning and putting into practice will make situations that cause anxiety easier to manage.

The great thing about sobriety is knowing that these crappy emotions don’t last. If drinking, I would have drunk too much, and all it would have accomplished was adding another layer of guilt and anger with myself on top of the other emotions. I may even have verbally kicked my lovely sister (sorry darling!) Helpful? I think not!

Sobriety is not going to cure you of emotions or difficult times.

This summer we have had bereavement, grief, job stress, marital rows about parenting and a toddler who our neighbours kindly call – ‘full of character’! Added to it the usual joys of all being together for far too long.

One thing I have realised is that things get far harder to manage when I go into my head and start over thinking. When I think too much, I feel a huge weight of responsibility for the happiness of everyone around me. My own struggles with mental health make me very fearful of anyone I love having to experience that same thing.

For example, I take 1-2 hours a week to write this blog. Doesn’t seem much but in reality, it’s huge! If The Baby wakes up early, like now, I take the chance to write it while he watches a bit of Netflix – not great parenting but I’m OK with this one while everyone else is asleep. But God forbid I have to do it at another time. If I write it in the evening I feel guilty about not giving My Love enough attention – maybe I’ll ruin our marriage?! If I do it while the boys are playing, I feel guilty that I’m not giving them enough attention – maybe this will affect their self-esteem?! If I write with The Baby without Netflix – no chance! I feel guilty if My Love cleans or cooks or tidies up when I am writing it because I should be helping – maybe he’ll start resenting me?! I feel guilty and annoyed when the boys and My Love start arguing – maybe they’ll fall out so badly that the boys will want to live with their father and be emotionally scarred for life?!

As you can tell, retreating into my head is a bad idea! So I am carrying on with my journey, trying to put everything I have learnt and written about into everyday practice, not just for sobriety now but for happiness. And it is working! Although I still have emotions and days like Norfolk that completely overwhelm me, I am predominantly happy.

What I can say is that nothing, absolutely nothing I have been through would have been made better with alcohol.

If you are looking to quit or start your journey to a happier life, have a read of my posts How to quit drinking or any of my posts highlighted above, also found here.

If you prefer to read books, a few that may help you are

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