When a Nice Glass of Wine Simply Isn’t an Option


Few things have driven me to long for “a nice, relaxing glass of wine” more than having a toddler. Meltdowns because I’d like my 19-month-old to put his pajamas in the hamper (because lessons in responsibility, y’all) or refrain from playing in broken glass because he wanted graham crackers right now, and I stupidly stored them in a glass container within his reach.

But the reality is that I can’t. I mean, I could. But I haven’t had a drink in 14 years, so why mess with the (mostly) good thing that is my life? This makes it doubly difficult when so much of the “mom culture” today is rooted in snarky memes and boozy jokes lending themselves to the bizarre sentiment that a nice glass of wine or five will make being a mother — a job we are (hashtag) blessed to have — that much more bearable.

For me, it’s all the coffee, but I digress.

Yes, I wholeheartedly get it (see first paragraph). But I’d be lying if I said that oversaturation didn’t sometimes exacerbate those moments where I deeply question the decision I made on October 2, 2004, at the ripe, young age of 23.

I was living just outside New York City, where I spent my days working for a teen magazine and my weekends getting blackout drunk at dive bars and fancypants night clubs where I most certainly felt like a far-less-cool imposter, leading to even more rum-and-Diet-Cokes to quell the sh*t talker that is my brain. There are few things more terrifying than waking up in a strange apartment with no clue how you got there, or worse, what you did the night before and with whom. Or passing out on the subway ride home only to wind up in some unfamiliar place deep in Brooklyn at 4 a.m. when all you want is a slice of pizza and your warm bed. What started at the age of 16 after the loss of my mother progressed through my college years (sorority included), and no matter how hard I tried to be “normal” or escape myself, my genetic makeup — two alcoholic parents and an addictive grandparent — was working against me. So I woke up one morning in my own piss (a first) and shame (a regular occurrence), sick and tired of being sick and tired, and white-knuckled my way through a few of those meetings, maybe a sponsor or two, and buckets of coffee until not drinking became my norm, and drinking became a distant memory. Because I never wanted to feel that stomach-sickening shame and remorse ever again.

Fast-forward to today, and while my brain is still the king of anxiety and negative self-talk (constant work in progress — how you doin’, Zoloft?), I am at least in control of my actions and behaviors. If I make a mistake (a regular occurrence), I can do my best to own it and make it right.

My husband has never seen me take a drink, and my son has never seen me take a drink. Having only been in Jacksonville a couple of years, my mom friends here most certainly have never seen me take a drink. Many may not even realize that this is my “thing” — my own personal not-really-a-secret-but-kind-of-a-secret scarlet letter. The thing that makes me feel different, self-conscious, and sometimes weird, especially at those moms’ night out events where the booze flows like breast milk from a lucky overproducer. I’ve since perfected the art of waving away the offering of a drink in exchange for my Coke Zero, and when the well-meaning “Are you sure?” questions persist, my usual speech comes pouring out like word vomit: “Yes! Thank you. I used to drink, but I don’t anymore because I blacked out and made bad decisions. It wasn’t good. And alcoholism runs in my family, but I’m happy to be your designated driver any time…” By then, I’ve made them uncomfortable, because I’m uncomfortable. I’m uncomfortable because I don’t want them to feel judged for enjoying their wine (please, have a big ol’ glass for me!), because I don’t want to come off like a holier-than-thou prude who can’t have fun (I’ve danced on tabletops sober, thankyouverymuch), and because I have an unhealthy fear of what you might think — even though what you think of me is really none of my business.

So yes, while I do sometimes go back to that day in early October and wonder if my blackouts were merely a phase — maybe I could (just once!) enjoy that glass of wine you so kindly offered — the risks simply aren’t worth the reward. Because for me, I know one glass of wine (or two or three) most certainly won’t be enough, and I would never want to lose this sweet, sweet life I’ve built on sober ground.


16 Responses to When a Nice Glass of Wine Simply Isn’t an Option

  1. Katie Jones Sep 24, 2018 at 9:02 am #

    Tina you are amazing. Incredibly brave post and I respect and admire you EVEN MORE that before, if that is even possible. XO

    • Tina Smithers Peckham Sep 25, 2018 at 11:10 am #

      KATIE! Thank you!! I adore you and your raw, real posts, as well! xoxo

  2. Kerry Gray Sep 24, 2018 at 10:29 am #

    Booze flows like breast milk from a lucky overproducer!! Hahahahaha!! You are amazing. I was so excited when a new mom friend invited me out for gelato.

    • Tina Smithers Peckham Sep 25, 2018 at 11:10 am #

      YES gelato! Love it, Kerry. Hope all is well!! <3

  3. Kayla Sep 24, 2018 at 10:26 pm #

    My sweet beautiful sister, I love you so much! I’m so proud to call you my sister!

    • Tina Smithers Peckham Sep 25, 2018 at 11:11 am #

      Love YOU, sister! Thank you. So, so much.

  4. Wally Young Sep 25, 2018 at 11:03 pm #

    Love this and love you, Tina! I just finished my first year of not drinking and you are one of my inspirations!! 💗💗💗

    • Tina Smithers Peckham Oct 11, 2018 at 11:22 am #

      Awww, yay, you’re such a rockstar, Wally!! In more ways than one. <3 <3

  5. CM Sep 29, 2018 at 7:26 pm #

    Good for you. 👏🏼 Keep up the hard work of parenting and sobriety.

    • Tina Smithers Peckham Oct 11, 2018 at 11:25 am #

      Thank you!! <3

  6. Kelsey Sep 29, 2018 at 8:05 pm #

    Try following @mimommymocktails on IG! Lots of non- alcoholic drink recipes!

    • Tina Smithers Peckham Oct 11, 2018 at 11:26 am #

      Cool, thanks for the tip!

  7. Allyson Oct 10, 2018 at 10:17 am #

    I’m not a mom and I don’t live in Jax but I still related to your story so much! I’m 22 months sober this week and I also have those moments where I think “could I just drink normally now, if I tried again?” I agree with you though that the risk doesn’t seem to outweigh the reward. Now if we could only find a cool, laid back way to turn down drinks! 🙂

    • Tina Smithers Peckham Oct 11, 2018 at 11:25 am #

      Ah! 22 months is huge, congrats! I’m so glad you could relate. (And I know, right??) xoxo

  8. EMM Oct 22, 2018 at 10:52 pm #

    What if your response to “Are you sure?” was simply “Yep, I’ve been sober for for 14 years – it’s all good!” Or, you don’t have to bring up your sobriety at all. I often don’t drink by choice and say “No thanks, I’ll stick with water (or xyz drink) tonight” and people generally move on. If not, I reiterate positively that “XYZ drink would be great, thanks!” and redirect the conversation to a question about them. “So how do you know so-and-so?” or “How’s work going?” or “How is everything going for Ella at preschool…?” etc. etc.

    Less, stated confidently, is more.

  9. Jenny M. Dec 30, 2018 at 10:36 am #

    I know there are a ton of other moms out there that have the same feelings. I hope if they are struggling with those same feelings that they see “it’s OK not to drink”. There is a good book out there as well called “A Happier Hour” by Rebecca Weller. She’s not a mom in the factual book but she is professional and struggles with the same feelings over overindulgence and regrets. It’s a quick easy read worth the time. Drinking is very socially acceptable to the point of just being expected. It does not have to be that way. Feeling physically and mentally in control can give a huge sense of accomplishment. It’s hard sometimes saying “no” and feeling like you are missing out but I assure you when you wake up without feeling sluggish or embarrassed by something you said or did, there is a huge sense of pride that follows. “You got this” for any moms out there facing this as the New Year approaches and thank you, Tina, for sharing your story.

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