The trouble with alcohol

It’s taken as read (red?) that wine and motherhood go hand-in-hand these days but is there another way? Local Mum Renee Davis goes deep into her tricky relationship with booze


After seven years of pregnancy and parenting, I decided that this would to be the year I got my social life back on track, and it's been amazing. I think I've seen my friends (without the kids in tow) more in 2016 than I did in 2009-2015 put together.

The trouble is, that with socialising comes drinking alcohol. My ultimate nemesis!

I'm not an alcoholic, but I'm not afraid to admit that I recognise alcoholic traits in myself.

When I hit rock bottom after my second mental breakdown in 2006, I knew that it was time to sort my life out, and top of my priority list was getting my alcohol consumption under control. I started binge drinking at the age of twelve. My first experience was neat rum, which led to me passing out in a park. This pretty much sums up my relationship with the bottle back then. I was always pushing the boundaries, and never knew when enough was enough.

Keeping up with the boys
In my late teens and early twenties I prided myself on being able to keep up with the boys. I'd be the only girl standing (more like wobbling) come seven, eight in the morning when the hardcore were still awake putting the world to rights. I'd be the one walking to the dodgy off licence in the middle of the night for more supplies.

I have plenty of funny anecdotes from those days, but I also have horror stories. One involved a taxi driver, and ended up with me running down a dual carriageway in the early hours of the morning. I put myself in serious danger on numerous occasions, and I genuinely look back and wonder how on earth I'm still alive.

It's incredible how much of a hold the booze had over me back then, which isn't hugely surprising given my alcoholic step-father. 

Going teetotal for ever is a big deal though. Apart from not wanting to be 'that' person, who everyone starts avoiding because they can't be around booze, I think it's a huge statement to make at such a young age. I'm also inclined to believe that it can lead to 'falling off the wagon' in spectacular fashion, which then leads to a whole host of other problems.

I find abstinence easy. Having a few and calling it a night has always been my problem.

Bottom of the barrel
After rock bottom, I didn't have a single drink for three months, after that I learnt control. I taught myself how to enjoy a drink or two, and not feel the need to get obliterated. It was a complete revelation, before then I would only ever drink to get drunk.

Two years and a whole load of self-reflection later, I found myself pregnant with Polly. It was a shock after being categorically told that I was infertile, but that's another story. I was a saint during those nine months. I didn't even drink caffeine let alone alcohol (apart from a glass of champagne on my wedding day). 

By the time Clara was born - when Polly was two and a half - her sleep problems were in full swing. Life was super stressful and I turned to the bottle for solace too many times. When C was a year old we went out for a big group lunch with my husband's uni friends. I got plastered, the way I used to get plastered. It wasn't my finest hour.

I was a complete embarrassment. To him, to myself, to our children.

So I took a few months break from the booze, once again, and it helped me learn to control it, once again. Shortly after this I fell pregnant with Freddy, and when he was eight weeks old I embarked on the GAPS Intro diet, and didn't touch a drop of alcohol for almost six months.

I have never felt as good as I did when I was on GAPS. I had an abundance of energy, and clarity of mind, despite only getting three or four broken hours sleep per night. I truly believe that GAPS was how I managed to write my first book Become the Best You. In it I talk about all the things I did to change my life, and become the version of myself I once dreamed of being.

It's time to take my own advice

I've had a lot of fun getting my social life on track this year, but I've been absolutely useless at knowing when to stop.

"...but you deserve a night out!"

" have such a stressful life, and need to let your hair down!"

"...everyone has a few drinks as a treat, it's fine!"

I can try and justify my behaviour all I like, but I know it's unfair on the people who love me the most. Ultimately, I know that it's totally out of order on my husband. Who, in his own words, carries emotional scars from the early days of our relationship. Unsurprisingly.

Best of my abilities
Going out also means that I'm not parenting to the best of my abilities for a day or two afterwards. Sometimes I suffer from anxiety or depression following a big night. It's simply not okay to put myself in that position when I have children to look after, one of whom I'm home educating. I don't aim for perfection, but being a lukewarm mama isn't good for any of us. 

Yes, my life is hard and stressful, and I need a release every now and then, but I know deep down that my life is made worse by getting hammered. The consequences last much longer than the fun. 

Plus, it's beyond ironic that someone who eats as healthily as I do, can tune out to the health pitfalls of drinking to excess. We've heard lots about the health benefits we can gain from having a couple of glasses of red wine, but no amount of antioxidants can counteract the after effect of drinking two bottles of the stuff. I view junk food as pollution, and this is no different. 

It's not good for my body, mind or soul. So here's where it stops!

I'm not feeling ashamed of myself, the way I have in the past. Yes I partied in Ibiza, yes I've had some raucous nights with besties, and yes I had to stay in my friend's hotel room on Friday night, but I don't regret any of it.

I guess I have learnt a lot from my life lessons. 

I'm not saying that I'm giving up alcohol altogether, because I still don't think that's the solution for me. Perhaps I'm wrong, only time will tell. I definitely need another break though, so I can try and get back to a place where I can have a few sociable drinks and quit while I'm ahead.

Wish me luck ❤

Follow Renee’s cookery blog for Local Mums Online Renee’s Recipes

Follow Reneé Davis’ brilliant blog about Motherhood without the sugar coating Mummy Tries 

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