When I tell people that I don’t drink, and that I have never had a taste (or sip, or drop!) of alcohol in my entire life, it’s usually followed by a “you’re kidding, RIGHT?!” or “How do you survive?”
I grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah. I was raised Mormon, or a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. We are taught from a very young age to abstain from alcohol and drugs, coffee, smoking, etc. It’s something that I had to make choice about as a young girl, and something that I have had to recommit to at each stage of my life. For many, it’s not an easy choice to make, but for me it has always been an easy decision, and that I am grateful for. However, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing, especially in the adult scene and world of motherhood. I have found myself in many situations where I don’t feel like I fit in, and that I didn’t have anything in common with these other moms, even though we were alike in so many ways.
After I became pregnant with my first child, I longed for new mom friends who could walk through pregnancy and the newborn stages with me. I had just moved from Utah, from my family and friends who shared the same values as me and everything else that was comfortable. I was already feeling isolated, as sometimes a new mother does, with a tiny human with so much depending on you. My husband was working long hours, and I yearned for adult interaction. I remember meeting a mom at the park who had a little boy around the same age as mine. We had struck up a conversation and my new friend had suggested we get together again, for a playdate and a few beers at her place. Things were immediately awkward when I told her I would love to hang out, but that I didn’t drink. We never did exchange numbers and I left feeling sad and out of place.
We have moved 4 times since we got married 10 years ago. Each time I have the same anxiety about making mom friends.
When is it going to come up?
Is someone going to pour me a drink and I am going to refuse it?
Will they judge me?
Will they think I am rude for saying no?
Will they think I am weird and not want to be my friend?
How do I avoid the inevitable conversation?
I don’t mind when people drink around me. But, I have noticed over the years at several work parties when talking to the other people and moms who are drinking, my presence seems to make some of them uncomfortable. It can feel like you’re a parent breaking up a high-school party. Other times, you get the sense that they pity you or can’t quite figure out what to talk about. I try to avoid the awkwardness with people like that by saying how much I’m enjoying my Diet Coke if it comes up (because I REALLY have a soft spot for Diet Coke!).
Being a mom of 3 crazy boys under the age of seven is of course no easy task. I have had several mom friends on many occasions ask me “How have you NOT started drinking? You have THREE boys?!” As if I can’t be a mom and a sober person at the same time. Surely there are ways to unwind after the kids go to bed besides drinking away your exhaustion, right? And there are. We all find different ways to deal with our happiness and our stresses.
I don’t judge anyone for their decisions. I am proud of who I am and the decisions I have made. I love being a mom and I don’t find it hard to unwind at night on my own. As I have gotten older I am finding it easier to make and keep mom friends, some who don’t drink, and of course some who do! I have learned to have a more open mind, and to recognize that everyone makes the best decisions for their own lives. But there’s one thing we all do have in common, and it’s that we are moms, and we are all more alike than we think.