I’ve been traveling a lot and dealing with a lot of intense family stuff this year (on top of the usual intense work stuff). I just got home from a trip that was so stressful I got chest pains the one day I didn’t work out. We all have ways of coping with stress, and my body was very clearly telling me that working out is essential for me at this time in my life. 

I am not an emotional eater. I am not into marijuana, legal or otherwise. But working out and drinking wine are my go-to self-medicines. As I’ve done more of the former over the last two years, I’ve done less of the latter. I didn’t drink at all for eight months of last year, just to reset things after way too much wine was consumed during the emotional rollercoaster of 2016 and 2017, the election, the #MeToo movement, and so much more. But I still frequently have a glass of wine in my hand at meals and get-togethers still because, well, “Why not?” I think. 

Reading this in the Washington Post yesterday about how sober curious is supplanting the mom/wine meme resonated with me, and I was curious about your thoughts as well. 

As the Post describes, the fact that it’s a “trend” has given moms permission to use health and wellness as a hip reason not to succumb to peer pressure of drinking in other mom communities. (It’s similar to the trend of Millennials drinking less, and the booze industry is freaking as a result…)

“Sober curious” is an obnoxious phrase for a few reasons; perhaps a better one is “mindful drinking.” I’ve been mindfully eating over the last eight months and it’s made a huge difference in my health. For instance, I never eat fries or chips anymore, because I’ve realized I don’t really want them, I just eat them if they are in front of me. I stop eating when I’m full. I don’t let someone talk me into a bite of a dessert if I don’t want it. On the other hand, there are things I absolutely do want that are worth the splurge—like really good bread with soup. Those I still eat, so it all feels sustainable and not like I’m being deprived. 

I think I could apply this to drinking and still enjoy wine when I really do want it, while cutting out a lot of the drinking on social autopilot in my life. I tried this yesterday. I skipped rosé in the park or a mimosa with brunch, but I had a glass of wine cooking dinner. I just thought about whether I really wanted it, or it was just a habit and something I thought I wanted like the fries. 

I’ve lost 20+ pounds being more mindful in eating in the last year, I’m eating a 75% plant-based diet (something I never saw coming!), and I feel way healthier. What could mindful drinking unlock without feeling deprived and while feeling sustainable? 

I’m lucky my partner doesn’t drink, so if I don’t bring it into the house no one will. I’m curious if anyone has explored this, wants to or has any tips, or has seen it impact their own mom communities, so I’ve asked it as one of our main questions of the day.

Two quick caveats though: I don’t want to get into shaming here, because there’s enough mom shaming. I am absolutely in on the joke about how hard motherhood is and how we need to cut ourselves slack and let our hair down in moderation. I absolutely think a lot of the mom/wine meme is a reaction to Pinterest perfection ideal of motherhood which helps no one. I have rolled up to several after school park days in walking distance to my house with a can of rosé. I don’t judge anyone for doing so.

…And yet, the wine/mom meme as captured in T-shirts and doormats and hats has also always felt unsettling to me as the partner of an alcoholic who has been sober for 10 years. I do think a lot of the mom/wine meme masks some very deep pain and isolation moms and women feel that should be addressed with something other than rose all day. 

It’s a world of difference between having a glass of wine in a stressful situation and regularly binge-drinking, and none of us know anyone’s truth. The last thing I want to open up another front in the mom wars: sober vs. wine drinker, cloth vs. disposable, natural vs. epidural. 

Second caveat: As mentioned above, the phrase “sober curious” is triggering for a lot of folks. Paul and I talked about this for about an hour yesterday. Like a lot of people he is angered by the “sober curious” moniker and the idea that something that is life and death for many people is seen as a fad of the month. 

I think a lot of it is the phrase “sober curious.” He didn’t, for instance, have the same objection to “Dry January.” So apologies if using the phrase or this topic is triggered to other alcoholics…I know very close secondhand that it’s not something flippant. 

But I don’t think the whole idea should be rejected because it has a bad name. It’s a hard thing to talk about because it is steeped with shame and judgement. So I’m hoping like so many other topics on Chairman Mom, we can get into the things we frequently can’t get into elsewhere in an honest and respectful way.

Today’s new questions on Chairman Mom:

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