Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Things a Teetotal Mum Will Recognise

Just lemonade for me, ta
For all my talk about being this hippyish alternative mum, I generally blend in fairly easily with other mums. After all, we're all in the same boat and need to help each other out. But there is one area where I still feel like the odd one out. Drinking.

I don't drink.

To me it's not a big deal. I've never been massively into alcohol. I experimented with it a bit in uni but never got properly drunk. And as I got older I just, well, grew out of it. I was mostly teetotal when trying for my first baby then stopped altogether for pregnancy and ... never really started again. I think I could count the drinks I've had in the last six years on one hand.

People have always been a bit surprised and baffled by my lack of interest in alcohol, but I'm more aware of it now I'm a mum. It's hard to pinpoint why, but there are a few things I've noticed - things that I'm sure other teetotal/occasional drinking mums will relate to!

The Questions

So, I go on a night out (pahaha, yeah, when my kids will let me which is once a year at best) and I'll get a lemonade or something. And there'll often be a conversation like this.

"Oh, not drinking tonight?"
"No, I don't drink."
"Oh! Why's that?"

I'm still slightly flummoxed by this question. I mean, if we were out for a meal and everyone else was eating steak but I ordered the vegetarian, it's unlikely I'd be asked why I don't eat meat. People just seem to accept that I don't, and carry on as normal. But not drinking will often raise a question.

It's not that I mind the question, I just don't know how to answer it. There's no one reason why I don't drink. There are lots of little reasons, the main one being that I just don't like it. But if I answer with that, people are really confused. So I often say something vaguely related to health issues, because I've learnt that's more acceptable than just thinking alcohol tastes nasty!

Gin O'Clock

Social media is great, isn't it? When I've had a rough day with the kids, or when bedtime has been going on for three hours and I'm about to scream, I will often take to Twitter for a moan, where I am met with solidarity and gifs. And occasionally the suggestion of gin.

It seems that after 6pm, the answer to a mum's problems is in the bottom of a glass. I'm sure it's in jest - at least I hope so, you don't really all drink that much, do you??! But I never know how to respond. Do I pretend to agree? Do I say I don't drink and risk The Questions (see above)? Do I just click 'like' and hope that's a friendly enough way of dodging the conversation?

The Alternative Vice

Of course, I'm no angel. When situations like the one above arise, I don't get through them by deep breathing and mindful housework, or whatever a clean-living alpha mum would do. So how do I cope when the kids are driving me up the wall and I don't want to hit the bottle?

Chocolate. That's how. Lots and lots of chocolate. In various forms - bars, biscuits, cakes. I live on the stuff. And the advantage is you can eat it All Day Long. And, believe me, I do. If it weren't for breastfeeding and babywearing I'd be the size of a house by now. In fact I don't quite know how I'll cope when I'm no longer able to consume my own body weight in chocolate on a daily basis. But that's a problem for another day!

The Second Guessing

I think more difficult to deal with than people's reactions is wondering what the reaction will be. Or what people will think of me. Will they be shocked? Aghast? Suspicious? Will they think I'm judging them? Will they worry that I'm going to remember the daft things they do or say under the influence and hold it over them? Will they think I'm odd, boring, sanctimonious?

The truth is, I'm not judging. Some people drink, some don't. It doesn't bother me. I'm not teetotal through some high-minded moral choice. I'm not making a point. I just don't like the stuff. I can still go out and have a laugh with other mums, kids and energy permitting. And as for what happens on the night out, that stays on the night out. I've got enough to try and remember in my sleep-deprived state without filing away your tipsy antics to tease you with another day.

If you're a fellow non-drinking mum, can you relate to these? And if you're not, go on - what do you really think of the mum in the corner nursing an orange juice?!


  1. I had four children over ten years so that is a lot of time spent not drinking because we were either trying for a baby, pregnant or nursing and I just fell completely out of the habit. I was never a big drinker anyway but I have sort of ended up teetotal by accident really. Like you it wasn't some big moral decision, I'd just rather have a cup of tea! Ha! I don't need a drink to have a good time which I find baffles people. I also struggle with the judging thing too - I couldn't give a hoot if you're cracking out the gin at six every night! But I think people wrongly take my not drinking as a judgement of them drinking too much. It so isn't. It is just my choice. It seems to bother other people much more than it bothers me?!

    1. That last line - yes!! It's almost as if people are worried for me! I'm fine honestly, I don't feel like I'm missing out at all!!

  2. I've never been drunk in my life. The most I've drank is half a glass of wine. I've grown up with a distorted view of alcohol though because my father was an alcoholic so booze scared me rather than appealed to me. I do like the taste of most things I've tried but over the past 10years I've consumed alcohol maybe 5 times and that counts sips. People have always tried to get me into drinking but it still just scares me if I'm honest. I wish I could lose the distorted view I have because it'd be nice to be able to sit down and have a glass of something with my other half and I feel like it is my experience via my father that stops me rather than me not wanting to. I certainly couldn't give a damn if someone drinks or not though. I wouldn't judge someone either way. X

    1. That must have been really hard, and totally understandable that it would put you off alcohol. The people trying to get you into it should really respect your reasons though, it's funny for me when people do that but I can imagine it must feel very uncomfortable for you.

  3. I drink and am often guilty of referring to wine o'clock. But. I actually don't think it's a very healthy way to respond. It is seen as socially acceptable to want to drink the tantrums away but the reality is you still have to get up and do it all again but this time feeling groggy and not at your best. So I am a bit of a hypocrite really. That said, I think it's very rude for people to ask WHY you don't drink! You could be a raging alkie in recovery or have a serious health problem. It defo shouldn't be a stigma to not drink. I hope this post is an eye opener to a few of us who too often use the wine o'clock thing. Please never feel embarrassed about it.

    1. Thanks for your comment - and your honesty! Yes I can't imagine dealing with a toddler whilst recovering from a hangover is much fun!!

  4. I'm teetotal and I'm never even really tempted to have a drink. All my friends are fine with it but i do go through the usual rigmarole sign new people and they all look slightly surprised but then most carry on as normal. Some will go on a bit ...but then they're usually the ones that would go on about anything ;)

    1. That's good that you haven't had to deal with too much badgering about it. For the most part people do let it go once I've given a reason, but like you say, others will keep trying to persuade me!!

  5. This is me!! I rarely drink but people really struggle to understand why!! It's just my choice 😁

    1. That's just it, to me it's like saying 'oh I don't like cola' but to some it's a big lifestyle choice!!