I absolutely love being a mom for many reasons. Spending time with my kids keeps me young at heart, teaches me new things daily and gives me a sense of purpose and fulfillment in life.
One bonus to motherhood I never expected was quitting drinking. Although it wasn’t a planned decision, it benefitted my health significantly. Here’s how having a baby made me realize I don’t even like alcohol.
1. I Can Still Enjoy a Drink
Did you know that you might not even be as drunk as you feel at social events? Research published in the International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction reveals that the placebo effect of alcohol increases in social settings — you expect to act a little giddy, so you do.
That’s not to say you can’t get drunk enough to suffer severe health and legal consequences. Non-alcoholic mixers like juice and soda can disguise the flavor of alcohol, and relatively few home mixologists measure their pours. You could end up over the limit and getting a DUI or worse before you know it.
Who says you have to add the hard stuff at all? Think back to the first time you stole a sip of a “grownup” beer or jigger of whiskey. Chances are, you wrinkled your nose in disgust, maybe even spit it out. Truth be told, alcohol tastes a bit like the toxin it is.
I still enjoy all my favorite “umbrella cocktails” when I barbecue or attend a friend’s party. I merely omit the ingredient most likely to get me in trouble with the law or land me in the hospital with cirrhosis.
2. I’m More Prepared for Any Emergency
When you have a baby, there’s no end to the things that can go wrong. Even if you do a bang-up job of baby-proofing your home, you can’t prevent every stray button from falling off a visitor’s shirt and choking a curious little one. When seconds count, I want the option of driving my child to emergency care, not waiting for paramedics.
I also need to make multiple snap judgments throughout the day. Is it a wise idea to let my youngest walk to the park with her older sister by herself? I might not make the same decision after a glass of wine or two — I want a clear head when deciding what’s best for my child.
Furthermore, I want my wits about me for less drastic yet nevertheless vital childhood moments. When my little ones get bigger, I don’t want to miss out on their soccer games because I’m too busy at happy hour.
3. I Curb My Mom-Anxiety
You might be one of the many people who turn to alcohol to relax. However, doing so could backfire on you big-time. It could even result in a substance-use disorder.
Try this experiment — pay mindful attention the next “morning after” and throughout the day. Do you notice yourself feeling especially tense and edgy? If so, you aren’t alone. Decreasing my anxiety levels is one reason I decided to forego the sauce for good.
The problem lies with the way alcohol affects levels of neurotransmitters like dopamine, GABA and glutamate. All of these substances unite to impact your mood and sensitivity levels. When they rebound to normal the next day, you could end up feeling even more anxious than you did before you took the first drink.
The solution, for many, is to reach for another drink to unwind. The problem with this approach is that you develop tolerance, meaning you need more alcohol to produce the sedating effects. Before you know it, you’re on the road to addiction.
4. I Find Healthier Ways to Relax
All things considered, having a drink is a pretty lousy way to unwind. The effects are fleeting — the only way to extend them is to imbibe more, which leads to adverse health effects. It can also get you in trouble with the law and destroy your relationships as your behavior becomes erratic.
Conversely, many healthier ways to unwind might require a bit of effort at first but pay off in lasting benefits. If my anxiety begins to spiral out of control, a yoga class can help calm me and activate my parasympathetic nervous system without giving me a hangover. I maintain the peaceful mental state I experience after class much longer than the sedating effects of a glass of merlot.
If something weighs on my mind, I seek out someone whom I trust to process my feelings and find a meaningful solution. I don’t always find easy answers — but it’s a far more effective strategy than postponing dealing with the issue while giving myself a wine headache to add to my woes.
Having a Baby Made Me Realize I Don’t Even Like Alcohol
I’m grateful to my children for many things. I never expected realizing I didn’t even like alcohol would be one of the perks, but it’s another decided benefit of having a baby.