Maria Riley challenges the cultural idea that moms need to drink to survive the demands of parenthood.
You don’t have to look far to find the same message being broadcasted to us over and over again: Moms need to drink to survive the demands of parenthood. From wine glasses emblazoned with “Mommy’s Sippy Cup” to memes that read “The most expensive thing about kids is all the wine you have to drink,” we are told countless times every day that having a glass of wine is not only acceptable, it is essential for survival.
It is likewise not difficult to find alcohol. More and more, events and occasions are being inextricably linked with alcohol. Mimosas at playdates, wine tastings at the moms night out, and even parish events often serve beer and wine. But is numbing our senses with alcohol actually what God wants for us?
Alcohol, like so many worldly things, is not bad in and of itself. Jesus’ first public miracle was turning water into wine, after all! I previously used this quippy excuse to justify my excessive drinking for many years. How could wine be bad when Jesus produced the best quality wine for celebrating wedding guests to keep the party going?
An occasional drink can be a fun way to relax and celebrate. A glass of champagne at a wedding comes to mind, or when you and your husband (finally!) get a babysitter and have a night out. For some of us, though, the occasional drinking long ago morphed into a daily ritual, one that we have become dependent on. The line is blurry, and while we cannot pinpoint the exact moment, somewhere along the way we have fallen into an addictive habit of turning to alcohol during our times of stress and struggle rather than turning to God.
I have witnessed and personally experienced a reliance on booze instead of God, and the result was that since I was keeping God at arm’s length, I was perpetually denied the joy and true peace that can only consume me when I give myself entirely to God. By choosing to turn to that glass of wine instead of letting God step in during my times of stress, I had become trapped in a cycle of addiction.
When I was at the height of my drinking I was a stay-at-home mom with four young daughters and a husband who traveled regularly for work. I looked forward to my evening drinks and made so many excuses for them. I told myself that it was a “treat” that I had earned for surviving another day with four kids age four and under. I told myself I was a good mom who deserved to relax at the end of the day.
What was more, I told myself that everyone else was doing it, so of course it was OK. I fell into the trappings of comparing myself to the other sinners on earth with me, rather than striving to live up to God’s standard. The truth was, these justifications were easy to espouse because I found other drinking moms everywhere I looked.
It wasn’t until I removed alcohol completely from my life that I realized the wall I had built between God and me. Alcohol was the right hand that caused me to sin, so I had to cut it off. It was not easy, especially in the beginning, to abstain completely. Everyone in my life told me that I didn’t have a problem with alcohol, my husband included—because I did not behave like what we think of when we hear the word alcoholic. I didn’t drink and drive, I was never violent or excessive, and I continued to keep up with the demands of motherhood. But I knew in my heart that my drinking was a problem, and I finally surrendered it to God.
The Lord graciously heard my cry and gave me the strength to remove alcohol from my life. Since then, my personal relationship with God has grown and developed in ways that I did not previously know were possible. By turning my habit of dependence on wine to dependence on God I have significantly reduced my stress and my proclivity to yelling at my children (though that’s not completely gone). My blood pressure has come down, I sleep better, and my marriage has improved. This is all the result of my actively seeking God, which was enabled once I removed the alcohol that was walling me off from Him.
You do not have to be an alcoholic to benefit from abstaining from alcohol in your life. We get to choose to follow God’s will or the world’s will. When the world tells you that you need booze to survive, I challenge you to listen to the small voice in your heart that knows the truth. The next time you think, “I need a drink,” pause for a second and remember: what you really need is God.
Copyright 2022 Maria Riley
About the Author
Maria Riley is a passionate Catholic writer and editor who loves volunteering when she’s not writing or mom-ing. Maria is the author of a new Catholic children’s chapter book series: Adventures with the Saints (releasing Fall 2022). Visit her at MariaRileyAuthor.com or on social media @mariarileyauthor.