Let’s Compare Notes { + I’ve got something to share}

“Comparison is the thief of joy”, that quote from Theodore Roosevelt had been my jam for years as a mother, and rightly so. As moms, we tend to look at other moms and compare our worst selves to their best selves. The selves that send out perfect (looking) holiday cards and the selves that put those perfect (looking) photos on social media. We use these comparisons as a way to beat ourselves up: that mom has such a clean house/great body/well behaved children. That mom has it together and I do not.

The thing is, sometimes, comparison is a good thing. Let me tell you why.

Isolation can be a big issue with motherhood. One that can sneak up on you. You feel isolated from other moms because maybe you feel like you aren’t doing as good of a job, you feel like a failure, and you feel like the only one that feels that way. So you don’t talk about it. And it can start this cycle of negative comparison that is like a nasty little hamster wheel you can’t get off of. You notice only where other moms are better than you, you only see your shortcomings.

The thing is, when you realize that we all have these shortcomings (even the perfect Instagram moms) you feel SO MUCH BETTER about your own shortcomings. Your “big things” can become manageable in comparison with everyone else’s “big things”, and sometimes you realize that your big things are actually really teeny tiny things that don’t matter as much as you thought they did (or should).

Sometimes you realize you are not the only one who is struggling. The only one who is going through a tough patch in their relationship, who is having trouble making ends meet, who is having health issues, who is having depression or anxiety issues, or addiction issues, or is dealing with behavioral issues or home life issues that they don’t know how to tackle.

Sometimes that brand new perspective blows your mind and helps you shift your thinking. It helps you get through your own tough times.

The thing is, we still don’t talk about the tough times. Sometimes we don’t have the words, or we are scared of sharing, because we don’t know how people will judge. Sometimes even with our close friends we still can’t let go of an image we have created because it is that very image that is helping you hold it together. So we don’t share.

But, I’m gonna share today. Cause I’ve done something new and I want to reach out to you guys. What did I do? I stopped drinking. Now, I have to tell you, I’m not an alcoholic, but, I also really loved my wine. (and I have the collection of cute quippy wine glasses to prove it). And I thought that drinking used to help me be a better, more relaxed parent. At the end of the day, with my “mommy’s sippy cup” of Sauvignon Blanc, it was a little habit that never really got out of control but was a habit nonetheless. Even keeping drinking in check while breastfeeding, it was a thing. Mommy needed her glass of wine. And I really didn’t like needing anything (okay I still drink coffee let’s not get crazy here).

For years, drinking and being a mom was like a funny open secret. Oh my kids are making me crazy I NEED A GLASS OF WINE. I have been to many daytime playdates and kids birthday parties where wine is offered. Drinking wine and mommyhood is so entwined and so socially acceptable right now it can be easy to go from having a glass of wine at the kids bedtime to drinking a whole bottle while watching the Bachelor. There are websites and facebook pages with funny names like “Mommy Needs a Glass of Wine” and an actual wine called “Mommy’s Time Out”. Put “Mommy Needs” into a facebook search and see what comes up…

The thing is, I wasn’t even really enjoying drinking anymore. Even just a glass or two of wine made me feel tipsy (my tolerance went down after each pregnancy, oh the irony…) and then also gave me a hangover, that’s right, TWO (normal sized) glasses of wine gave me a hangover. Not cool. But giving up drinking altogether seemed like a crazy idea. Surely I would never just stop drinking, right?! That’s crazy talk! Even though I had abstained during my pregnancies (and let’s face it with five pregnancies that’s a lot of abstaining) I had really never “taken a break” from drinking since I was legal. Not that I drank every day, but I had never taken a purposeful break from drinking alcohol. Not once. So I did.

And…I love it.

Mostly, I love not being hungover ever because being hungover around small children IS THE WORST. The worst. OMG. But also I love that I don’t actually need that glass of wine to get through my tougher parenting days like I thought I did. Being clearer headed and not reliant on anything outside myself to chill out has actually been the thing to make me a better parent. Taking the step back made me realize I had created this parenting crutch I don’t need. That I can help prop myself up with healthier ways. Also coming from someone who has breast cancer in their family and is quickly approaching 40, I took notice of the fact that compared to women who don’t drink at all, women who have three alcoholic drinks per week have a 15% higher risk of breast cancer. Just three alcoholic drinks PER WEEK. I was usually having more than that on most weeks. So, I’m done now. And that’s that.

The thing is, I haven’t really told anyone besides some close friends and family about it, because I don’t want people to judge me. I don’t want people to assume I don’t drink because I had a major drinking problem. I don’t want people to judge me because I can’t handle drinking (because I just can’t anymore). I also don’t want people to think I now judge them because I don’t drink anymore (I don’t, obviously). I also AM NOT PREGNANT AGAIN. So let’s make that clear (always, always the #1 question people would ask me if I ever didn’t drink, and I have to admit it was usually true, but not this time I swear!).

But, I wanted to share with you guys, because I want you to know that we all have our things. We all have things we hide, we all have things we are struggling with. And I want you to share, here, anonymously. What are you struggling with? What do you hide? These things range from the not so important: i.e I gave my kids Froot Loops for dinner, to the serious: Going through a divorce, being in an abusive relationship, dealing with addiction, having a spouse or child that is dealing with addiction. The struggles are endless, and they are real.

ALL comments on this post are anonymous. No names or emails or anything is needed to post here, and your comments will only be shared here. So if you feel like sharing, please do. Much love mamas xoxo

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7 Responses to Let’s Compare Notes { + I’ve got something to share}

  1. Anonymous Commenter 1 says:

    Thank you for sharing! I recently stopped drinking as well after doing the Whole30. And when you have kids and don’t get consistent sleep anyway, I didn’t want to be doing anything that would make me MORE tired or grumpy, or make me a more cranky Mom when the kids are up in the middle of the night. I find it liberating but my husband still says “you sure you don’t want want a glass of wine??” and I’m sure some people think I’m pregnant again. But I’m just enjoying the clarity and mood stability and health benefits. But you’re right, people don’t talk about the hard times enough. Thank you for everything you put out there!

  2. Anonymous Commenter 2 says:

    I really admire the way you are tackling the hard stuff! So good. And also I agree the societal assumption that motherhood=”needing” wine is not a good one. Love to you Jenny!

  3. Anonymous Commenter 3 says:

    Such an inspiring post!

    A bit different topic here but none the less something I am struggling with.

    My oldest is 2.5 and hasn’t said a word yet (minus dada, baba, all done) I constantly see theses “Instagram” moms with their perfect little toddler babbling all over while mine is struggling. As of many months ago we have her going to speech and getting the necessary help, but I just can’t help but put the blame all on myself.

    I think Hey! I am educated, I nurture and tend to my children. We play, I try to teach, but she just won’t talk.

    Everyone says, she will when she is ready but again can’t help but hold all on guilt right on my shoulders.

    Not a glass of wine, but I understand where you are coming from!

  4. Anonymous Commenter 5 says:

    Thank you for sharing this major lifestyle change with us and congratulations on accomplishing something that many people cannot begin to imagine doing. I too stopped drinking for similar reasons and yesterday was 14 months without having that crutch I thought I needed. I’m an accountant so I count EVERYTHING and I definitely know how long it’s been since I had a glass of Cabernet! Lol. My experience is similar to yours with having much more clarity. I’ve never felt better and I find that I’m more present with my children without needing wine to “relax”. Congratulations again and thank you for bringing up a topic that affects so many moms out there. I have a feeling you inspired some other moms to give this not drinking thing a try!

  5. Anonymous Commenter 6 says:

    LHalf the day I wonder if it’s too late for coffee. The other half I wonder if it’s too early for wine.” I loved this quote the first time I saw it, I read it as a funny way to “bond” with other moms. Until I realized just how true it was, how much I had come to rely on the boost from coffee or the relaxation from wine. I used both as a quick-fix way to stabilize my own mood, to combat a long night or a long day. I want to get back to a place where I have either one out of pure enjoyment, rather than “need”. Your break is inspiring. Thank you for sharing your journey and helping us all look inward in the process!