Monday, 11 April 2016


One of the (many) benefits of sober life is that when your children ask you tricky questions - about sex, drugs, relationships or morals - you can be properly on your toes, and able to give it your best shot.

It's also easier to advise them about risky behaviours and self care without feeling like a hypocrite.

The other day, #1 and I were taking the dog for a walk.

"Mummy, " she asked me, out of the blue, "why did you get cancer?"

The thing to remember about this kind of conversation, is that they don't really come out of the blue. They've probably been fretting about it for ages, and waiting for the right moment, and the courage, to bring it up.

You need to think about why they're asking.

Thinking fast (and soberly - whoop whoop), I concluded that #1 might be worried that she'll get it herself one day, or worried that I'll get it again. Probably both.

The side benefit of being thrown a question like this one, is that it gives you permission to throw back a little, barely disguised, lecture on lifestyle choices....

"Well," I replied, taking a deep breath, "for a start, you mustn't worry. You know that horrid, genetic breast cancer that Angelina Jolie's mother had? The one that runs in families? It's called BRCA1&2."

She nods.

"I was tested for that, and I don't have it. As far as they can tell, my cancer is not genetic. Not hereditary."

"So, why you then?"

"Sometimes these things are just bad luck, but there are some major risk factors. Smoking is a biggie as you know, (hard stare for re-enforcement) but I quit fifteen years ago, thank God. Being overweight and eating badly is another, but that wasn't really me either....

"......the only thing I did which could have caused my breast cancer is I drank too much alcohol."

"But you haven't drunk for ages, and you never drank very much anyway," she replied, vehemently.

And, reader I confess, I could have spoken up and corrected her, but I was so thrilled at being portrayed in her memories as a moderate drinker that I said nothing.

"Well, recent studies have shown that even one or two glasses of wine a day can hugely increase your chances of getting breast cancer," I told her.

"But now I don't smoke, I don't drink, and I eat super healthily, so there's no way I'm getting pesky cancer again.

"Just remember, what you eat, drink and put in your body matters. Everything in moderation - that's the key."

Ha ha ha. SM preaching moderation. Who'd have thought?

So, try not to worry too much about your children. The thirteen months I've been sober feels like an eternity to mine, they can barely remember the before.

And children do have the ability to re-write history in a way we can only dream of.

SM x


  1. As ever a timely post SM.
    After a weekend of PAWS, lots of Googling of whether I will get breast cancer like my mum, is this pain in my chest a heart attack etc etc. Now on a better day am able to think more rationally and see that my healthier lifestyle will hopefully pay off.
    The Son also told me yesterday that I am "so healthy..." which made me soar. Previously he has seen drunk me and know he was worried at times. Just hope he has forgotten now...xx

  2. I have lots to share about not wanting to be a hypocrite. I grew up with an alcoholic single mother who regularly binged on alcohol.

    From an early age I followed in her footsteps, always disguised by that's what other teens and 20 year-olds did anyway. It took me until I was 32 to give up alcohol all together, driven by the fact that I wanted children and didn't want them to grow up like I did. Picking your mum off the floor and trying to get her to bed isn't pretty.

    So I quit for five years and had two healthy babies. Then I met a few lovely mummies who didn't mind a glass or two. Very social and sensible. Over the next year, the same old binge pattern emerged. I found even more mummy friends who liked a glass or two just as much as me and we would happily stay on while and completely lose it. Even though I never hit rock bottom, I had tipped over the edge. So I'm back to being sober.

    It's great. I love everything about it. But big note here, I still really struggle in the company of my friends who drink big. I'm not being honest with them about my past or my fears. I know the heavier drinkers would do their best to tell me I'm different. In fact I even slipped up one night at a dinner party because I couldn't stand the pressure (I didn't restart my count as I wasn't really counting days anyway). I'm still somewhere around month 2 as my heart is still in it.

    My mum is now very sick due to her poor lifestyle choices. My 5-year old has many questions and I could look her in the eyes and talk to her about the importance of living well, and taking care of our bodies. Thanks for the reminder Sober Mummy of the importance of being a good role model for our small people.

  3. Morning y'all!
    It is one of the best things you can do for yourself! Getting sober.....
    I drank to get drunk, one glass was never enough. Soon a bottle wasn't cutting it so I has spirits to start, one or two than a bottle of fizzy wine to finish. Two bottles of wine made me ill, but I could "handle" above combination! Hmmmmm.....
    All my social crowd did the same thing so it was never really flagged as a problem.
    An incident occurred last year which involved my youngest child and it hit me like a two ton truck!
    I was a terrible role model and my youngest was matching my drinking, drink for drink.
    She decided to stop drinking and I joined her to show her how easy it could be! What a fool I was.
    It was one of the hardest things I have done.
    But I put my head down and ploughed on. And now, 294 days later, ( I'm a counter!)
    I am so happy, I persevered.
    Read SM blog on day ones, I think it's called the obstacle course. Every time I thought I could have a drink, I kept going back to that blog. It really resonated with me.
    I never wanted "one" drink! So why start and have to go through all that angst again?
    Don't know if this will help anyone but if you can keep not drinking for one day, they all add up and soon you will have strung all your days together and it does get easier!
    It's never too late, take it from a 58 year old!
    But the sooner you start, the sooner you reap the benefits.

    1. I'm just over a year now. It's not always easy but so worth it! You are right one drink leads to many. Just don't pick up that first wine glass is what I always tell myself when life gets tough.
      I picked up wine at 47. Wow! What a road that lead me down. The wine merry go round. It was an awful experience. One I never want to go through again. I am now 54. Kids grown and happy there mother is sober. It's worth it for ourselves and those that love us!

  4. Such good advice. My kids are getting lessons right now at school about moderate drinking. The other day, my husband poured himself a shot of whiskey and my 10 year old said "I hope that's only 1.5 ounces because you need to be healthy." I jumped in and applauded his knowledge and reinforced the idea of moderation. All the while knowing that I was currently going well over healthful drinking levels :-(

    1. Great that the school are giving that advice! I've just been over to your blog RB - congrats on your final Day One! Xx

  5. Thanks for this post SM...I dread to think of how many times my eldest has seen me in a state...! But it's reassuring to know that they forget easily. Here's hoping! X x

  6. I think the reason your children at ok is that you are open about quitting.
    I have found mine very supportive. They were 8 and 10 when we quit, and they do remember mommy sleeping on the couch after drinking wine, etc.

    But they also see zen mommy, who is dealing with life and open to talk about anything.

    You are awesome!