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."
"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.