I have so many “how on earth could I be doing this if I was still boozing” moments nowadays, but none more so than when I’m driving my kids around in the evening to their activities.
My Three Sons…
This happens a lot given I’ve entered that phase of parenting when I seem to be mostly a personal chef and taxi driver. My three sons are currently aged 13, 11 and 8 – and they’re all crazy busy with after school activities such as swim training, Scouts, drama, athletics, football and rugby.
I spend hours and hours sitting behind the steering wheel in my car – and sometimes it’s dark outside!
Driving at night still seems like a huge novelty to me, even after nearly 6 years of being sober. It’s undoubtedly one of the most joyful aspects of sobriety – being able to drive myself and others any time of the day and night.
And it often leads me to think.. how could I be driving my sons right now at 8pm if I was still a boozer? How could I be doing this if I was still a ‘5pm is wine o’clock’ drinker? Any drop-off or pick-up after 5pm would be dangerous for me.
How Would I Handle This?
Would I delay drinking? On the nights when the final pick-up is at 9pm that’d be damn near impossible. I didn’t cope very well with alcohol free nights….
Would I drive with wine already in my system? This seems more likely. I’d probably have a rough limit at which I would let myself drink and still drive – two or so drinks. But this would be a blurry limit.. very blurry indeed. Shudder. Honestly it doesn’t bear thinking about. I’m just so, so grateful that I quit drinking and don’t have to deal with this dilemma.
My kids aren’t fully aware of how I’ve changed things for them of course. They know that I’m sober but they can’t relate this fact to how their lives are now. I doubt they’ve ever sat in the back of the car and thought ‘great that mum isn’t drinking any more or she couldn’t be driving me tonight’. They don’t have any real concept of how different or bad things could be if I hadn’t gotten sober. I’m not sure that they think about it too much at all to be honest.
Sobriety and Addiction are Not Taboo Subjects…
This isn’t because it’s a taboo subject in our household – far from it. I’m very upfront about the reasons why I don’t drink. They know Mum doesn’t touch alcohol because she can’t control it (I told them, “When you’re an addict like me you can’t stop at just one. You want more and more so it’s best if I don’t touch it at all”). They know I’ve written a book about getting sober and they’ve seen me in the media talking about alcohol and my recovery. They’re proud of me for that, but it isn’t something (as far as I’m aware) that they think about for too long. One day they might read my book and know what a huge deal my getting sober was and what a massive impact it had on their childhoods, but until then it’s all rather casual in their minds.
I think that’s a good thing. I think it’s great that they are growing up with an openly sober mum and therefore an understanding that alcohol has a dark side and it isn’t a harmless substance for everyone. This is their norm and it’s the truth so I’m happy they know this (it’s not an understanding I ever had as a kid).
They’ll become adults and make their own decisions – and who knows what those decisions might be – but at least for now I can be comfortable with the fact that I’m bringing them up with an understanding of what impact alcohol can have, and that I’m modelling happy and content alcohol-free living.
And that is the most powerful thing of all.