A modern lifestyle brand redefining motherhood

Staring Into the Abyss Without the Bandaid of Booze

Happy Anniversary to me, myself and I.


We’re celebrating six months without alcohol. Though, I will confess that the terms “happy” and “celebrating” are debatable.

Giving up something you love because you love it too much is a hateful task. Especially if you loved white wine and vodka martinis because they took some of the hate, anxiety and fear out of your life for a few hours every day.

Without those temporary fixes, you’re left with a big giant black hole into which you must stare day in and day out. That black hole can see you too. There is no reprieve. And neither of you blinks.

Scary? You bet. That’s what the last six months have been.

But I’m also here to tell you that there is light at the end of the tunnel – more like a tiny match.

I didn’t get a glimpse of it until day 151, but it was waiting for me the whole time. Things once too scary for words, grow less frightening the longer you stare unaided.

When my son David was born in 2004, I thought he was the most terrifying thing on Earth and I was overwhelmed by the prospects of keeping him safe. A little wine in the evening after he fell asleep helped push back the terror. The older he got, the more wine I needed for the increasing threats against us both. (Note: I didn’t drink while pregnant because the fear of those consequences outweighed the others.)

I had a constant pit in my stomach from parenting – or what I privately called “baby-alive keeping.” The “what-if beast” raged in my head. What if he gets a brain tumor? What if I get a brain tumor? Ironically, all that fear and wine was compromising my liver. And my need to drink was no doubt making my son less safe.

When my dad got sick with Alzheimer’s disease, I used wine to assuage that reality, too. When he died, I started to fixate on my mortality as well as my own odds of getting AD. Better sip a few martinis to push back those thoughts! Ironically, all that booze was compromising my memory, as well as my liver and my son’s safety.

And so it went. Worried about this? Drink that! The converse was true too. Happy about something? Drink to that! Feeling somewhere in the middle? Sip to support the sublime!

The answer to every question was either Chardonnay or Smirnoff.

Until the day it wasn’t.

Ironically, that day happened in the Middle East for me. Living in Abu Dhabi, as we were, offers a lot of good reasons to drink. Feelings of alienation. Concerns about terrorism. Worries about family back home. Doubts about your decisions to be in the UAE.

The truth is that most of the expats I met in Abu Dhabi were way more moderate. Moreover, my drinking habit stood out in a country whose native inhabitants were non-drinking Muslims. Nobody, where I worked at Khalifa University, was familiar with the concept of Happy Hour, which by this point I had extended into happy hours upon hours.

With every trip to the covert liquor store known as Spinney’s, I felt more and more aware of how much I was imbibing. On the occasions when I didn’t notice, my cab driver usually did.

“Do you drink every day?” one asked me after waiting 10 minutes while I shopped. I wanted to scream “NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!” Instead, his question got me thinking. But yet again, my answer was more of the same. Vodka and vermouth. Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Treadmill to run off the hangover. Rinse. Repeat. Day in and day out. Days had turned into years.

Then came March 28, 2014.

I went to the doctor that morning to get a minor prescription refilled where I was confronted with the fact that my blood pressure was scarily high as was my weight. Even though I’d sensed that a reality check was coming, it arrived as a shock. New questions popped up: How did this happen? Now what? I was gonna need new answers.

I had no choice but to enter into a staring contest with the deep, scary abyss inside me without the bandaid of booze. I knew that deep in my recesses there was a secret weapon – a slight advantage over my demons – in the form of competitiveness and courage.

The same tendencies that helped me become a national championship swimmer – and carry on after my father’s death – might be able to help me face off against these liquid foes.

Bercaw in Lane 4. Chardonnay in Lane 5. Vodka in Lane 3. Whisky in Lane 2. Beer in Lane 6. But being a sprinter wasn’t going to serve me well in this race. I’d have to go the distance for the rest of my life.

Day by day, I duked it out with fear, anxiety and dread WITHOUT the boost of mother’s little helpers.

I watched what I thought was my identity go down the drain with the rest of the booze. I shuffled to work, where I couldn’t focus. I plodded home, where I couldn’t sleep. A day turned into a week. A week into a month.

Today, 185 days later, I feel relief. And I’ve come to some conclusions about how I can best manage my fears back home in Vermont.

I don’t like doing things at night because darkness worsens the abyss. I do like to go out during the day for breakfast and lunch and COFFEE and milkshakes and air and sun and clouds and butterflies and my son’s swim meets and my husband’s gigs and walks to end Alzheimer’s disease. At night, however, I need candles, HGTV and a cozy blanket and fancy seltzer and peace and quiet to stave off the “what ifs.”

I don’t know if I’ll always prefer curling up on the couch to going out at night, but this is the way I arrived at September 28, 2015. One thing I do know, though, is that I will forever be grateful to the Middle East – a region that confounds so many Americans – for bringing me clarity.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

Subscribe to get inspiration and super helpful ideas to rock your #momlife. Motherhood looks amazing on you.

Already a subscriber? Log in here.

We're a busy people, this family of mine. And we like it that way. But we're still always looking for simple ways to reconnect.

And most of the time, those moments happen around the dinner table.

I'm not embarrassed to admit we've become homebodies—we vastly prefer nights in watching movies and meals at home to the stress and cost of evenings out. While my husband and I still try to schedule a few legit date nights out now and then, by the end of our busy days, we like relaxing at the table as a family, then putting our daughter to bed to spend time together catching up on our shows or watching a movie. Most of our dates happen on the couch, and we're okay with that.

Dinner itself is a tradition I grew up valuing. As one of five kids, it seemed to be the only time our family was really all together, catching up on our days, making plans, or even just being physically present together. (This reminds me so much of the table we would gather around every night!)

Now that I'm my family's connector, I make sure to prioritize that time (even if most nights it's all I can do to get my wiggly toddler to sit still long enough to get a few bites of her dinner).



Whether we're relishing a home-cooked meal or simply noshing some pizza (because mama is tired, folks), nothing can replace the feeling of reconnecting—or leaving the table with satisfied bellies.

Because something strange happens when you have kids. Suddenly, time seems to enter a warp. One day (usually the days when nap time is short and the tantrums are long), time will drag on endlessly, making each minute feel like an hour until my husband gets home and can help with the kids. But most of the time, when I stop and really think about where we are in this busy season of life, I feel like time is flying by.

I look at my daughter, and I feel like someone has snuck in during the night and replaced her with this big-little girl because I swear she was just born a few months ago. I hug my son, unsure where the time has possibly gone because didn't I just take that positive pregnancy test yesterday? And I marvel at this rapidly growing family my husband and I have built because, really, wasn't he just asking me to be his girlfriend a year or two ago? (Try 10, self. That was 10 years ago.)

But as fast as time races by, I don't have any answers for how to slow it down. If anything, the pendulum seems to swing quicker and quicker as our days fill with new activities. With jobs and responsibilities, with more and more activities and play dates for the kids.



But at the dinner table, I feel like time slows down enough for me to pause and look at this little family. I imagine us two, five, 10 years down the road (gathering around a table just like one of these). More little (and then not so little) faces peering at me over the table, asking for another piece of bread or more milk as my husband makes them giggle with a silly face or story.

I imagine them as teenagers, telling me about an upcoming test or asking if they can borrow the car after dinner. I even see them as adults, coming back to visit with their own kids for the occasional family dinner. (Hey, a mom can dream, right?)

No matter where life takes us—or how quickly—I'm grateful for this time and this place where we can always come back together.

This article was sponsored by Arhaus. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


Jessica Alba's Honest Company has joined forces with Rosie O'Neill of the candy company Sugarfina to create some adorable candy-themed limited edition diaper prints, bibs, and gift sets that include a little something special for mom. [Update: And they're now available outside of the gift sets and subscriptions!]

Seriously, Sugarfina and Honest are a match made in heaven. The Honest Company is known for its cheerful prints and Sugarfina is known for its gourmet gummies, and the combo of the two is super adorable. Alba tested the prints on her baby boy, Hayes.

"It's so cute when he just crawls around with the little gummy bear diaper and the matching bib. It's really sweet. That's what's great about our diapers—they just look so cute on your baby, even when your baby's in nothing else but just their little diaper," she tells Motherly.

There are two prints: Boo Bear (the gummy bears Hayes wears) and Sweet Thing (modeled after Sugarfina's popular baby butterfly gummies). The prints are available in diaper cakes and bibs separately on Honest.com or packaged alongside a cube of matching candy on in the gift sets available through Sugarfina.

As Motherly previously noted, Alba feels it's very important for her company to work with fellow women entrepreneurs, which is how this partnership with O'Neil and Sugarfina was born. Alba's been a fan of the candy company since it launched, and often adds a little Sugarfina to gifts she gives.

"I was just thinking that, wouldn't it be cute to do a collaboration with them and have that ultimate baby shower experience? So that you have the diaper cake, and you could even do a themed baby shower around our diaper cakes." Alba tells Motherly.

Alba and O'Neil both wanted to create some surprise and delight for mom by recognizing that when people are giving gifts to a new mom, the presents are often actually for the baby. With these gift sets, mom gets to enjoy a grown-up treat while also enjoying the incredibly cute baby gear.

"Obviously the diapers are for the babies to wear, but there's something to be said for making sure that the product that we're going to use for our babies are relevant, and enjoyable for us too, and they bring us joy," says O'Neill. "We wanted to make it so the box was really beautiful, and you felt proud to give it as a gift and also there's something for the mom."

Alba agrees, adding that pairing some Sugarfina candy for mom with the matching prints for baby also makes for a great gift not only before the baby is born, but after, when mama probably hasn't had much time to treat herself.

"I know, after having three kids, how important it is for you also to be considered and pampered a bit. So yeah, it is definitely a really sweet gifting moment when you can show up, whether you're meeting the baby for the first time, and you have the diaper cake, and you have a little sweet something for Mom. And if she has multiple kids, it's always nice to give something that another sibling can enjoy as well."

Discount code for Motherly readers 

When we first told you about this launch back on October 2 these limited edition prints were exclusive to the Honest diaper bundle subscribers and the diaper cakes (meaning you couldn't yet buy the candy print diapers outside of the the mini cake, the regular diaper cake and the gift sets available through Sugarfina).

Now though, you can get the limited edition Honest x Sugarfina diapers even if you're not a bundle subscriber (or don't need a whole diaper cake) and Honest has offered Motherly readers a 20% off discount code!

CODE: HonestXSugarfina20

TERMS AND CONDITIONS: Eligible for Honest Sugarfina diaper shop purchases only on honest.com. Eligible on order subtotals up to $500 maximum. Limit 1 promo code per person/household. Offer expires at 11:59 p.m. (PST) on 10/31/2018. Promo Code not valid on Bundles or Trials. Code must be entered into "Promo Code" section at Checkout. Discount applied before taxes, shipping or surcharges. Cannot be applied to previous purchases, Gift Card purchases, Gift Bundles or Add-On items. Cannot be combined with any other promotion or redeemed for cash, unless required by law. Certain charges for return shipping may apply. Note, Promo Code will not apply if there is a Trial in your cart. Terms subject to change at any time.

[Update, October 18, 2018: This post was originally published October 2, 2018. It has been updated to reflect the new availability of the diapers outside the bundles and gift sets, and with the discount code.]

You might also like:

Hamburgers are a favorite food for kids (and mamas, too) and a bag of fast-food burgers is something many parents reach for when the days get busy and cooking dinner isn't in the cards.

But a new report by Consumer Reports suggests that while quick-service restaurants have been doing a pretty good job of getting antibiotics out of chicken dishes, antibiotics are still finding their way into most beef-based burgers kids love so much, and this could make antibiotics less effective when our kids need them.

Giving healthy cattle the same antibiotics that we need to treat illnesses in humans is "a major contributor to antibiotic resistance," Consumer Reports notes. It's totally possible for beef producers to raise beef without antibiotics, but because the antibiotics are used to combat the effects of crowded feedlots and non-grass diets that are pretty standard in the industry, it is a challenge.

Two fast-food burger chains have managed to find producers who are up for that challenge though, and are able to provide the restaurants with antibiotic-free beef.

Where to grab an antibiotic-free burger

Shake Shack and BurgerFi both got Consumer Reports' highest scorecard rating. The chains earned their A ratings because their sourcing policies mean 100% of the beef served in those restaurants is raised without antibiotics.

In a statement to Motherly, Jeffrey Amoscato, Vice President of Supply Chain and Menu Innovation, says Shake Shack has always been committed to making sure the ingredients it sources come from suppliers who don't use antibiotics.

"Our beef, chicken and pork are all 100% all-natural—no added hormones or antibiotics ever, vegetarian fed, humanely raised and source-verified. It's something that's very important to us so we're thrilled to be recognized for our efforts," Amoscato tells Motherly.

It's not easy for chains to find those kinds of suppliers though, BurgerFi CEO Corey Winograd points out in a statement to Motherly. BurgerFi only uses beef with "no steroids, antibiotics, growth hormones, chemicals or additives" and "only about 1% of the beef produced in the United States meets the strict BurgerFi standards of quality."

In terms of scale, BurgerFi is a pretty small player in the quick-service world, with over 100 locations. McDonalds has more than 10 times that many locations in the state of California alone.

The big burger chains scored poorly

With almost 14,000 restaurants sprinkled across America, a significant number of quick-service burgers consumed by American kids come from McDonald's, which received an F rating from Consumer Reports for its use of beef treated with antibiotics.

And McDonalds wasn't alone in this. Most of the big drive-through chains we pass by every day got an F rating. Wendy's stood out for its D- because it has committed to "sourcing a small percentage of beef from producers who minimize (but don't eliminate) the use of medically important antibiotics in their cattle," Consumer Reports notes.

Motherly reached out to McDonald's and Wendy's, as well as Whataburger, A&W, Carl's Jr., Burger King, Five Guys, Jack in the Box and other restaurant chains but has not heard back as of this writing (we will update this story if we do).

Change is needed

Of course, it would be hard for a chain the size of McDonald's to source antibiotic-free beef, but experts suggest that if the big chains tried, consumers would be willing to pay more for those burgers. Plus, if a major player asked suppliers to go antibiotic-free, it would change the industry. It can and should be done, Lena Brook, M.E.S., interim director for food and agriculture at the Natural Resources Defense Council told Consumer Reports.

"The fact is, Shake Shack and BurgerFi have managed to eliminate antibiotic use entirely in the beef they purchase," Brook says. "Imagine the impact if McDonald's were to do the same."

Non-burger fast food

While there was a lot of bad news in the burger category, mamas who need a quick dinner for the family (without antibiotics) don't have to avoid fast food chains altogether if that's what they want to eat.

Chick-fil-A, Chipotle, and Panera Bread all got an A from Consumer Reports. Most of the meat and poultry ingredients at Panera and Chipotle are raised without antibiotics and Chick-fil-A is taking steps to ensure its suppliers do not use antibiotics by the end of 2019.

You might also like:


You don't have to tell a mama just how irresistibly cute her baby is—we get it. There is just something about that feathery hair, those teeny fingers and their precious outfits that make babies completely magnetic, even to strangers. The problem is that strangers can bring along some strange germs, which is no small concern this time of year.

Now, some parents are going on the offensive against people prone to ohh-ing and aww-ing in dangerously close proximity to babies without getting a parents' permission. With some brilliant (and creative) signs that can be affixed to strollers or car seatsand even a onesie that spells out "Please, don't touch me,"it's easier for parents to send the message that their baby should not be touched.

With yet another cold and flu season upon us, keeping babies healthy is top of mind for just about every mama—especially those of us with the tiniest babies. Last year, as we were going into one of the worst flu seasons on record, I welcomed my second child and quickly had to learn how to speak up to the people in grocery store lines who would try to shake my baby's hand or touch her cheeks.

Harsh as it may sound, if someone was offended when I (kindly) asked them not to touch my baby, that was a worthwhile tradeoff for keeping my infant healthy. I just wish I had one of these signs to do the hard work for me!

As Tracy Lapointe from the Etsy shop Little Love Canada says, her pediatrician approved and recommended these signs for use during a baby's first six months of life while their immune systems are strengthening.

"Just one well meant cheek pinch or hand rub can transmit harmful germs to an infant," Lapointe says. "This tag will politely let others know that you would rather not have germs spread to your child via physical contact."

Considering most people mean well, these cute and creative signs are an easy way to give everyone a refresher on best practices around babies.

[Update, October 18, 2018: Added onesie to slideshow.]

You might also like:

You don't have to spend a lot on holiday gifts; sometimes the smallest items are the most memorable. Our 20 under $20 picks offer something for every kid on your list this year!

1. Eva & Elvin Knee Socks

Comfy, adorable, and super on trend, these critter-inspired knee socks couldn't be cuter.

BUY

2. Holztiger Little Brown Bear Toy Figure

These timeless and beautiful wood figures will capture your child's heart and imagination.

BUY

3. Meri Meri Liberty Alphabet Stickers

Spell out your message in style with these classic floral alphabet stickers.

BUY

4. Seedling Star Wand

Turn any day into a magical one! This princess wand even glows in the dark.

BUY

5. Tattly Tattoos

These skin-safe, non-toxic temporary tattoos are fun for all ages.

BUY

6. The Nutcracker: A Baby Lit Dancing Primer

You're never too young for the classics. This board book version of the classic Christmas ballet will quickly find a place in your holiday traditions.

BUY

7. Petit Collage Pop-Outs: Winter Wonderland

Let your little one create her own holiday decor with these easy to assemble, sturdy winter-themed pop-outs.

BUY

8. Mudpuppy Puzzle To Go: Animals of the World

This travel-friendly puzzle will makes its way over the river and through the woods this holiday season.

BUY

9. Uncle Goose ABC Blocks

You can never go wrong with blocks, and these handcrafted solid wood ones are some of our faves.

BUY

10. Boon Building Bath Pipes

These colorful pipes suction to the wall and can be used individually or as a set. Bath time has never been so much fun!

BUY

11. Tegu Travel Pals

A perfect non-tech toy for travel, these magnetic puzzle blocks can be arranged in lots of different ways for endless fun.

BUY

12. Marcus & Marcus Learning Chopsticks

Start honing those sushi skills early with these modern, stylish learning chopsticks.

BUY

13. HABA Shakin' Eggs

Rattle and jingle your way through the holiday season with these bright, colorful egg rattles!

BUY

14. Green Toys Submarine

Dive deep into bath time with this super fun submarine made from 100% recycled milk jugs.

BUY

15. Yellow Owl Workshop Unicorn + Rainbow Small Stamp Kit

Stamp your way to a magical day with this kit perfect for craft time, or any time!

BUY

16. Peg People Family

This Waldorf-inspired set of hand painted wooden peg dolls will spark the imagination of any pretend play-loving kiddo.

BUY

17. PlayTape

Let your little one build his own road, highway, or race track! (And yes, it's totally safe for rugs, floors, and painted surfaces. ?)

BUY

18. Manhattan Toys Skwish

Just as fun to play with as it is to say!

BUY

19. Baby Sew Lovable Soft Sensory Block

Stimulate baby's senses with this hand-sewn sensory block, packed with features like a grasping ring, crinkly sides, and high contrast black and white imagery.

BUY

20. Montessori Wooden Elephant Puzzle

Little hands will love fitting these handmade elephants together from smallest to biggest, learning size, color, and spacial skills along the way.

BUY

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Motherly provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.Your use of the site indicates your agreement to be bound by our  Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Information on our advertising guidelines can be found here.