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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.

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Diana, our Motherly Experts Editor, had a moment just like that. The result was magic. "I was tucking my middle guy in, and he was all toddler-perfect... lost in a sea of blankets, so cute and little, and I just had this moment of, "wow, one day he is going to be a grown up, and someone else is going to love him..." And the rest is history :)" These poignant moments of motherhood touch the heart in immeasurable ways...balh able bla

After the tears have dried, this unique story, inspired by the overflow of love in a mother's heart, stays with you for a loooong time and is bound to resonate in your heart fas long as a mother's love remains for her child, long after they've left home. That's motherly. And, that's Motherly.

"To the person who falls in love with my son" went viral.

This video, more than the sum of its parts, has provided an overall experience that has transcended its concept, writing, execution, quality of craft—and heart.

• It has been viewed 26,387,039 times.


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This video elevates what is in plain sight to something timeless, universal, and memorable. Bound to live in the heart of anyone who views it, this video is destined for legend in the parenting community online. Our innovative strategy, tactics and creativity combine to succeed at truly engaging our community.

Motherly not only has over 3X the engagement of competitors in the parenting space but also across women's interest and lifestyle categories.

FACEBOOK FOLLOWERS VS. ENGAGEMENT RATE

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With a clean and direct design aesthetic, our content does not get lost in the overload that is so endemic to other brands. Our unique sense of honesty and our authentic and emotional content connect with our community of engaged Millennial moms across channels to deliver results that empower and inspire. Through the powerful lens of motherhood, our content generates mom-to-mom sharing and valuable conversation, unlike any other brand.




Meet Motherly.
We are a community–driven lifestyle brand redefining motherhood. Motherly occupies a unique position in the media landscape, sitting at the intersection of parenting, lifestyle and women's interests to address her entire life and connect her more fully.

At Motherly we have a voice.

We are the only positive, encouraging parenting site reaching and influencing Millennial moms when they are looking for and absorbing more information, products and services than during any other life transition. How we think, act, and express ourselves is why we have built such a strong community of mamas.

Our community engages across all platforms, at Motherly, on Instagram and on Facebook, because mamas are on the move.

Motherly supports mamas through their entire parenthood journey, delivering women-centric content that addresses her whole lifestyle through thousands of articles, images, videos and classes each month with Mom-to-mom insights, inspiration and empowerment.

Our innovative strategy, tactics and creativity combine to succeed at truly engaging our community.

With a clean and direct design aesthetic, our content does not get lost in the overload that is so endemic to other brands. Our approach to content and how it is presented crosses all platforms for a cohesive and truly branded aesthetic that is fresh, clear and direct, always light and enlightening.

With a unique sense of honesty, our authentic and emotional content connects with our community of engaged Millennial moms across channels to deliver results that empower and inspire. Through the powerful lens of motherhood, our content generates mom-to-mom sharing and valuable conversation, unlike any other brand.

Motherly not only has over 3X the engagement of competitors in the parenting space but also across women's interest and lifestyle categories.


FACEBOOK FOLLOWERS VS. ENGAGEMENT RATE

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Sources: Facebook Analytics 2018


The synergy of our compelling content, pure aesthetic and fully engaged community has afforded us staggering fan growth.

In October, 2017, we doubled down on our engagement strategy to reach our community with our innovative approach to content and realized a stunning fan growth of 442% over the following twelve months.



That "something" extra...

Through our social presence—encompassing concept, creativity, content, structure, visual design, functionality and interactivity—women are encouraged and have the confidence to know, "I've got this". As savvy, digital natives, Millennial mamas take Motherly everywhere for information, inspiration, and empowerment—we are the brand that helps her redefine what it means to be motherly, every day.

Vacationing with a baby isn't for the faint of heart. But while it typically means more luggage (hello, travel-friendly bassinets, clothes for all seasons, and more diapers than you can shake a boarding pass at!), it's still possible to have a fun, memorable adventure with your little ones―especially with the right equipment.

Our favorite family vacation saver? The right baby carrier, like BABYBJÖRN Baby Carrier One Air. The breathable, mesh design is perfect for a variety of climates, while the supportive construction will help you stay comfortable while you trek across your favorite destination.

One of our favorite family-friendly locales? Los Angeles. That's why we teamed up with LA mama extraordinaire Magin Birrenkott to share the best places to play in La-La Land when you have little ones in tow.

DO

La Brea Tar Pits and Museum
Perfect for your little dinosaur lovers, the famous Tar Pits and art museum feature something for everyone. Take the tar pit tour to learn more about excavation, or simply let the little ones run around the park to see the variety of sculptures. The museum features a Fossil Lab, atrium, and even a 3D theater to learn more. "You can have lunch and play on the grassy areas around the tar pits and fossil areas, as well as grab a coffee and stroll through the different art exhibits around the park," Birrenkott recommends.

Kidspace Children's Museum
Who says vacation can't also be educational? This incredible children's museum helps your little ones learn about everything from physics to biology―all through the power of play. Babies can face out in the Baby Carrier One so they'll have plenty to look at while staying snuggled up to you. Bigger kids will love experiencing the indoor and outdoor exhibits. Note: Several attractions feature water play, so pack a spare outfit for any kids who like to get messy.

Magin navigating a day out in LA with two little people and one free hand, thanks to the BABYBJÖRN Baby Carrier One Air.

Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens
Lions, tigers, bears...and more! The LA Zoo is home to a variety of animals from around the world―all of which your kiddos will love to admire. The bird show and giraffe feedings are especially popular hits. "Make sure to plan the short trek to the giraffes between 11:00-12:00 and 2:30-3:30. For $5 you get three branches and are able to feed them up close and personal!" Birrenkott says.

Move your little one to your back in the Baby Carrior One Air so they can get close to the action too. "We like to go at the very beginning since they can get full and sometimes walk away if there were too many people in front of you." After letting the kids run out their energy in the zoo, the Botanical Gardens make the perfect spot to relax and have lunch. "There's a beautiful grassy area that's quiet where you can set a blanket and enjoy the beautiful LA weather. And for us struggling tired mamas, there's a coffee shop that has the most amazing lattes and cappuccinos. Huge win."

SEE

The El Capitan Theatre

More than just a must-see on your tour of Hollywood, the El Capitan Theatre is an excellent spot for family memories. There are "Tiny Tot Tuesdays" for families with younger children (AKA, no one will give you a dirty look if your kiddo wants to sing along...or just throws a tantrum mid-show), and all of the family-friendly movies feature something extra, whether it's live Disney cast members, gift bags, or extra effects like confetti. Check the website to find out what is showing during your trip.

Aquarium of the Pacific
If your kids are fans of Finding Dory, they're going to love the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. With everything from penguins to sea otters to sharks (not to mention millions of fish in every shape, size, color), there's something to catch the eye of everyone in your family. The aquarium also features seasonal festivals and events, so check the calendar during your visit to make sure you don't miss their best shows. As for your littlest family members, they'll enjoy a comfy ride through the aquarium in their carrier.

"Our weather is all over the place sometimes, but in the BABYBJÖRN Baby Carrier One Air, he didn't get sweaty at all!" Birrenkott says. "Plus, after two days of activities, my back is in one piece. I can babywear him all the time now!"

Traveling Tikes
Forget something at home? Traveling Tikes on Santa Monica Boulevard is the perfect spot to scoop up any baby gear that didn't make it into your suitcase―including the BABYBJÖRN Baby Carrier One Air for easier travel around town. One other store we love? KIDSLAND on Wilshire Boulevard.


Making the time to explore is one of the greatest gifts you can give your family―and yourself. And thanks to BabyBjörn, now everyone can come along for the ride.

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

If there's anything better than dressing your kids up in adorable holiday outfits, it's gotta be matching them.

We rounded up seven of our favorite looks for this season. 🎁

1. Classic Christmas for kids

Go crisp, clean, classic and Christmassy with a Short Sleeve Smocked Holiday Dress from Feltman Brothers.

Short Sleeve Smocked Holiday Dress, Feltman Brothers, $67.95

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Classic Christmas made modern for mama

Match your cotton cutie in a crisp and modern shirtdress that can last you far beyond Christmas.

Kowtow Monologue Shirt Dress, Garmentory, $93.00

BUY

2. Nordic-themed sweater set

Get cozy + complimentary with black and red family sweaters that you can wear all winter long.

Oh Sno Happy Christmas Collection, Hanna Andersson, $68 - $92

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3. Matchy matchy mommy

A super-affordable option for the matchy matchy mama.

Emmababy Mommy and Me Matching Plaid Long Sleeve Shirt Dress + Princess Tulle Tutu Dress, $14.99

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4. Mommy + me tutus

Tutus make everything, including the holidays, a bit more magical. Grab a matching set to enjoy a twirl with your girl.

Mommy and Me Tulle Tutus, Etsy, $110.00

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5. The perfect plaid dress

Quick! This one is perfect, grab it fast.

Ruffle Trim Babydoll Dress for Toddler Girls, Old Navy, $20.00

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Mama's plaid

Mama deserves ruffles and plaid, too.

Relaxed Plaid Twill Classic Shirt, $24.00, Old Navy

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6. Best sweater set yet

Moms and sons can play match-up, too. Grab a sweater set you can return to the entire season.

Festivewear Sweater Sets, Boden, $55.00-$130.00

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7. Big blue

Light up the night with Santa's sleigh and a sleek little number for mama.

Festive Big Applique Dress, Boden, $48.00

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Blue for you, too

The perfect LBD (little blue dress).

Flippy Pencil Dress, Boden, $170.00

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