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Next Life, NO Kids: September 2017

September 15, 2017

Dear Moms: Wine Is Not A Food Group

I'm SO tired of everything "mom" having to do with alcohol. Wine is not a food group, and normalizing abnormal drinking is dangerous; not just for moms, but also for our children.

I'm sick of seeing martini glass emojis in my inbox at 7am. I've grown weary of ignoring and avoiding certain "benign" and "lighthearted" jokes about day-drinking and your "borderline alcoholism." I'm sick of remaining silent, and I'm not sorry if that rubs people the wrong way.

If your first response is to scold me for my ignorance, because you don't even drink as much as you say you do online, I'll beg you to say that out loud first and let it sink in. Go ahead... I'll wait.

It's clearly trendy, hip, and popular to cosign and promote the mom drinking culture, but I've been pretty unpopular my whole life, so I guess I'll live.

The idea that there are two groups of drinkers, "alcoholics and non-alcoholics" is a bit archaic. Just because you're not an alcoholic doesn't mean drinking too much can't harm you. Your non-alcoholism is not a Get Out Of Jail Free card or a shield against the problems that can and will result from consuming even one too many.

You don't have to be an alcoholic to get a DUI. "Alcoholism" is not a requirement for any of the consequences of drinking or dependency. Alcohol doesn't much care how you personally identify yourself before you start drinking. Buzzed is buzzed and drunk is drunk. Some might even argue that social drinkers who foster a healthy relationship with alcohol don't often experience or enjoy either.

To be honest, I'm not even sure after all these years if I actually qualified under that "alcoholic" diagnosis or not. What I can tell you is that my life got better after I stopped hiding behind the relief I thought I was getting from a drink. I believed in the all or nothing approach then, and thankfully it worked for me.

Had I been subjected to this current culture back then at age 22, I wonder how much more suffering I would have endured to fit in with the cool moms. I wonder if the message that getting lit was the normal thing to do as a mom would have kept me from seeking treatment.

I wonder how long it would have taken me to end my life, leaving my daughter motherless, or for me to end up in the news as one of those horrible monster mothers.

Maybe you think I'm exaggerating, and that's okay. I'm not, and I have spoken to countless other women who have felt the societal pressures to drink, even after making the decision to stop.

**Drinking is NOT a required tool for surviving motherhood.**

The message that it is is about as f*cked as some of the woman buying into it might be if we don't stop spreading these horrible rumors trying to make "Drunk Mom" adorable.

I promise you, she's not always adorable.

Ask me, I'll tell you.

Tweet: Dear Moms: Wine is Not a Food Group https://ctt.ec/befvS+ via @NextLifeNOKids

Follow Julie @NextLifeNOKids

** If you or someone you know is struggling with problem drinking, please know that abstinence is not the only option for recovery. There are programs and treatments in place to help people find healthier relationships with alcohol, and support for risk management. Visit the Sober Mommies resource page for an inclusive list of other options!





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September 14, 2017

Why This Mom is Heading Back to School Even Though it is Selfish

I am heading back to school to finish up unfinished business and get some fancy letters after my name. I'm 70% sure it's going to end in disaster.

I can't wait to be surrounded by 20-year-olds wondering what the hell I'm doing in their classes. The other day I started thinking about how selfish it is that I'm making the conscious decision to sacrifice time with my kids to fulfill this dream of mine.

Why did I wait so long? Why didn't I do this sooner like everyone else?

And then I remembered: I was busy.

I was busy getting sober at 22, and restarting a brand new life without alcohol. I was busy learning how to live -- how to be a mother and friend -- without the incredible relief getting drunk provided me. I was adjusting my ass to better fit into "big girl pants."

I was too busy fighting with myself about whether or not I was worthy of physical custody, and going to court every six months to be reminded I wasn't. I was busy making sure the little girl in my life knew that custodial or not, I was there and present and able to be her mom.

There wasn't much time for school, working two jobs or between the countless meetings I was taught to depend on for air. I wasn't as free to do whatever it was I wanted, because death was lurking around every corner, and college would have been "dangerous."

Then I got super busy with fear; afraid it had been too long, that it wouldn't be like riding a bike. I would fall behind and make a fool of myself. I would fail. And then that failure would trigger me back to a drink and we would all die miserable deaths because of my selfishness.

"How are you going to balance all of this? There's no way!" has been spouted off by a few too many of my female friends. After pressing, it seems if they feel they can't do something, I probably won't be able to pull it off either. Fortunately, that's now how any of this works.

Last week, the topic of this new venture upset my eight year old. He told me I was too old for college, and his eyes filled up with tears. I immediately felt guilty and responsible for these feelings. I jumped straight to how selfish it might be to want something other than this gift of being called "Mom," and I wondered for a brief moment if he was right. I began to freak out a little...

And then I remembered: I was prepared.

I asked him if he was feeling nervous or worried that I wouldn't be able to be a very good mom, because I would be so busy with school. He nodded. I took him into my arms, and I told him (and that doubtful voice inside me) as matter-of-factly as I've ever said anything, "This is going to make me an even better mom for you." I believe that.

Returning to school is for me; most definitely, and could totally be viewed as selfish. It is something I've known I wanted and needed to do ever since I left. I am simply not done walking this particular path. However, there are also tiny eyes watching, and the fiercely amazing message that you are never too old to do whatever it is that you want to do.

Heading back to school is also for my kids. The best thing I can do for them is provide them with a happy, purposeful mother. A mother who challenges and pushes herself whenever possible to change and grow the ways she pushes them to.

Is going back to school right now a little selfish? Maybe. But don't I deserve it? Haven't I worked hard enough to earn the right to take some time to better myself? Absolutely. Won't this selfish act prove to be worth every second in the long-run? I sure hope so.

After all, "It is never too late to be what you might have been." ~ George Eliot

I hope you'll share this and help me spread this powerful message!

September 03, 2017

Get Lost and Then Find Your Way Back

*this post includes sponsored material*
You all know how much I love getting lost so I can find myself.

We made the drive yesterday and spent the entire afternoon at the grand opening for "Mann's Maze." My husband loves corn mazes, and is always searching for new fall activities for us to enjoy on our weekends.
In celebration of their 140th anniversary, Mann’s Orchards opened the very first corn maze in Methuen, Massachusetts! “Mann’s Maze,” at Mann's Riverside Farm, includes a seven acre corn maze, a giant coloring mural, giant chess and checkers, pumpkin bowling, a bean bag toss, water pump races, a petting zoo, and more. 
We jumped at the opportunity to check it out! Jessica and her husband joined us, and we spent the whole day laughing and enjoying the amazing scenery. The staff was super friendly, and the kids loved their caramel apples on the way home.

This is a fall event not to be missed!

They also have traditional fall favorites like kettle corn, cider donuts, candy apples and Mann’s homemade apple crisp!

Open Tuesday - Sunday from 10am-6pm, September 9 through October 31!!

Guests are invited to make their way through Mann’s Maze during the evening every Friday and Saturday starting September 22 from 6pm-10pm. The price is $14 per person. 
Bring a flashlight or purchase one at the farm!

Want to check out the maze and farm for free? 
Enter below to WIN 4 TICKETS!!

**Full Disclosure** I was compensated for the time it took me to write this post and promote Mann's Maze. All opinions are my own.**