Putting the Children First – Do Kids Provide an Incentive to Get Sober?


My children are the most important thing in my life and the best thing I have ever accomplished. They drive me nuts. They push the limits as they get older and form new relationships, but they are the two humans in life I can say, “I love”. Loving my children is the only consistent true love I have ever felt.


Putting My Sons Over Drinking?

During my active addiction I still had deep feelings for my boys. I was always committed to being their mum. But I put my need to drink in front of them. I would have jumped in front of a bus for them. But to ask me not to drink for them was almost impossible.


My clearest memory of actually putting them first was my oldest son’s prom.  He told me he was going to an all-night party after the prom with his friends and I was happy with that.  I made the decision to stay sober just in case he called in the night for me to pick him up.  As I suspected, he called me at 3 am and I was so proud of myself that I was able to go and get him that I made sure as many people as possible were aware.  I feel ashamed to say it was the only time I can remember making such a sacrifice.


Volatile and Unpredictable…

When I was drinking my mood was volatile and I could lose my temper at any time. Some would say I was like a volcano bubbling away and when it was going to go off no-one really knew. The tiniest thing could set me off and it didn’t matter who was there when this happened. They would receive the full power of my rage.  It was not a trait that I was proud of. More often than not, my kids saw this either directed at them or someone in their company.


I was a working mum and once I had my second son, I was drinking every night.  After we all had dinner, I couldn’t wait to get them settled down to sleep. Once they were in bed, it gave me the green light to drink. I saw this as my right as a working mum.  I felt hard done by and oppressed. As if I were the one person holding up the whole family.


So why shouldn’t I have a drink of wine on an evening? I deserved it.


As time went on, a drink evolved into a bottle and I soon realised I was drinking too much. So I made a deal with myself to drink just at weekends. But weekends started on Thursday,… and soon I was back drinking every day of the week again.


As the boys got older and my drinking continued, I fell into the “mum’s culture”.  Nights out became afternoons with all the kids in each other’s gardens. While we all drank, quite often to oblivion. A large group of mums was whittled down to 3 or 4 regulars with an unwritten arrangement that as soon as we got together alcohol was involved.  We would quite often talk about our drinking, but would justify it by reassuring each other that we were all okay. Our drinking was normal for stressed mums.




The children are watching…

My oldest son was at high school at this point. And he was watching me escalate into full blown alcoholism.  I was an embarrassment to him – especially in front of his friends.  He stopped having people over and would spend more time at other people’s houses. He was drifting away.


I remember a day I had been with one of the “mum’s culture” moms. And we had been drinking but I hadn’t eaten in a couple of days. I texted the boys to meet me at the chip shop. When they arrived, I could hardly walk. I kept dropping to my knees. And I was crying and saying what a bad mother I was. I would goad them to tell me they didn’t love me but all I did was scare them.  Finally, we got home and I took myself to bed. My husband was working, and my son called him saying he was scared and that I was drunk.  My reaction to this was anger as my husband couldn’t leave work to come home. I felt like my son had let me down. 


The final humiliation…

The final humiliation was a day trip out. I got so drunk that I split red wine down my front. In my mind I was joking around with my oldest boy and his friend, being silly…. The reality was that I was so drunk I was talking rubbish and being a total embarrassment. Even berating them – stating that I was only having some fun and why couldn’t I have a drink or two?


In the end my children provided the incentive I needed… my fear of losing them trumped my addiction…


I have made amends to both of my boys now and can honestly say that getting sober had improved our relationship immeasurably.  I no longer overcompensate nor let them down. And I make a decision based on a judgement of the situation. And not trying to make up for something I may or may not have said or done.  In my amends I never asked for their forgiveness. I just asked that they recognise I was doing my best and their support meant a lot to me. I am aware how lucky I am to have never lost them.


We All Turned Out OKAY…

In return, they are still the fantastic well-rounded kids who express their displeasure as well as their love for me.  Through tough times they have been rock solid and an incredible support. I didn’t start my journey for them, but most definitely see them as my reason to continue.




Nicola Lee had it all - a successful career, 2 children, marriage, car, house... She found herself at alcoholic rock bottom on the 5th December 2015. Nicola says, "After some time in sobriety, I decided to write down my journey through recovery and finding a way to live happily and sober. By writing my truth I hope to dispel some of the myths around what defines an alcoholic." Nicola Lee lives in Hampshire, England. She writes a blog at called 365 'Days a Year' and also writes for the Huffington Post UK.