Drunk Mom

Jowita Bydlowska's memoir details her relapse into alcoholism after the birth of her first child.

Jowita Bydlowska

Three years after giving up drink, Jowita Bydlowska found herself throwing back a glass of champagne like it was ginger ale. "It's a special occasion," she said to her boyfriend. And indeed it was. It was a party celebrating the birth of their first child. It also marked Jowita's immediate, full-blown return to alcoholism and all that entails for a new mother who is at first determined to keep her problem a secret. 

Her trips to liquor stores are in-and-out missions. Perhaps she's being paranoid, but she thinks people tend to notice the stroller. Walking home, she stays behind buildings, in alleyways, taking discreet sips from a bottle she's stored in the diaper bag. She know she's become a villain: a mother who drinks; a mother who endangers her child. She drinks to forget this. And then the trouble really starts.

Jowita Bydlowska's memoir of her relapse into addiction is an extraordinary achievement. The writing is raw and immediate. It places you in the moment — saddened, appalled, nerve-wracked, but never able to look away or stop turning the pages. With brutal honesty, Bydlowska takes us through the binges and blackouts, the self-deception and less successful attempts to deceive others, the humiliations and extraordinary risk-taking. She shines a light on the endless hunger of wanting just one more drink, and one more again, while dealing with motherhood, anxiety, depression — and rehab.

Her struggle to regain her sobriety is recorded in the same unsentimental, unsparing, sometimes grimly comic way. But the happy outcome is evidenced by the existence of this brilliant book: she has lived to tell the tale. (From Doubleday Canada)

From the book

Besides drinking and thinking about how lonely I am, I devote my free time to further self-care. The baby is still sleeping a lot, and I try to keep busy so I don't drink too much during the day now that I've begun that scary phase. For now, I manage to count between drinks and never go beyond my limit. I'm a day sipper, an evening drinker. I'm a night drunk.

To kill the time that stretches between my drinking rituals, I get regular haircuts and facials. I shop. Being a mother now, I finally feel entitled to small luxuries. I buy my first fur, first Marc Jacobs. I tell myself this is because I deserve it. I had the Pain. Twenty-three hours of it and 18 staples in my stomach to prove I've earned my place in the pantheon of being a grown-up. I'm a grown-up. I'm just like the other mothers I pass.

From Drunk Mom by Jowita Bydlowska ©2013. Published by Doubleday Canada.


Drunk Mom: a memoir

11 years ago
Duration 8:01
Jowita Bydlowska's story of new mother's addiction

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