Secret Life: Mom Confesses to Alcoholism

Mommy blogger who once drank wine at playdates outed her alcoholism on blog.

ByShana Druckerman and Sean Dooley
April 27, 2010, 1:10 PM

April 29, 2010— -- To fans and readers, Los Angeles-based comedian and author Stefanie Wilder-Taylor was a breath of fresh air. Her laugh-out loud books, "Sippy Cups Are Not for Chardonnay," and "Naptime Is the New Happy Hour," and her blog, "Babyonbored," seemed to champion a little liquid courage to help moms through their day.

"I wasn't saying, you know, go out and just get trashed every night, and who cares if you have kids," Wilder-Taylor, 43, said. "It was just about having fun and still maybe maintaining a little edginess to your personality."

Wilder-Taylor did just that -- keeping up a busy social schedule in Encino, Calif., while balancing her marriage to television writer husband, Jon Taylor, and her new role as mom to daughter Elby.

But the one-time cocktail crusader came to a crossroads last year when she realized her drinking was no longer just for laughs.

"There were definitely times when I felt overwhelmed, 'OK, I've got to make lunch,' at the same time I'm thinking about kindergarten," she said.

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The stress of motherhood was actually driving her to drink more and more each day.

"I always wondered if I was, you know, doing enough, being responsible enough, being nurturing enough," she said. "I think that I drank at night when the kids went to bed kind of to ease the anxiety."

Her anxiety only increased a few years later with the arrival of twins, Sadie and Matilda.

"My life went crazy. ... I had the hormones; I had three kids now at home. Well, I started drinking again with a vengeance," she said. "It spiraled really fast for me. I realized very quickly I'd gone from not drinking at all to drinking a lot, every night."

To her husband, the drinking didn't seem excessive -- even when Wilder-Taylor polished off a full bottle of wine after he had one glass.

Mom's Wakeup Call, Stunning Secret

"I rationalized it definitely to a degree," he said. "You tend to think of the extremes when you think of alcoholism when that's 3 percent of the cases. Ninety percent of the cases are people who have a hidden drinking problem. ... I think I fell into that same category where I thought alcoholism is people who are running around with a Jameson's bottle in their back pockets."

Wilder-Taylor agreed that while she didn't look the part, she knew she had a problem.

"I woke up one day and I was like, 'I'm hung over. I have three children. I'm in my 40s. This ridiculous. I'm a mess, and I need to stop,'" she said.

That hangover, which was ultimately her wakeup call, she admits, sent her to the ER.

But when that hangover subsided, she had another problem -- facing the women she once encouraged to kick back and sip martinis. Last May, she exposed herself in a blog post, entitled, "Secrets."

"I drink too much," she wrote. "It's become a nightly compulsion and I'm outing myself to you; all of you: I have a problem. I quit on Friday."

"I was crying when I wrote the post," she told "20/20." "I was thinking I was going to get judged, and that people were going to, you know, go, 'Oh my God, I can't believe you wrote books that were glamorizing drinking, and now, you know, you're an alcoholic, you know, what a hypocrite.'

Instead, she found the exact opposite. E-mails and posts poured in from moms saying they, too, suspected they had a problem, but didn't have the courage to get help.

"I could not believe how many women are also feeling guilty and ashamed of their drinking, and how many women want to stop and don't know how," she said.

The double standard and the stigma of alcoholism often keep a woman's disease under wraps, experts say, and embarrassment and fear initially held Wilder-Taylor back.

"I think the biggest thing for me was just asking for help, realizing that I can't do this by myself," she said.

Stefanie Wilder-Taylor Says She Enjoys Parenting More After Facing Alcoholism

Wilder-Taylor attended a support group and leaned on her husband. Experts say a stable support system can often make the difference between staying sober and falling off the wagon.

"It's always going to be a balancing act when someone in your family tries to get help with drinking," Jon Taylor said. "You have to look in that overall it's a big net gain."

Almost one year sober, Wilder-Taylor says the rewards are endless.

"I'm actually enjoying parenting more," she said. "Instead of feeling like, 'Oh, they're crying again.' OK, I'm not going to lie, I still feel like that sometimes. ... Now, I'm getting to be that mom that I wanted to be."

Visit the "20/20" Website at all week for more on alcoholic mothers' struggles and watch "20/20" Friday at 10 p.m. ET.

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