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the problem isn’t “mommy drinking culture”…

mommy drinking culture

People have a lot of feelings about “mommy drinking culture”, pro and con. Even I have a lot of feelings about it. Some say it needs to stop. Other’s say we don’t drink enough. (This simple Google search should demonstrate what I’m talking about.)

I don’t think the problem is women drink wine, I think the problem is this pervasive image of social alcoholism and how, for some reason, drinking has become associated with every activity – hanging out at the beach, a backyard BBQ, relaxing after a hard day, parenting disasters, connecting with your buds, etc., and so on.

I don’t have a problem with having a glass of wine now and then, in fact, I really enjoy it. The problem I have is that “mother” should not be synonymous with wine, in as much as “father” or “frat boy” should not be synonymous with beer or being drunk. Something switched here where we decided it’s impossible for people to get through the day in a good way without involving alcohol, there doesn’t seem to be enough of a push to enjoy life without it.

The alcohol-pro agenda is, to me, almost reminiscent of those insidious tobacco industry campaigns of my childhood. (Side note: Remember when there were cigarette vending machines? Damn, that’s nostalgia.) These ads are as pervasive and invasive as nicotine propaganda back in the day.

Alcohol used to be a huge part of my life, to the point of excess. I missed it when I was pregnant and couldn’t wait to have my first glass of wine after I gave birth. You know when I realized it was a problem? When my two-year-old came into the living room and asked me if I wanted “water or wine”, but I had heard her dad ask her if I wanted just a glass of water. Some people would think that’s funny. Maybe it is, maybe I’m being a little too much here. But I don’t want “mom likes wine” to be the norm in our household. This, of course, does not discount a healthy relationship with alcohol, like what I perceive occurs in European households where wine is on the table and not taboo, but I have never lived there nor do I have close European relatives, so I cannot speak knowledgeably to that.

My parenting style has not proven to make my life easier than any other mom out there. My kid drives me batty. My partner drives me batty. My pets drive me batty. My house drives me batty. Some days it’s all too damn much. You need something to help you unwind and relax. Some people choose wine. But should that choice define you to the point it’s become a stereotype? That goes for everyone, not just mothers because moms are the punching bag my feed is throwing around.

I also question the commenters, so quick to rush in and defend themselves whenever an article pops up decrying said “drinking culture”: “Well, screw your useless opinion, I’m going to have a glass of wine!” This “women drink too much” opinion pisses people off. Yes, it exists as ONE more thing people like to pass judgment over, just another way outsiders try to dictate what we can and cannot do… But this race to stand up for yourself for what is essentially a bad habit also seems like a defensive strategy of people who feel they’re being personally attacked. “I can have a glass of wine or a beer and it doesn’t affect me/make me a bad person/mean I’m an alcoholic.” I can’t speak to the writers of those articles but I know for a fact, I’m not saying that, instead, I argue that we need to look at the bigger picture. If we substituted wine for say… vodka or cocaine… I think we’d be able to put this into perspective. “Mommy cocaine-snorting culture” does not have the same ring, but if we were all doing it… would they make birthday cards about it?

Yes, alcohol is legal. But a lot of things that are not necessarily good for us – when used to excess – are legal, like… um… SUGAR… but that doesn’t stop us from overindulging and suffering the consequences.

I know there are a lot of painfully insensitive people out there who will have some feelings about this but… alcoholism is a series problem and even as someone who is not an alcoholic I find the abundance of pro-alcohol messaging everywhere is dangerous and damaging to people who are suffering.

There could be a modicum of compassion (in general, I think society is lacking in compassion). We don’t need to have posts touting the best drinks for the season every season, or why you can’t live without this new [insert boozy product here]. When outlets like Buzzfeed are promoting listicles filled with products that help you sneak booze into places where there should be no booze… there’s a problem. Can you really not go that long without having a drink? I think that says more about you than you’re willing to admit. Maybe it’s time we took a long, hard look at our (and by OUR I mean SOCIETY because it might not be you in particular but we are complicit in our silence) relationship with booze.

Alcohol has become our collective crutch. We don’t need booze to have a good time. I see toddlers running around the park all the time and they aren’t drunk, even the ones who seem like they’re drunk aren’t drunk. You can say, “Kids don’t have the same kinds of stressors that we have.” and that would be true but also unfair because what the fuck is harder than growing up? Tell me that? Exactly.

At the end of the day, I don’t think the message we want to send to our kids is that the only way to deal with the problems of life is to reach for a bottle. Children are sponges and from a young age, they’re being bombarded with this message. A childless person may not give a shit about that, but that’s on them. I’ll get off the pulpit in a second, but parents have to decide what’s more important… defending our right to a glass or bottle of wine a night, or figuring out healthy ways to cope with the stressors of life so we can teach the children well and let them lead the way.

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