When does a joke about moms drinking to get through motherhood – and the current coronavirus pandemic – cross the line? Is it when her friends are on the verge of alcoholism? Or maybe when the tumblers engraved with the words “mommy juice” just aren’t that entertaining any longer when it takes more than a few of those to get through the day?
Just in the last couple years, the infiltration of the Mommy Wine Culture into our society has caught the attention of most media outlets and Facebook memes of teaching kids fractions while homeschooling using wine glasses half full, a quarter full, etc. are going viral on social media. This culture needs to go. It demeans mothers, encouraging them to hit the bottle when they can’t handle their kids, yet it devalues children as well, telling them they are just so burdensome that mom needs to drink to get through motherhood.
I’m not against the occasional glass of wine, which is different from downing a bottle a night just to relax. High-risk drinking, defined as drinking four or more drinks a day for women and exceeding that amount weekly for a year, is up by 58% among women according to a 2017 study by JAMA Psychiatry that compared drinking habits between 2001-2002 and 2012-2013. A study released this year from the same organization is alarming, showing the “the steepest increases in the rates of alcohol-induced deaths among white individuals in our study population occurred among younger adults [ages 25-34], particularly women.”
There are other ways to cope with this insane pandemic and the inevitable challenges of motherhood that don’t involve alcohol. When the culture tells mothers that imbibing daily is an acceptable way to handle the difficulties that children present, it enables them to miss out on the lives of their kids because they are too buzzed or drunk.
Children are noticing
Children don’t miss much when it comes to watching and listening to their parents. They notice when mom has a glass, or several, of wine every night. They notice when she wears a t-shirt that says “mama needs some wine”. And they notice when her attention is focused on just getting through the day, or through all of motherhood, instead of finding more constructive ways to handle her vocation. What message are children getting from mothers who proudly proclaim their love of drinking to get through a tough day with their kids – and encourage other moms to do the same?
It tells kids they are burdensome, that they are just too hard, just too challenging, too difficult. Motherhood is a blessing. Our children are blessings. Yes, they can be difficult. Yes, they can absolutely push us to our limits. Yet parenthood is the most self-sacrificial way of life we can choose. And receiving the gift of a child is a beautiful, unrepeatable blessing.
It’s okay to have bad days as a mother, to be frustrated, to not have it all together. Dealing with whiny, ungrateful children is a part of the self-sacrificial journey of parenthood. It’s the choice to turn to alcohol on a daily basis to take the edge off and numb those feelings of anger and frustration where motherhood takes a wrong turn.
Frustration over judgement for staying sober
I have friends who are more frustrated by the fact that they have to defend their choice not to drink during playdates than they are with the constant demands of their little ones. One mom wrote not long ago in the Washington Post how isolating it is to be sober, wondering if her kid would get any playdates, if other moms would think she was boring. Why should a mom feel any shame whatsoever for turning down a mimosa at a 10 am playdate with friends? Turning to friends who share the same challenges of raising children should be self-care. Drinking daily as a mother is not self-care; it’s functional alcoholism.
Again, motherhood is hard but it’s also a blessing. I don’t like the idea that we have to be drunk to get through it, that we need some kind of relaxant or sedative to get through parenthood. Tumblers filled with alcohol that bear the words “mommy’s sippy cup” aren’t funny. Neither are ridiculous t-shirts that try to joke about moms needing wine just to get through the day. Children see this kind of behavior whether we realize it or not.
Society needs to stop encouraging alcoholism
When society encourages functional alcoholism among mothers because it’s the cool thing to do, it’s not only mothers who will suffer the physical, mental, and spiritual consequences – it’s our children who will feel devalued and feel like they are a burden to their parents.
We aren’t seeing our children as our heritage, as the gift they are to us when we encourage the Mommy Wine Culture. It needs to stop before mothers risk missing out on the lives of their children because they are too drunk to notice them.