Something is weighing heavy on me so I am just going to say it. Look, we can be moms and we can drink but we don’t need to drink to be moms. You know?
I had no idea what an impact the drinking mom culture was having on me. In fact, I thought it was innocent and mostly funny. I liked the t shirts, the letterboards, the memes, and the coffee mugs. It made me feel much better about my situation. It helped me justify my drinking. I was able to say the beloved words “everyone else is doing it.”
Now I know that not “everyone” is doing it and that most of the women making these claims probably have no idea the impact that kind of narrative has. They probaby aren’t over doing it. They probably aren’t blacking out. They probably aren’t waking up to shame and guilt. They probably aren’t overcome with anxiety. And they have probably never been oppressed by drugs or alcohol. Or, maybe they are but they have bought the same parenting=drinking crap that I bought.
I mean, anyone who has really “Rose’d all Day” (yes I turned that into a verb) can tell you that it isn’t cute or silly. I know this because I’ve been there. It starts out as a dainty pink wine on a beautiful spring day and turns into slurring, sobbing, a lost purse, a bruised knee, and a massive headache.
Why did I think it was funny to tell new moms that they should drink when they feel stressed with parenting? When did I start giving all of my power to alcohol when the going gets tough? How did I believe that using a harmful, highly addictive, depressant to make me feel better would work? And honestly, what’s so silly about being drunk and taking care of your kids?
I get it. Moms know that parenting is really hard. It’s isolating. There’s so much pressure and we feel like we’re not good enough, not worthy, and we’re insecure about so many decisions. We’re not all on the same page and so it can be really tough to support another’s moms’ choices when they can sometimes be so very different from your own. That creates divide.
But wine? I guess that’s something that we can all get behind. So many women have that in common and so it’s a place for moms to be neutral. Regardless of their specific parenting choices at least there’s still “common ground” and that feels good.
But is it really common ground for all moms?
As I look back I remember a time when I was very disconnected from this concept. I was volunteering with a group of women who were struggling with issues with drugs and alcohol. They were all moms and in some cases their children had been removed from their care because of lack of safety. Many of them were living in treatment facilities that focused on symptoms of addiction and how to “get clean.”
Once I attended a meeting at their group home. There was a lot of talk about sobriety and “staying clean.” At one point we held hands and prayed about being strong sober women. I remember thinking, oh this is good for “them.”
I was truly moved by the women, their stories, and the hardships they had to overcome. I held their babies and patted their backs and said “helpful” things like “you’re doing so great.” One woman stated that she had never been supported by another woman. Never. Not a mother, a close aunt, an older female friend, or a teacher.
When I got home I remember cracking open a few drinks and processing my experience with my husband. I had three or four beers, passed out, and slept through the night without a care in the world.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that drinking and parenting was something I had in common with these women. What I didn’t have in common was socioeconomic status, history of trauma, lack of support, less education, and a whole other host of bad luck leading to their situation. I had quite the opposite which is why my circumstances looked a lot different from theirs.
It would be fine (or even cute) for me to wear the t-shirts or post the memes on social media because I hadn’t been in trouble. I didn’t put my kids in danger (or at least to the point of having to have someone intervene). I didn’t make bad choices (according to society) and I didn’t live in a treatment facility. So I could crack jokes and make fun at my drinking without anyone batting an eye.
But what if these women wore a shirt that said Mommy’s Sippy Cup? How would society view them?
I have all the help, money, support, and access to resources that I could ever need and I still found myself using alcohol to numb the fact that I was scared, exhausted, terrified, and agitated with being a mom. I wish there were as many memes and shirts encouraging community, magnifying parenting strengths, and giving a message of support. Maybe I would have had a different mindset?
As I scroll through pinterest there are so many quotes, posters, signs, wine glasses, and tshirts. “The most expensive part of having kids is all the wine we have to drink.” “They whine I wine.” “It takes zero effort to love your kids but a glass of wine to tolerate them.” “Wine Wednesday, it’s like Taco Tuesday but for Moms.”
Dad’s don’t do this. Dad’s don’t send each other messages that say let’s get drunk so we can take care of our kids. Dad’s don’t minimize their parenting skills to needing alcohol to get through. Dad’s don’t appear to require substances to parent. Why are we disempowering ourselves?
I think we can do better. There’s no doubt that we need common ground and support. But maybe our shirts and slogans should say things like “Therapy All Day” or “Let’s Get a Babysitter” (which are also limited options for some moms). Those don’t seem as cute do they?
Let’s empower each other. Not just some of the moms but all of the moms. Let’s stop telling the world that the only way we can do hard things is by being drunk. Because it’s not true. We are so much better and stronger.
I am not saying to make it look easy. And I am certainly not suggesting that we can’t have fun and crack some jokes at how hard this is. And maybe there is wine involved. But there’s SOOOO much more. Let’s be true, authentic, and real. We probably have a lot more in common than wine (like anxiety, stress, hurt, exhaustion, and all the things leading us to the wine to begin with). Can we find that as common ground instead?