We are surrounded by the mommy wine culture daily. Shirts that say “I run on coffee and wine.” Memes of moms with glasses of wine bigger than their heads. “The most expensive part of having kids is all the wine you have to drink”. “They whine, I wine”. “Wine to moms is what duct tape is to dads; it fixes everything”. Cute, funny, but also normalizing alcoholism.
What’s so wrong with the idea of “Mommy needs a drink?”
Well, if you need to do anything to function or feel normal, it’s a problem. It’s as simple as that. I get it—parenthood is stressful and alcohol helps take the edge off. I’m not saying that you can’t go have a few glasses if you’ve had a rough day. But the problem is when it’s all you can think about when 5 o’clock hits. If you can’t handle your children unless you have a slight buzz.
I first recognized I needed to set some boundaries for myself when I realized I was buying a new box of wine every Thursday. That is the equivalent of four bottles of wine a week by myself. My gut was telling me that it wasn’t ok, but society kept saying it was normal. The overall message was alcohol was the only way to get through motherhood without losing it.
My heaviest drinking started when my daughter was two and my husband was working night shifts. I work full time, and work plus solo parenting for 6-8 weeks plus was overwhelming. It started with a glass every night and progressed to three and four as my tolerance adjusted. I started getting stomach aches, and my body was screaming at me for a detox.
I started trying to not drink during the week and found it quite difficult.
I’m ashamed to say that I was proud of myself the first time I went three days in a row without a glass of wine in the evenings. It was a true mental struggle that I had to push through, and I know I am not alone in the struggle.
When I started doing yoga I realized I didn’t crave my evening glass of wine like I had before, and it all clicked. There were plenty of ways for me to keep my stress at bay without drinking. Yoga, exercise or letting myself have a special non-alcoholic beverage treat when I got home. Yep. I actually swapped my wine for a Lacroix during the weekdays. It was a natural fit, as it’s what I would drink at parties when I was pregnant, and so far it’s been helpful.
Society trains us that when we have a stressful day, we need a drink. We deserve one.
And that works great until you have kids. Because when you become a parent, every day is a stressful day. We need to start helping equip people with ways to handle their stress outside of alcohol. There’s a huge focus on educating college kids about drinking at parties, so why not at this stage in life? I can promise that alcohol has been a much bigger part of my life now that I’m a mom than it ever was in my college partying days. Drinking every day is very different than overdoing it at weekend parties.
Alcohol is the only drug on earth that you have to justify not taking. Isn’t that weird? Not drinking, especially as a mom, can make you a social outcast. You are always having to explain yourself, and people think it’s weird. I’m happy to say that I have a large number of friends who have decided to cut alcohol out because of what it was doing to them. For that, I am so proud, and they will be part of a huge shift that needs to happen.
I’m happy to say that I caught on to the issue before it became a big enough problem and forced me to cut it out completely. Alcohol is still a pretty big part of our lives, as my husband is a professional beer brewer. We have a nano-brewery in our garage and six homebrews on tap at all times. There’s always going to be temptation. I can still go to breweries, or have a glass of wine on the back patio in the sunshine.
I’m no longer craving the idea of locking myself in a room with my box of wine to get through the evening.
I urge you to take a look into your wine consumption. Are you doing it to enjoy yourself or to function? Can you have three glasses and not even feel it? Be honest with yourself. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, and you deserve to have a healthy relationship with your booze.