Wine and motherhood seem to go together like, well, wine and motherhood. Every time I turn around, there seems to be another wine meme floating around with snappy taglines such as, “The most expensive part of having kids is all the wine you have to drink,” and, “A mother’s sacrifice isn’t giving birth. It’s 9 months without wine.”
Now, I get it, it’s supposed to be funny; our kids our driving us crazy and we need wine to cope. I can hear the comments before they’re written: lighten up already.
But here’s the thing: If you grew up with adults who really did need alcohol or other drugs to cope, it isn’t funny. For me, it’s scary. It brings back memories of out-of-control nights and hung-over mornings. I go right back to feeling the way I did as a little girl: anxious, confused, and hyper-vigilant.
Now that I’m no longer monitoring other people’s drinking, I use my super-vigilance-skills to monitor my own drinking: one glass of wine with dinner, rarely a second, never a third. I can nurse a single glass of wine for hours. Often, I’ll stop drinking altogether, just to prove to myself that I can. While my husband enjoys a guilt-free beer after work, I’ll opt for milk or water; I am always watching myself, waiting for the addiction genes to catch up with me, and looking for ways to thwart them.
I’m not the only one who’s uncomfortable with this cultural phenomenon. In the last couple of years, I’ve read several great books describing the growing acceptance of women’s binge drinking and the ways that alcohol companies have cleverly marketed their products so as to appeal to young women as they are beginning their adult lives. Get ‘em young, and you’ll have them for life.
I’m not OK with any of it. I want to be able to spend time with people and enjoy their company without having to feel like the point of the evening is drinking. It feels like, too often, mom events are focused on the wine: drink and paint, drink and shop, drink and get a manicure, t-shirts emblazoned with “wine-drinking team”—I could go on. And I get it, I really do, I should learn to lighten up… it’s a joke already. The trouble is, I can’t.
So I won’t be liking your wine meme, it’s just not in me.
Two of my favorite books about women and alcohol: “Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol” by Ann Dowsett Johnson and “Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget” by Sarah Hepola.