Scrolling through social media this year has made me realize just how prevalent and normalized mommy wine culture has become. It makes a special kind of sense this past year as every parenting challenge has been exasperated by the pandemic. Parenting in a normal, functioning society is hard. This is so much harder.
First, let me start by saying that I am a mom and yes, I enjoy the occasional glass of wine or cocktail. This article isn’t about saying you can’t have a casual drink but is to rather look at the way parents are coping and looking at the bigger cultural issue of inequity and challenges in child rearing. I wanted to write about this topic as I see more and more advertising and social media glorifying “Mommy needs a vodka,” “its wine thirty” or jokingly saying this is “mommy juice.” Yes, these are sarcastic and funny in nature, but I think there is a huge point we are missing. We are failing to acknowledge the quiet suffering parents experience. This year, like none other, has pushed many parents to the breaking point. The difficult task of child rearing has been complicated by COVID-19, lack of childcare/in person schooling, disruption of schedules, increased isolation from our support system, income changes, and the stress of political unrest. Parents are tired and mothers in particular are leaving their jobs at alarming rates to try to manage this new way of life. Things are so hard right now; Mamas and Papas I see you! I see the struggle, the exhaustion, the fear and the grief.
Let’s look at this Mommy wine culture, the pros? Well, moms (and partners) feel like they can have a social network and have a drink or two together. This allows for community and validation. These are so important! The cons? Increased alcohol consumption is not that great for our bodies. Dietary Guidelines define moderate alcohol consumption at 1 drink daily for women and 2 drinks daily for men. Many moms/parents share that they feel more relaxed and calmer when drinking, however we know that alcohol can in truth increase anxiety and depression. It is by nature a nervous system depressant. While the initial effect feels great the rebound effect can exacerbate those bad feelings and perpetuate a dangerous cycle. Alcohol disrupts sleep quality; we know that parents are already significantly sleep deprived and this numbing out by self-medicating with alcohol can actually impact the way you bond with your children and partners. Perhaps the biggest disgrace about this wine culture, is that we are ignoring the pleas from the primary caregiver asking for more help, the unanswered cries of “I can’t do this anymore,” “I can’t cope,” “I no longer know who I am…” “I need a drink!”
So, what can we do?
- Let’s really talk about the challenges of parenting- there is no one book, and no child is the same as another, and the demands of the world are changing dramatically.
- Let’s get back to the community; it does take a village! Find your Covid-19 Pod and stick with it, get support over the phone, let’s support each other. Make a meal or offer to pick up some groceries for a parent who is struggling,
- Let’s normalize and use healthy coping skills- time with friends (facetime with friends), Journal, exercise, eat nutritious food, listen to music, etc.
- Ask for help and advocate for your needs. Talk to your partner about getting uninterrupted “me” time or how to get more support at home. Seek out individual and or couple’s therapy. Connect with a support group.
- Check in with yourself. Am I drinking more? Are my kids noticing my drinking habits? Do I need a drink or two or more to just get through my day? Am I feeling negative toward my child(ren) and spouse? Am I feeling sad or anxious most of the time?
This is such a challenging time to be a parent. I see you moms and all parents. It is okay to not be okay right now and it is okay to ask for help when you need it. You are not alone.