This post has been months in the making, coming out of me in bursts of voice memos and emails to myself. I’ve been avoiding writing it. I’m afraid that it will piss people off, and even more afraid that it will be completely ignored. But part of committing to listen to my intuition means when it comes knocking, I gotta answer. And it’s time we talk about one of the most pervasive archetypes in modern mom culture...
Wine Drinking Mom.
You may know exactly what I’m talking about, but just in case here’s what she looks like:
(and let’s be clear, I’m talking about a persona, not a person. While this character shows up in the women I’ve included below, that is certainly not all of who they are.)
- Wine Drinking Mom probably owns this .
- She’s the one who will joke about bringing wine to the playdate, and sometimes actually brings it.
- She loves all of the “I need wine to parent” memes, like this, and this, and this one (which is actually really funny), and this.
- Wine Drinking Mom is here in the hilarious ladies of the “I Mom So Hard” videos, who almost always have a drink in hand.
- Wine Drinking Mom makes a lot of jokes about parenting, and complains a lot about how hard it is. She can be a serious martyr, but holy smokes does she ever love her kids.
Now to be very clear, I have nothing against drinking, or wine, or any alcohol for that matter. Well, except tequila…….that’s right, I’m talking to you tequila. You know what you did.
But I am against anything that keeps us unconscious, and what I'm noticing is that Wine Drinking Mom is becoming a widely accepted way of being. Of course being a mom is tough! Here, have a glass of wine. You deserve it.
We are normalizing drinking as a strategy to make it through all the hard parts of parenting. And when we use any kind of crutch to avoid our experience, that is the definition of going unconscious.
“When I talk to clients, what I hear most often is that they really need to take the edge off at the end of the day. Alcohol is a quick and easy fix if you want to change how you feel. So when they say they want to take the edge off I’ll ask, “What is that edge? What do you need relief from?” Then we focus on untangling what that edge is.” - Rachel Hart
The supreme loneliness of motherhood is one that still surprises me. How is it that I am surrounded by people 24/7, all of them needing something from me and talking to me continuously, and yet I can feel so incredibly lonely?
And the boredom. And the isolation. And the feeling of constantly disappointing someone. And then layer on all of the pressure to love every minute of it, and the guilt I feel when I don’t.
Of course we want to take that edge off! Those feelings are painful and if we don’t have a practice to work through them, if we believe we’re not capable of handling them when they come up, then drowning them in wine (or coffee, or chocolate, or Instagram, or The Bachelor) is obviously an appealing solution.
“Of course not all drinking is problematic. There is definitely a way to enjoy a glass of wine and have it be really relaxing. But that’s the question to ask - is this relaxing me or numbing me? Are you trying to distract yourself from something bigger? Look at how you act and feel while you’re doing it. If your desire feels urgent, if you’re focused on getting a lot of it in and fast, if you finished a whole glass and you barely tasted it, then you might be numbing.” - Rachel Hart
Wine Drinking Mom is an incredibly dangerous character because she wears a lot of disguises, one of the most prevalent being the guise of self-care. Every mom knoooooows we’re supposed to take care of ourselves, right? So I’m just gonna slip on my Snuggie, curl up on the couch, drink an entire bottle of Pinot, and consider my tank filled. #nailedit
The persona also has a “Zero F*cks” feminist edge to it, which can feel like empowerment, but it isn’t. Wine Drinking Mom is just one more way we’re keeping ourselves down - when she’s in charge we are distant, distracted, and anesthetized. She makes us a punchline.
Yes, of course a glass of wine can be nourishing. But not all the time. Sometimes what’s needed can’t be found at the bottom of a bottle.
If You’re Thinking About Taking a Break……
“There is deep, historical morality stuff around alcohol. People can get really defensive and bent out of shape if you threaten to take away their alcohol.” - Rachel Hart
I’m not going to tell you what to do because this post isn’t about offering solutions. All I want to do is shine a light on this issue then stand back and let you build your own awareness around something that you may not have noticed before.
I don’t drink anymore. For me, wine just stopped tasting good. It made me angry and irritable, and having a hangover with three kids is the worst! I also really like having clear access to my brain; alcohol made me foggy and I didn’t like it.
When I was talking to Rachel Hart, interviewing her for this blog post, she asked me what I tell people when they ask why I’m not drinking. So I told her.
I say things like, “Oh, I’m not drinking tonight,” or “I’m the designated driver,” or I pour myself something sparkly and just pretend it’s a drink. I didn’t consciously realize I was doing this until Rachel asked, and what I realized as I gave her my answer is that I lie because I don’t want to explain myself. I don’t want people to think I’m being judgmental of their drinking. I don’t want to be misunderstood or kicked out of the mom club for being weird.
If everyone is walking one way, and you turn around and walk in the other direction, it forces everyone around you to question whether or not they’re going the right way. You become a mirror for them, and that can bring up all kinds of stuff - curiosity, disbelief, disinterest, and defensiveness.
Why did she turn around? What does she know that I don’t? Screw her, I’m not turning around; I like the way I’m going. Wait…..do I?
And this is how consciousness evolves - one step at a time, becoming aware of our choices, and then deciding which way we want to go.
I interviewed Rachel Hart for the quotes in this blog post. Not to be confused with my partner-in-crime here at Unlearning Supermom, Rachel Butler. I had my own thoughts on this topic, but wanted to include Rachel’s perspective as an expert.
Rachel Hart coaches women who want to reduce their desire to drink and be able to relax, have fun, and feel confident without a glass in their hand. Check her out at www.rachelhart.com/podcast