When I posted “Mommy Juice” here on the blog, it was warmly received, because in a way, I’m “preaching to the choir” here. Then, when it went out on Red Tricycle’s page, it was met with resistance–a lot of it. Many women said that I was “judging” them for drinking and that, “just because I can’t drink doesn’t mean that everyone should abstain.”
Honestly, I was a bit gobsmacked by the resistance. It hadn’t occurred to me that it would be such a divisive topic and it forced me to explore the question: “Am I judging moms who drink too harshly?”
I’ve thought a lot about it in the past couple of weeks and, honestly I think my answer is that I’m not judging other moms–I’m judging our society–and when I wrote “Mommy Juice” I wasn’t able to properly articulate that.
You see, when I was a new mom, I fell for that same schtick. You know, the “have a bottle of wine–you deserve it after the day you’ve had!”-schtick. Now that I’ve seen that that way of thinking can be really destructive, I have strong feelings about it. What I wanted to say in “Mommy Juice” was–“don’t be like me!”
But here’s the thing: I’m not talking about the moms who have the occasional glass of wine. Hell, I’m not even talking about the moms who have a glass of wine every day to unwind once the kids go to bed nor am I talking about the moms who go out and get wasted on girls’ night or in Vegas with their partners.
I’m talking about the moms who are lonely and feeling “off,” who are self medicating with alcohol and are slowly losing control of things.
According to WebMD, it’s estimated that anywhere from 10-20% of new mothers experience postpartum depression. Of those cases, only half of them seek treatment. This means that half of those ladies aren’t getting the help that they need from a doctor and are potentially self-medicating with drugs and alcohol.
Even though doctors have come a long way in terms of asking the right questions and opening up the dialogue with new moms about feelings of postpartum depression, there’s still a stigma attached to that diagnosis. Motherhood is funny like that. You spend so much of your time second-guessing yourself and wondering if you’re qualified to be the caretaker of a baby. Then, if you’re having even mild feelings of sadness, you’re not bonding with the baby; you’re wondering if you should even be doing this at all…well, it’s embarrassing to tell someone that–even your trusted doctor.
So, yeah. I’m not judging moms. I’m judging our culture that demands that new mothers do it all perfectly and love every minute of it and then leave them woefully ill-equipped with support when it’s needed. When that happens, “Mommy’s Little Friend” becomes wine and it’s encouraged and heralded as a cure-all for moms at the end of their rope.
I think what I meant to convey is this: I’d for like our culture to take us more seriously. To give us more credit for who we are and what we do for our families. Offering us yet another glass of cheap wine after a hard day feels like a patronizing pat on the head. I think what I’m really angry about is that mothers have become caricatures. Easily plied with wine and simple in our needs, when that’s not the case at all and this attitude is harmful for many.
There. I feel better now.
I’d love to hear your take on this. Do you think that I judged moms who drink too harshly?