When I had my first child, almost 10 years ago, I got sucked into a “Stay-At-Home Mommy World” where our days were filled with playgroups, library storytimes and happy hours that involved drinking my face off.
Not since college, had I experienced that level of drinking or experienced a bizarro level of acceptance surrounding binge drinking.
This is how it started:
In an effort to get out of the house and put on real clothes, I signed up for a weekly playgroup for babies. The playgroup met at a different person’s house in my neighborhood one morning a week. As the weeks went by, I realized that there was a subgroup that had formed–a subgroup of the “cool moms” who met up outside of the playgroup on Friday afternoons.
I eventually got an invite to join this Friday “exclusive” playgroup and I had mixed feelings. For starters, there were a few moms that I didn’t jibe with who went to this Friday playgroup, so I wasn’t too eager to mix and mingle with them any more than necessary.
But, this playgroup was called a “Happy Hour Playgroup,” and, (at the time) being a drinker myself, I was interested in joining a group who made social drinking a habit. Sign me up.
My first “Happy Hour” playgroup was just what I expected. Several of my least-favorite moms were in attendance, but the drinks were flowing briskly, so I was all-in. Additionally, I got to know a few other moms there whom I found that I rather enjoyed, so all was not lost.
Bonus points for the fact that my then-toddler was able to play with someone else’s kid’s toys for a few hours on a Friday afternoon, thereby entertaining herself while all of the mommies drank lots of champagne.
What I quickly saw happening though, was that during these playgroups, the conversation always turned to the entitled rants and whines of the upwardly-mobile moms in the group. Such as, complaints about housekeepers and nannies and annoying things that their husbands did–like golfing all day on Saturday, in order to increase their odds of making partner at the law firm. The conversations got more and more entitled and whiny the more that the moderately-priced champagne flowed.
More and more, I realized that I didn’t belong with these ladies. I saw a lot of “keeping up with the Joneses”-type of behaviors happening and I knew very well that I could not keep up with the Joneses (nor did I really want to). But the alcohol gave me the tolerance that I needed to endure these playdates and the courage to admit that no, I don’t have a vacation home at the beach <insert gasps of shock here>.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how it’s become so acceptable for moms to drink. You see it everywhere. I finally watched “Bad Moms” over the weekend, and, while I enjoyed it, I saw the same theme in that movie. “Moms deserve to get drunk. A lot.”
Moms are always portrayed as being so desperate for that much-deserved glass of wine after a long day of “mom-ing.” And they’re encouraged by loud cheers of, “You deserve it!” On Facebook, I see people talking about needing their “Mommy Juice” to cope with a day spent parenting. There are even specialty wine glasses promoting the (not so) cutesy saying:
Absolutely being a mom is the hardest job on the planet. It can be equal-parts brain-numbing and challenging all at the same time. It takes more patience than most of us have in our stores and it involves bodily fluids and the chance of getting said bodily fluids caked into your hair on a weekly basis
But, I see so many moms numbing it all out–tamping it down–with alcohol. You’ve maybe given up a successful career; your body isn’t looking the way that you’d hoped it would after giving birth; your relationship with your spouse is changed and broken in new and different ways. All are exceedingly good reasons to lose yourself in the bottle. Believe me: I fell for it too. I deserved those Friday afternoon drinks (which led to Friday evening drinks at home or at dinner–which led to bleary, fuzzy, Saturday mornings, which led to more drinking on Saturday evening…).
Now I’m experiencing “mom-ing” without alcohol and, folks, I’m here to say that it’s possible.
Frankly, I’m pretty pissed off that drinking has become so acceptable and encouraged among the mom-crowds. I know you’re lonely. I know it’s hard, but there are better, more healthy ways of dealing with these feelings of inadequacy…trust me. Drinking isn’t going to make it better. In fact, it’s going to make it way worse if you’re not careful. I wish someone out there would say, “Hey, drinking isn’t the answer, honey. Let’s go for a walk and talk…” instead of offering up more cheap Pinot Grigio.
It’s possible to be a mom–to even be social–and not drink. I don’t need any “Mommy Juice” to tolerate this super-privileged opportunity that I’ve been given to parent my kids and, frankly, neither do you. If you can’t bear the idea of facing another day of “mom-ing” without the help of your “Mommy Juice” maybe there’s a bit more to your story. And perhaps you should address that STAT, otherwise, don’t be basic. Your kids are watching. Your peers are watching. You’re better than that…