Mommy Wine Culture & Why I Won’t Endorse It (Anymore)

Let me start off by saying, this post is in no way a judgment on anyone! The purpose of this post is to share with you what my eyes have been opened too in the past week. 

A reckoning…

Last week, I witnessed something that opened my eyes to how slippery the slope can be. How easily we can slide from “Mommy needs wine” to Mommy is an alcoholic. And I was naive enough to think it couldn’t/wouldn’t happen to me. And I think anyone is naive for thinking it couldn’t happen to them. It can. To anyone of us. 

It’s something that has been on my radar for a while. I’ve been thinking about my own drinking habits and how they have changed over the years. And then this post from We Are The Humans popped up in my feed last month:

 And I didn’t like it! Not one bit. It made me uncomfortable. Mostly I think because the truth of it hit close to home. The more I thought about it and I even went so far as to research into it, the more I realized this sentiment rang true for me.

I have always enjoyed the occasional glass of wine. But somewhere during the course of the past few years, it stopped being occasional and started being a daily glass. Then a daily glass increased to two daily glasses and now I find myself in the position of feeling like I NEED a glass of wine to unwind. That there spells trouble to me. Especially when sitting opposite someone who had started out the same way as me. It’s a slippery slope and none of us are immune.

The culture of wine drinking mothers….

My husband has often commented on my need/desire to drink a glass or two of wine every night. I mostly shrugged it off, my feeling that all moms do it, so it’s normal and it’s ok right? 

I mean, we get assaulted by the normalcy of it everywhere. Log into Facebook or any social media platform and you’ll see adverts for bangles with hidden wine storage, or handbags that have a hidden wine tap. 

This is the current popular one I see being shared relentlessly across my timelines:

If I’d seen this a week ago, I probably would have laughed and shared it on too. Heck, for my That Girls T-shirt design, I was going to go with “My broomstick runs on wine”. I thought it was hilarious. I don’t anymore. 

Let’s Talk About It

So Nikki and I decided to do a two-way live chat on Instastories on Thursday evening.  We really just wanted to start the conversation and to raise awareness around this issue. The responses blew me away. So many women, so many moms struggling with exactly the same issues as we were. We decided to make it a no holds barred conversation and the response was incredible. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about why this has become such a prevalent issue for mothers in the last decade. I’m not really sure what the answer is, all that I can tell you is that from reading up and doing a little of my own research, alcoholism among women in their 30’s and upwards is on the increase and it’s reaching epidemic proportions. And I do think that all the funny wine memes add to the problem by normalizing the use of alcohol as a coping mechanism. 

I also wholeheartedly feel that as moms, we are under a huge amount of pressure. Perhaps more so than mothers in previous generations. I mean I’m not sure about you, but I constantly feel overwhelmed by the pressure of daily life and trying to juggle all the balls. Raising children has also changed SO much in the past few decades and our kids are under more pressure than they’ve ever been to perform. 

As an example, on Thursday evening before we went live, I almost called the whole thing off. I get home from work, I need to pack lunches for the following day, prep dinner and then of course there are all the extra things. Ava had a project that was due and Hannah had Easter Hat parade and Bakers Day the following day. so I have to cram SO much of my mothering into a few precious hours every evening. 

Finding Other Coping Mechanisms.

I’ve made a conscious decision since last weekend to examine the reasons why I drink. And, of course, to drink less. I am proud to say that in the past week, I’ve had a total of only 2 glasses of wine. I’ve also lost a kg. Go figure! 

It hasn’t been easy and I’ve had to work on changing my mindset. But sliding down that slippery slope is just not a risk I’m willing to take.

I found a couple of great resources online to help too:

A World Without Wine 

The Alchohol Experiment

Thank you to everyone who tuned into the live chat on Thursday and participated in the conversation and of course for all the messages of support and commiserations. Nikki and I will be doing a follow up live in a few weeks time because we both feel so passionately about keeping this conversation going. 

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic? 

43 Comments

  • MamaCat

    March 26, 2018 at 8:32 am

    I don’t ever drink because I do believe alcoholism is genetic and I don’t want to test that theory. As you point out, it is an easy thing to do and you think it is fine, until it is not fine. Some will say it is easy to judge from the sidelines and I find it hard not to do. I think it is a good eye-opening post, this.

    Reply
  • Luchae

    March 26, 2018 at 8:59 am

    AAAAAAAAACK! Love this and love the two of you for being brave enough to speak up! I agree with you on so many levels… we DONT NEED a coping mechanism… once you start relying on something to get you through the day, that thing becomes a crutch… a stronghold, if you will… and it gets harder and harder to shake it off. Pretty soon you find yourself addicted and you don’t know how on earth you got there. Bravo, ladies! Thank you for starting this convo.

    Reply
  • An Ordinary Gal

    March 26, 2018 at 9:22 am

    I must say, I see the memes…heck I’ve posted them, but I’m definitely not thinking that everybody posting them is boozing it up every day. I post wine memes every so often….I have probably had 3 glasses of wine this year so far in total. So I feel disconnected from this culture I think, because I just assume everybody is like me…my bark is way worse than my bite. I’m pretending I’m all wine-momming over here, but my reality is far far from it.

    I’ve grown up in a home with alcohol flowing freely and a dad that battled with alcoholism, so I make sure that is not a life my kids would ever be exposed to.

    I watched some of the live chat…the chat would stop at the same point for me so after 3 times I gave up 🙁 One thing that did resonate with me was when you ladies chatted about the playdate and having wine, then driving the kids home. Late last year we were invited to friends. The whole family. My husband was drinking…so was I..when I realised I had polished a bottle of wine. I was feeling really tipsy, and I had kids with me that needed to get home. I started drinking water…think I polished about 2L of it and about 2 to 3 hrs passed before I did drive…I felt sober by the time I drove, but I know a breathalyser would maybe not agree. Not my proudest moment, but it was the 1st and the last time it happened. I realised that day….how many parents don’t fall into this ‘trap’ and forget about that fact that they still need to get their kids home! That is definitely something I feel that we need to get the message out on as well. People picture the ‘don’t drink and drive’ campaign to be the man that was boozing it up at a pub, zig zagging in the road…not a suburban mom/dad that was just over at a friendly family braai.

    Reply
    • Sharon

      March 26, 2018 at 9:29 am

      A few people contacted me after the chat to say that while they weren’t wine drinking moms, they did also share the memes. That’s part of the problem, I think. Actually, there are two problems there.
      1. How entwined has motherhood and drinking become that even if we’re not a drinker, we assume all moms will relate, even if we don’t?
      2. It reinforces and normalizes alcoholism for many. It desensitizes as and makes us assume it’s normal.

      Reply
  • Denise Vd Merwe

    Denise Vd Merwe

    March 26, 2018 at 9:32 am

    This is such an important topic! I was absolutely on this path and totally gave up alcohol 8 months ago.
    It has completely changed everything…
    Despite what I was told, believed etc I am not a better mom after a glass of wine!

    Reply
  • Beryl

    March 26, 2018 at 9:52 am

    I’m so sorry I missed this conversation. My father was an alcoholic, dry for nearly 40 years by the time he died so I’ve always been aware that I and my kids could be at risk. And “mommy alcoholics” are by no means a new thing. My paternal grandmother was an alcoholic and so were several women of that same generation on my husbands side. Thank you for never being afraid to tackle these thorny issues straight on Sharon! Wine is a bit of a hobby for my husband and I but we don’t drink it every day. And doing a Whole30 last year I missed a nice strong cup of tea with milk way more than I missed a glass of wine!

    Reply
  • nunu5

    March 26, 2018 at 10:23 am

    I use wine as a treat to replace sugar as I am hoplessly addicted to sugar. So I would go for a chocolate rather than wine everytime but i cant, so now I have the wine which feels like a treat. But I do suppose we have normalised it, I try make a consious effort to never have more than 2 glasses even at a party but we seem to be in a glutonous society where it is always about more.

    Reply
  • Nicole Buchanan-Sparrow

    Nicole Buchanan-Sparrow

    March 26, 2018 at 7:21 pm

    Funnily enough it’s something that has concerned me for some time. I also refuse to partake of the Mommy Wine Club jokes and memes. I’m deeply concerned about it.
    My concern is it speaks to a bigger issue – what about modern life is so hard to cope with that mums and women need to reach for a glass (or a bottle – eeek!) to get through? What also prompts women to go from a glass or two to proudly knocking back a bottle a night?

    Reply
    • Nicole Buchanan-Sparrow

      Nicole Buchanan-Sparrow

      March 27, 2018 at 5:16 pm

      The Blessed Barrenness I’ll send you the link. It’s on Amazon and you can download it on Kindle. What’s also worth noting about this whole issue is the medical profession’s out-dated response to addressing this issue. The book refers to why AA doesn’t work for a lot of women, and how outdated the 12 Step programme is. The argument made by many experts is we’ve moved on in our approach to cancer treatment, heart disease and so on, but we rely on an outdated, unscientific approach to dealing with alcoholism.

      Reply
  • Shell

    March 26, 2018 at 9:25 pm

    Being brought up by a “ functional alcohol” I barely drink, purely because I’m genuinely concerned that one glass a night will end up in a bottle a night, like my mom still does at 70!

    Reply
  • Kay

    March 27, 2018 at 6:48 am

    My youngest sister commented on our memes and jokes on our family whatsapp group and we took great offence.
    Just to discover that we have an alcoholic mommy in our group already and others sliding dangerously down that slope.
    We owe my sister an apology

    Reply
  • Yvette Hess

    Yvette Hess

    March 27, 2018 at 7:53 am

    As an alcoholic, I’m very aware of these messages. I touch on it in my latest blogpost. I was that mom who needed wine o’clock because I couldn’t cope. I was overwhelmed and I needed my coping strategy. I’m sober now, still overwhelmed many a time, but I feel different. I have noticed though that people get offended if I mention I don’t drink anymore or that I’m alcoholic – it has nothing to do with them. But this topic is so relevant because a lot of these types of coping strategies are dangerous and you end with addictions. And then just like that these addictions are endorsed by memes.

    Reply
    • Laverne Botha

      Laverne Botha

      March 27, 2018 at 8:03 am

      So True Yvette. We need a coping mechanisms. Parenting and running a family can become like a pressure cooker and if you do not have the coping skills or anyone to turn to take the pressure off sometimes.

      Modern mom’s also have alot more pressure. With full time jobs and not much of a “village” anymore. There are no at home grannies anymore as grannies are working too. I can honestly say I don’t know how mom’s who are in my position without the financial means to pay for more support cope with more than one child. Saying that alcohol is just instant gratification that can easily get out of control.

      Reply
    • Yvette Hess

      Yvette Hess

      March 27, 2018 at 8:09 am

      Yes agreed!

      It happened so easily for me. And we have alcoholics in the family. I knew I didn’t want that for myself but it happened.

      The other day I asked an artist who lives here and owns a shop (also the kids) when the hell do you shower?

      Because I’m going to be honest- most days are a rush. And fly by. Self love seems so optional – like a spoil. No wonder I drank so much (up to two bottles of merlot a day). I say with shame and guilt and feelings of insignicance. And I know I wasn’t alone.

      Reply
  • Laverne Botha

    Laverne Botha

    March 27, 2018 at 7:53 am

    My mother never touched alcohol to help her parent or hardly ever. Alcohol was strictly for celebrations. She was a VERY highly strung woman and shouted and punished us ALOT. So I get why people use alcohol to cope. Parenting can be so all consuming even more so if you are a single parent or have a partner that is very checked out leaving mothers to shoulder all the responsibility. As I became and adult and mother I got exposed to many who do this and it’s always a joke and honestly I myself did not think it was a big deal. Now that I read your post, I can identify a few of my friends that use alcohol to “check out”. Also the more I get into nutrition and health, Its alarming how many woman say they can’t seem to give up alcohol.

    Reply
    • Yvette Hess

      Yvette Hess

      March 27, 2018 at 7:56 am

      People don’t want to call it addictions because it’s ugly. Same as stigmas surrounding mental illness. Anxiety disorders go untreated because no one wants to say it’s a mental illness.

      Alcoholics aren’t always drunk or look like drunkards all the time.

      People don’t want to admit they have a problem. Facing the truth is scary. So let’s joke about it instead.

      Reply
    • Nicole Buchanan-Sparrow

      Nicole Buchanan-Sparrow

      March 27, 2018 at 5:20 pm

      You say that – I was recently discussing the issue with my partner and said, our parents didn’t drink like this. He chuckled and said, “No, they just knocked the sh*t out of us.” (They really didn’t knock us around, 🙂 but it was an off-the-cuff response that summed up the issue for me. It’s a coping mechanism.)

      Reply
  • Chané Wolmarans

    Chané Wolmarans

    March 27, 2018 at 1:05 pm

    I don’t drink much at all. So for me it has always been an issue. Especially in life where I know people whom disagree and feel it is perfectly normal to drink 1 or 2 everyday. They say it is me who has a problem with alcohol rather than alcohol being the real problem

    Reply
  • Coins in a Jar

    Coins in a Jar

    March 27, 2018 at 2:57 pm

    I echo Yvette Hess here. I too got way too carried away with wine and mommy juice and all those memes making us feel that it was ok and right and it isn’t. Today is my 8th month of being alcohol free and LOVING it! and this is my blog all about my journey.

    Reply
  • biancaerasmus

    March 28, 2018 at 12:55 pm

    Not a mom, but as a tutor I listen to what my learners say. I never judge when they say: “Mommy had a lot of wine at my friend’s party” but it does concern me. I love that the topic came up and that is being spoken about. Thanks for starting it!

    Reply
  • Erika

    March 28, 2018 at 4:00 pm

    Wanted to comment on this way, way back when you did a post on how to host the perfect kiddies party…and a key ingredient was “wine for the mom’s”.
    One of my biggest issues with this mommy wine culture is – what type of example we are setting our children? “Now kids, when you turn teenagers, don’t start drinking etc. but whatch mommy down a few glasses at any party, because that’s the only way mommy can relax and enjoy social gatherings”… And then we are shocked when our teenagers drink!

    Reply

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