After a long, difficult day we all need to relax and unwind. This is self-care and how we do that will vary from one person to the next. There is no denying that this “me” time is helpful, both for us as individuals and for us as members of a family. We may schedule a manicure or massage, draw a bath, go for a walk, read, or pour a drink. But can what seems like self-care be a hidden trap? Before you ask someone to pass that mommy juice, hear me out on this.
What is Mommy Wine Culture?
We’ve likely all heard or seen it. This is the “mommy needs a glass of wine” memes, “mommy juice” and “this might be vodka” cups, and obscenely large glasses that fit an entire bottle of wine (only half meant as a joke). On the surface they may seem funny and/or relatable, especially after a long day. But they are not. Motherhood is hard – I totally get that and I am not trying to minimize that. But alcohol dependency is real; we cannot discount that either. And it is a lot easier to slide down that slope than you may think.
It is important to point out that this “mommy wine culture” is not enjoying a glass of wine with dinner, or having a margarita or beer when you’re at a bar-b-que or party. It is the literal banding together of women who need to drink because of mom life. I hope that distinction is clear.
Why is it dangerous to pass the mommy juice?
We all cope with stress in different ways. And, in our society, drinking alcohol at the end of the day has become ‘acceptable,’ especially for parents. Some moms worry about feeling awkward if they don’t drink when they are out with other moms! That fear of isolation honestly breaks my heart. Finding “mom friends” is hard enough! Not to mention we wouldn’t make someone feel ostracized for other personal choices they make (like Starbucks or Dunkin, yoga pants or jeans). So why do people find memes like this amusing?
If you feel like you need the drink, take a moment. “Need” implies necessity and if something is necessary, it is often helpful. So will that drink address the reason for the need? Will it make the problem any more surmountable when it happens again (likely the next day, especially if you have a toddler)? No, it won’t.
Also, if you are breastfeeding, it is important to remember that no amount of alcohol is safe to consume while breastfeeding. This is not meant as judgment. It is recognized by Mayo Clinic as best practice. That saying, “sober enough to drive, sober enough to nurse” is misleading. It refers to being able to safely handle your baby after you’ve had a libation or two, not the safety of nursing your baby with alcohol in your system.
What do we really need?
If you are one to say “I need a wine/beer/margarita/etc” do you pour your cup and continue corralling kids, drink in hand? Probably not. You probably want to be: in bed, in front of the tv, in the tub. Feeling we need a drink is a manifestation of the need for space and alone time.
We need, as a society, to become more comfortable asking for help when it comes to our mental health. Effectively asking our partners, family, friends, or community for the support that will most help. We need self care. This can be as simple as:
- getting food delivered for dinner so you don’t have to clean up later. Or even having cereal for dinner!
- asking a friend/neighbor if you can drop off your kids for 10 minutes while you go for a walk. See if there’s interest in a kid swap so you can all have some regular, kid-free “me” time.
- hiring a babysitter so you can go to the grocery store or gym alone.
- asking your partner to clean up dinner or take over bath time.
- enlisting the support of a postpartum doula (for daytime, evening, or overnight support).
- carving out time for you – whether early morning or later at night – and making it a priority.
I’ve been contemplating writing this blog for about 8 months now. While browsing Instagram after a night shift I saw January Harshe‘s (of Birth Without Fear) story and became inspired to finally put my thoughts together. This image specifically lit the fire under me (and I will link it to her original post).
Also, a thank you to my colleague and friend, Jessica Walker of Black Rabbit Doulas in Missouri, for consulting on this blog before it went live.
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This article is for informational purposes, only. It does not take the place of consultation with your medical provider. The information above is not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.