We’ve all seen the “wine mom” memes circulating on Facebook and Instagram: picture a frazzled mom slinging back a bottle of wine paired with a quote like, “it’s wine o’clock”, “boxed wine is just a juice box for mom”, or “I wine because my kids whine.” Along with the memes, I’ve seen t-shirts, wine tumblers – you name it; products bearing quotes aimed at tired mothers who require wine to stay sane.
I scroll through Instagram and see these memes at least once a day and I cringe, because I don’t drink. Because for me, drinking wine was never a carefree, relaxing experience. It came with consequences and struggle and I swore I wouldn’t go down that path again. And if I did decide to have a glass of wine after a hard day, I would be doing it for the wrong reasons. I would be numbing the pain and vulnerability that parenting brings, and that nice bottle of Sauvignon Blanc would be empty before Dora finishes the last bars of her theme song.
I wasn’t a daily drinker. I would drink on the weekends, never alone, never in the morning. What I did do, was drink to forget about my constant and debilitating anxiety, or give me a boost of confidence in social situations. And that sip of wine would turn into a glass, and then another and then a bottle. Given that I’m on the smaller side, and prescribed multiple medications, this bad habit was a recipe for disaster. My personal disaster occurred during my last black out, and was the catalyst for me to quit drinking for good.
Every day, I feel that antsy, anxious feeling creep up around 4PM, when I listen for the jingling of the keys and wait for my husband to get home and take over. Our daughter is at the age where she is into everything, including electrical cords, little nooks and crannies, and anything else we tell her not to touch. We’re dealing with sleep issues. I’m anxious about going back to work. Being a new mom isn’t easy and I don’t blame anyone for wanting to pour a drink once 5PM hits. Honestly sometimes I wish I could pour myself a glass of Prosecco to unwind, but instead I rely on the tools given to me by therapists, like breathing exercises, yoga and meditation.
Being sleep deprived and emotionally exhausted is hard. Add to that moms are being inundated with the message that wine usually referenced in bottle metrics is the best thing to help them cope. While pouring those glasses might feel like a great idea in the moment, the alcohol will eventually wear off, leaving you still sleep deprived and emotionally exhausted, along with a hangover, and for some, the possibility of developing a serious habit.
A recent study shows that alcohol use and high-risk drinking is increasing within the US population, especially within women. Between 2002 and 2013, “problem drinking,” or drinking so much that it causes significant problems in your life and/or the inability to stop drinking, rose by 83.7% among women. Researchers haven’t said there is a direct correlation between wine memes and an increase in problem drinking, but I do wonder if these constant reminders push the vulnerable towards the issue.
This is where I arrive at my point: For most, if used in a safe environment, alcohol can be enjoyed without any issues. There are many women out there who are able to enjoy a glass of wine in the evening, after the kiddos have gone to bed, with no problems at all. Not to numb the pain but to celebrate the fruits of their labour. My worry though, is that with the increase of these memes, and the collective agreement that wine is the fixer of emotional issues, those susceptible will develop a problem with drinking. The goal here is to speak MY truth and raise awareness so that if even one reader notices that her drinking is getting out of hand, that she will reach out to someone she trusts and ask for help. Know that there are help lines in Canada and the US that can pair you with resources in your community and that if you’re struggling with alcohol, there are other ways to cope with the overwhelming feelings that come with mamahood – even though opening a screwtop bottle of wine may seem easier. If you are struggling, you aren’t alone. You are loved, and important, and so worthy of emotional and physical wellness.