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Let’s be real: parenting during a pandemic has pushed us all to the edge of sanity, as we’re tasked with the impossible on the daily. The responsibilities are piling on with no foreseeable end in sight, and it can feel suffocating. Suffice to say, that bottle of white has never looked more appetizing as you fold seemingly unending piles of laundry while hollering at your kids to login online for class, or prep dinner while dodging flying stuffies.
With a million and one internet memes and advertisements promoting wine as the cure-all for all of our mom’ing problems, it’s no wonder it’s now normalized for us to unabashedly turn to vino therapy for help just getting through the day. From “It’s been that kinda day… Just keep pouring,” to “Mombie: An exhausted mother who lives on coffee and wine,” to “Today’s Forecast: 90% chance of wine,” and countless other memes, popular culture is telling us it’s okay, nay, necessary to crack open that bottle at almost any time of day and pour ourselves a generous glass of stress relief. Because we’ve earned it. And sure, we have, and we’re adults who have to right to do as we please. But there are inherent issues with running towards the bottle on autopilot.
In terms of the advertising industry’s part in mommy wine culture, Laura McKowen, a mother who fought for sobriety after a tumultuous journey with alcohol and author of We Are the Luckiest: The Surprising Magic of a Sober Life, says on her blog lauramckowen.com, “Mommy Juice: The Absurdity of Mom Wine Culture,” “'The baby on the hips and the wine on the lips?’ That sh*t almost killed me. So yeah, I’m not going to shut up. Not because I want everyone to quit, but because I want us to see it for what it is. I want us to see how short we’re selling ourselves by checking out...”
She goes on to describe mommy wine culture advertising as akin to smoking advertising back in its heyday. “Maybe, just maybe, we’ve all been duped. Maybe, our beloved booze is as ‘good times’ and benign as we thought smoking was back when it was promoted by doctors and splayed all over ads with taglines like, ‘Be happy, go Lucky!’”
If McKowen is on to something and booze is the new smoking, how is this impacting us, and what are the dangers? As per MPH Online, the Journal of the American Medical Association has found that between 2001 and 2013, rates of high-risk drinking (behaviors that could lead to alcoholism) were up 58 percent for women, and that rates of problem drinking rose more than 84 percent. Says MPH Online, “It’s worth mentioning that those numbers come before the real height of wine mommy culture in the last five years. It’s almost as if internet culture is reflecting and amplifying a social trend—which is exactly what the internet is good for.”
So, whether it’s technology imitating life or life imitating tech, it appears we’ve got a problem on our hands. How do we counter this pervasive and potentially harmful cultural shift? Taking a step back for some harsh but necessary perspective, and then implementing healthier coping mechanisms into our lives could be step one—instead of, as McKowen puts it, “checking out." Strategies like meditation, journaling, practicing daily gratitude, exercise, occasionally venting to a friend or partner, and even sobriety meetings are all positive outlets, because white knuckling it through sobriety alone can be grueling, and stone-cold sobriety is not necessarily the answer for everyone anyway. Perhaps most of our journeys just look more like dialing back the drinking a bit, and a growing awareness of our tendencies and urges, and what those might mean.
So, next time you’re at the park and your mom friend breaks out her Yeti filled to the brim with red and offers you a pour, don’t be shy to politely decline and continue sipping your tea. Because you’re doing your physical and mental well-being a solid in the long run, and that’s a truly rebellious, sustainable life choice, and a mom-win.