Why Do Moms Drink So Much?

If you’ve been alive and awake for 30 seconds then it’s likely you’ve encountered some kind of message regarding mothers and drinking. Maybe it was a funny facebook post that said Mommy’s Sippy Cup. Maybe it was a commercial or movie of moms drinking to take the edge off. Maybe it was an ad for that coloring book that says My Kids Are The Reason I Drink. Maybe you walked through any store, gas station, cafe, or gym and saw one of the “hilarious” t-shirts that says They whine, I wine.

Sadly, none of these “ads” are from alcohol companies. Alcohol companies have no need to advertise drinking to moms because, just like everything else we take care of, we’ve done it for them. These ads are from one mother to another rationalizing our behavior and begging each other for support.

That’s how hard it is to be a mom.

Today’s parenting is an impossible task. Mothers have more skills, resources, and information than ever before. We now have the ability to work and take care of our children. We’re empowered to follow our dreams and to make change. We’re finally being given positions of power and we are inching our way toward equality. We’re given the right and responsibility to raise strong women and forward thinking men. We’re free from so many of the chains and setbacks of the women before us.

But because of all of these great changes, the expectations are high. Now that we know better, we feel like our children need perfectly prepared organic meals on BPA free plastic plates. They need piano lessons, gymnastics, compassion class, karate, and a healthy bedtime on nice clean sheets. They need structure, free play, limited screen time, and the ability to share and be kind.

They need all of our love and to be given a “teaching moment” for every single conflict they encounter. They need us to be present, for the love of God, and to not respond to any of our own needs until they are out of our sight, adjusted, and content.

They need us to be in charge of every single detail from packing their snack to making sure they have their homework to washing their uniforms. Oh, and let’s not forget to make sure our marriage is thriving because a stable home is crucial to development. Finally, they need us to be happy (because no child deserves to grow up with a mom who isn’t happy) so self care is vital.

It’s literally not doable! However, as women, it feels like we should try. So we do, and then we fail, and then we drink (or just make jokes about drinking) because escaping feels like one of our only options.

Sigh.

We’re living in dangerous territory right now. Alcohol consumption among women is at it’s height. According to an article written on WebMD:

  • Female alcohol use disorder in the United States increased by 83.7% between 2002 and 2013, according to a 2017 study sponsored by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).
  • High-risk drinking, defined as more than three drinks in a day or seven in a week for women, is on the rise among women by about 58%, according to a 2017 study comparing habits from 2001–2002 and 2012–2013.
  • A 2018 study found a steep rise in the rate of alcohol-related ER visits between 2006 and 2014, and increases were larger for women than men.
  • Death from liver cirrhosis rose in women from 2000 to 2013.

(By the way did you see the part about “high risk drinking” being defined as more than seven drinks per week. Seven isn’t very much when you have moms night out on Tuesday, drinks with dinner on Friday, and a few beers at the game on Sat.)

Moms-hear me now. We can parent our children without making jokes about the use of a deadly substance! Instead of promoting alcohol let’s promote mental health care! Let’s make shirts about dad’s carrying some of the weight. Let’s share funny memes about how we are not superheroes and no longer want to be considered such. Let’s stop laughing because it’s not at all funny!

It’s not the wine that bothers me the most. Women are standing up for their rights, asserting power, taking back control, and having a voice now more than ever before. But at the end of the day we dilute it all with a joke about how we couldn’t do it without our drinks. Bullshit!

I get it. I’ve been there. I have a deep knowing of the struggles of motherhood inside my bones. But instead of reaching out with a silly joke to cover up the desperation, let’s be vulnerable. Instead of judging each other, let’s work together. Let’s come out from behind what those shirts really mean and tell the truth that this is hard and we need society to stop dumping all the blame and responsibility onto moms.

The time has come to throw alcohol into the bucket of things that are holding women back. We can’t make women’s health a priority while clinking our glasses over funny jokes about how we can’t handle life without drinking. Our culture is in a state of crisis when it comes to addiction and I can’t help but wonder if we have something to do with this. We’re perpetuating the idea of using a dangerous chemical to live life and then laughing about how cute and funny it is?

Let’s change the narrative by making a simple change in what we say about drinking. Getting drunk while parenting is not funny and our kids deserve to know that.

Originally published at https://www.spaliveaf.com on January 14, 2020.

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