The Problem With 'Mommy Wine Culture' Isn't the Wine

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There seems to be some confusion over what “mommy wine culture” is and isn’t. On social media and in the real world, where does a mom enjoying a glass of wine end and the implications of “I need alcohol in order to parent my kids” begin?

I think it starts with the definition. When I refer to “mommy wine culture,” I mean the social narrative that states or implies moms need wine to cope, parent, and overcome the challenges of raising children. This isn’t about drinking wine, and it’s not as simple as a mother having a drink. It’s about blaming our kids as the reason we drink or suggesting wine in lieu of actual support for mothers who are truly struggling.

I know what you’re probably thinking: “It’s just a joke.” It’s a joke because parenting is really hard, and we could all use a collective nod to recognize we see each other in this exhausting stage of life. Unfortunately, it’s a joke that comes at the mother’s (and even her children’s) expense, because it distracts us from the real problem: Moms need better support. It’s a joke where the only people who profit are alcohol companies and the patriarchy. Let me explain.

Mommy wine culture does a few things that are disturbing and dangerous.

It puts the weight of our struggle and frustrations on our children. Messages like “my kids are the reason I drink” or “my kids whine so mommy wines” send the message to our kids that they are the problem, which is inaccurate, unfair, and damaging.

It distracts us from a much more important issue, getting support for mothers who are truly struggling. Joking or making light of it — making it seem as if wine is the answer — is hurtful and insensitive to those who are genuinely asking or too afraid to ask for help.

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It inaccurately implies alcohol to be helpful and a healthy coping mechanism when it is anything but that. Studies show that no amount of alcohol is safe, and alcohol is also a depressant. For moms who are in the thick of it or in the early stages of PPD, this is a dangerous lure, while also modeling unhealthy coping mechanisms for our children.

Finally, I would be remiss not to mention that alcohol is extremely addictive and can lead to a state where you cannot effectively parent, or parent at all. Suggesting it to cope is irresponsible and can cause far greater damage than a massive hangover the next day.

Next time you hear me or someone else mention mommy wine culture, remember … this is not an attack on moms or anyone drinking wine. This is frustration with the message that alcohol will solve some of the deeper societal woes that hold parents, especially moms, back. Mothers deserve better than that. Our children do too.

In short, mommy wine culture glosses over societal issues that are no joking matter. And making light of them does us a deep disservice. Mommy doesn’t need wine, she needs better pre- and postpartum support, she needs affordable childcare, she needs guaranteed paid maternity leave, equal distribution of labor at home, and to lighten the mental load. Maybe then, we can get to a place where mothers don’t need wine to cope — because we finally have what we’ve truly needed all along.

Celeste Yvonne is a writer and certified recovery coach (IAPRC) in Reno, Nevada. Over five years sober and a founding host of the Sober Mom Squad, Celeste advocates for mothers who struggle with addiction and mental health. Her new book, It’s Not About the Wine: The Loaded Truth Behind Mommy Wine Culture, offers mothers healthy solutions and coping strategies during these weary yet wonderful years. Buy it at Amazon or Target.

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