“I’ve always wanted to film the real ‘after party’ when the mom is passed out with her little kid in the background, or she gets into her car and drives drunk. It happens all the time.”
When I made the decision to quit drinking, one morning in June 2017 when my relentless hangover was surpassed only by my anxiety and self-loathing, I didn’t think about how sobriety would affect my role as a parent beyond the obvious positives: less time nursing a glass of wine and more time to engage with my kids; a clearer morning mind during the pre-school madness; more patience, less irritability. More money.
What I didn’t consider was my exclusion from the Mommy Needs Wine club. Although exclusion isn’t the right word — it was my choice to leave. I just hadn’t realized how significant a part of my life it was until I canceled my subscription.
When I first became a mother in 2007, I quickly realized there was an unwritten rule, one that was never mentioned in the parenting manuals: being a mother is hard, and wine (or gin, or vodka, or whatever your particular poison is) makes it easier.
At that point, I didn’t yet have a Facebook account, and Instagram wasn’t even a thing. Today’s pervasive social media culture gives the Mommy Needs Wine club even more power. It recruits mothers from their Facebook and Instagram feeds, via memes that declare: “The most expensive part of having kids is all the wine you have to drink” and “I can’t wait for the day when I can drink with my kids instead of because of them.” We’re encouraged to buy baby onesies emblazoned with “I’m the reason Mommy drinks” and prints saying “Motherhood. Powered by love. Fueled by coffee. Sustained by wine” (to put in a pretty frame and display on your wall, lest anyone should forget how crucial booze is to parenting).
“The media makes a ton of money marketing alcohol to moms, playing on the difficulties of being a mom and offering alcohol as the only solution to stress,” said Rosemary O’Connor, certified life and addiction coach and author of The Sober Mom’s Guide to Recovery. “I’ve always wanted to film the real ‘after party’ when the mom is passed out with her little kid in the background, or she gets into her car and drives drunk. It happens all the time, yet it seems so harmless because wine is so much a part of our culture.”
It’s so much a part of our culture that the Moms Who Need Wine Facebook page is liked by over 726,000 people; that the memes and baby onesies and wall prints are promoted by thousands of likes, shares and crying-with-laughter-face emojis; that even celebrity moms are in the club. Kelly Clarkson said in a January 2018 interview, “[Kids] are challenging. Wine is necessary.”
And millions of mothers around the world raised a glass…
Find out how Claire feels now that she’s left the “Mommy Needs Wine” club in the original article Mommy Doesn’t Need Wine: The Stigma of Being a Sober Mother at The Fix.