So, I’m a woman. And a mom. Without being ‘judgy’ I see a lot of wine guzzling going down at every mommy get-together or girl’s night out. At some point, I was struck by the women & Wine Time Culture and have since wondered about the huge impact it has had on modern parenting.
When I was a kid, dads came home after work and might enjoy a cocktail before dinner. Or a nightcap before bedtime. At our house anyway, there was nothing out-of-the-ordinary or extreme. But moms? Never. The moms I knew where busy, busy, busy. Too busy to stop and sip.
My how times have changed. And cheers to that. I think.
After years of being prim and proper, alcohol brands are now marketing directly to moms: encouraging wine and spirits as a way to unwind, and unpack the stresses of parenthood. It’s a sign that women are approaching equal footing when compared to men.
But is there a sobering side to using boozing as a coping mechanism? Some mental health experts think it’s toxic. Or a cocktail for trouble. We, Americans, are widely viewed as the most medicated and depressed nation in the world. Suffice it to say, alcohol has become the go-to for many a mom as a tonic for stress relief.
In the short-term it might be a good solution. Alcohol lowers heart rate and blood pressure, reduces attention and concentration, and increases sleepiness. So you can see why people equate the ‘chill’ feeling with relaxation. But the buzz kill here is that as people build up a tolerance, it doesn’t work so well. Regular drinking ‘trains’ the body to work to overcome these effects.
And then there’s this: some experts believe negative effects of alcohol are even more significant for women than they are for men because women are more likely to develop life-threatening diseases such as cancer, liver, heart and brain damage.
Another issue of concern is the regularity with which moms are enjoying a little wine time. Self reported surveys reveal it’s become a daily routine for many. It popped on the radar of researchers early in the pandemic. Things were ‘stressy’ all around, like how moms had to often assume the role as teacher to their kids during lockdowns.
Parenting magazine pulled this data together in 2020. It cited a study published in JAMA Network Open, which found that during that year there was a 41 percent increase in the number of days that women drank heavily (“heavily” defined as having four or more drinks in a couple of hours).
Me thinks there may be a problem brewing. The normalization of drinking, even day drinking is putting a band aid on the issue of mommies multi-tasking themselves into a tightly wound ball of stress.
Psychologists see a parallel rise in society’s expectations of how we parent and the focus on creating an enriching environment for our children. Time and time again I’ve heard moms speak about creating magical memories, while they’re hot gluing sequins on some costume or party dress as they sip a glass of rosé.
Some argue that women are merely catching up to men, and there is no evidence that moms are binge drinking at a greater rate than other demographics. A silver lining, maybe. Of course we’re all deserving of R&R and a glass of wine or two. Some moms argue that wine time with their girl friends serves as a much-needed bonding experience, and they find it empowering.
The bottom line for a man or woman is actually the same. It’s not a good idea to use alcohol to blunt reality. Facing issues head on and making changes as needed may lessen the need to numb. If you take steps to address situations, even if it means lowering your expectations or children’s demands, you may find you can skip the sip. Then you can save your wine time for real celebrations.
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