by Caren Osten Gerszberg
In the wake of the Diane Schuler tragedy and the resulting bad press of the average mom who drinks an average amount of alcohol in a responsible way—I say enough is enough. We need to stop demonizing ALL women and mothers who drink, because many of them drink in a manner that is okay, as in…moderately.
Perhaps the ensuing onslaught of negativity towards women who enjoy alcohol has one saving grace—that those who do have a problem, drinking in secret and getting behind the wheel of a car after one cocktail too many, will hopefully be motivated to address their habits and potential addiction for fear that such a calamity could be part of their own story.
But for the many women and mothers among us who enjoy a glass of merlot, a cold brew or the occasional martini, the media’s response is not an acceptable indictment. Women are entitled to partake in the cocktail clutch just as men do. Yes, we are the ones who typically drive the kids around, and play with the fire that turns out an evening meal, but just like men who pal around and throw back a few at the bar, poker table and tailgate, there are women who want to do the same. Only many are more likely to do so while the kids are playing nearby or while putting dinner together. As long as there is no danger, why is this equivalent female version of drinking being labeled as dangerous?
Which leads me to another issue—drinking in front of our children. I have three of my own, and drink regularly in front of them. They are aware of the pleasures their parents derive from a glass of wine and see them do so responsibly. Some people feel it’s setting a bad example to drink while the kids are around, assuming the younger generation will therefore mimic their “proper” behavior and forever stay away from the bad stuff called booze. But what about kids learning and understanding that mom and dad can have a drink because it tastes good and they like it? That parents are people who are allowed to partake in certain activities that kids can’t. Until a certain age, we can drive; they can’t. We can vote; they can’t. We can drink; they can’t.
I realize this is not a simple matter for some women. That drinking can be loaded with complexity. A family history or relationship with an alcoholic can turn the act of drinking into a web of doubt, guilt and fear. But that’s not who I’m addressing here. I’m speaking about those in control—those for whom drinking is not fraught, or complicated, but merely one of life’s simple pleasures. And that is nothing to be ashamed of.
Caren Osten Gerszberg is a co-founder and editor of Drinking Diaries. To watch her interview about women and drinking on the ABC News Now show, “Moms Get Real,” go to http://abcnews.go.com/video/playerIndex?id=8367782.