When “Mommy needs a drink” Isn’t Funny Anymore

mom-cocktailI recently came across a piece that was published last year, yet seems as important and relevant as ever. Originally published on Salon, and written by Leslie Garrett, the piece describes the author’s experience as both the daughter of an alcoholic and a new, tired, stressed-out mother, and how those jokes about mommy’s drinking can be deeper and more serious than they appear. Although I’m no longer a new mother, I know that for many, stress and fatigue can send you straight to that lovely bottle of wine chilling in the fridge. Here’s what Garrett has to say…

“There was no social media when my mother began her descent to the bottom of the bottle. No Martini Mommy tweeting that “Two glasses of red wine turns my children from Devil-Eyed-Beasts to Tolerable-Additions-To-My-Life.” No Mommy Mixologist stressing that “sometimes Mommy REALLY needs a drink.”

Even the books – “Sippy Cups Are Not for Chardonnay,” “The Three-Martini Playdate” and the just-released “Reasons Mommy Drinks” – arrived on bookshelves long after my own mother’s reasons to drink had grown up.

I wonder if, had my mother been born later, she might have adopted the Twitter handle @mommyhidesboozeinthewashingmachine. Might she have tweeted that “Vodka in my coffee dulls the sound of daughter’s begging me to stop drinking”? The thing is, I’ve seen the “mommy needs a drink” culture up close. It’s not that funny.

“Comedic gold,” is how Lyranda Martin-Evans described to a newspaper reporter the “daily struggle” that time-starved, sleep-deprived new moms face. Her book, “Reasons Mommy Drinks,” which she wrote with blog partner Fiona Stevenson, offers up advice paired with mocktail or cocktail recipes. The Day Care Defense, for example, is a fruity rum drink that promises to “numb your guilt, kill germs and boost your immune system.” The first 18 months of motherhood were “really hard,” Martin-Evans says, but “tragedy plus time equals comedy.” Apparently tragedy plus vodka does too.

I’ve tried to laugh along. One of my favorite New Yorker cartoons features a woman with a glass of wine in one hand, her toddler on her hip. “This?” she says. “It’s a magical potion that makes everything you say interesting.”

Funny, right? It speaks to those mind-numbingly boring days when you’ve read “Puppy’s Birthday Surprise” 87 times and your kid won’t nap and you’re on deadline and you still can’t zip your skinny jeans even though your “baby” is almost three. Sometimes a glass of wine would take the edge off.”

To read the full article, click here.

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Drinking Diaries Roundup

stories to tellAt Drinking Diaries, we love to hear different perspectives on drinking. Here, below, are three: One from a college student who doesn’t drink, another from a middle-aged woman who re-examined her relationship to drinking, and another from a parenting advice columnist on how to react when your teen talks to you honestly about her drinking life:

From “Sober at a Party School” by Erica L. in Rookie online magazine: “Keggers were a way of life, and it practically rained alcohol on the weekends. I didn’t mind that drinking was so prevalent, but I did mind that my choice not to drink made people regard me as an uptight buzzkill or a puritan weirdo. In reality, my backstory was a lot more complicated.”

From “Mommy’s Little Downer,” an excerpt from Ann Dowsett Johnston’s new book, “Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol” in The Daily Beast: “Is alcohol the modern woman’s steroid, enabling her to do the heavy lifting involved in a complex, demanding world? Is it the escape valve women need, in the midst of a major social revolution still unfolding?  For many women, the answer is a resounding yes.”

From “What to Do When a Teen Provides Full Disclosure,” by James Windell, On SI Lve.com:  “If you take a tough, strict, repressive approach, you are likely to reduce the chances [your teen] will be open with you in the future. And, in addition, a tough approach could lead to more rebellion, defiance and dishonesty in the future.”


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To (Let Your Kids) Sip or Not Sip Your Alcohol—That is the Question

child sipping wineDo you let your kids sample your wine, beer or mixed drinks? Many people do, figuring it will make drinking less taboo and therefore, less attractive to them when they become teenagers. A recent study found, however, that the earlier kids start sipping, the earlier they tend to start drinking.

Researchers followed 452 children for ten years, starting at age 8. They asked the kids the following questions: How old were you when you first tasted alcohol? How old were you when you had your first drink? How old were you when you first got drunk (or had three or more drinks on the same occasion)? Have you ever experienced a hangover or passed out from too much alcohol?

Surprisingly, 37% of the participants had tasted alcohol by age 8, and two thirds had tasted alcohol by age 12. By age 14, 19 percent of the kids were drinkers, and 3 percent had gotten drunk. By age 18, 96 percent of the group had sipped alcohol, 78 percent were drinking, and about one-third reported alcohol-related problems.

One of the researchers, John Donovan, an associate professor of psychiatry and epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center suggested that “parents abstain from letting their children sample their drink.”

Previous studies have borne out the results of this study.

What’s your opinion? Would you let your kids or teens have sips of your alcohol, or not? Why?



Would You Let Your Teens Drink In Your House?

teens drinking
Most of us can remember going to parties in high school. I didn’t drink then, but I still ended up at my fair share of parties, and believe me, drinking was happening and it was in someone’s parents’ house. I never, ever saw the parents, so were they all away, a la Risky Business? Supposedly, things were more lax back in the 80s, when I was growing up. But is that really true? There were parties in people’s houses then, and there are parties now.

It’s a fairly commonly held belief among parents that if you let your teens drink in your house, you are keeping them safer by knowing where they are and what they’re doing. But what about this scenario:  A doctor and his wife were charged with giving alcohol to minors and corruption of minors after a party at their house. The police officers who ended up at the house rounded up nine teenagers in the basement, where they found beer bottles and cans, a plastic beer bong, a “beer pong table,” and joints. The parents said they allowed their 17-year-old son to host parties at the house and emphasized that they did not let any of the underage drinkers drive home.

In an article in The Pittsburgh Tribune, Carnegie Mellon University police Chief Tom Ogden said this about parents: “They say, ‘Oh, just drink in the basement, but it’s stupid, it’s irresponsible, and it’s criminal. It’s a problem with the attitudes of these parents. Rather than tell their kids no and hold them accountable for their actions, they try to be their cool friends.”

Another policeman, Officer McDonough said, “They think because the kids are drinking in the basement that everything is fine, but how are they going to keep track of all those kids? And if one leaves and gets into a DUI crash, now innocent lives are being affected.”

Whether you do or do not let them drink in your house, teens will gather, and alcohol might or might not be involved. What is your stance regarding your (or other people’s) underage teens? Would you let your teens drink with their friends in your house? Would you host a party and if you did, would you stand there, monitoring everyone? This is one of those hot-button, no-win topics, it would seem…What do you think?  (As a postscript, I wonder how this issue plays out–or doesn’t–in other countries. Think of France, where teens have been sipping wine since they were kids. Would their parents get arrested for underage drinking? It almost makes one wonder if the drinking age doesn’t create certain problems of forbidden fruit…)

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What Should You Say to Your Tweens and Teens About Drinking?

alcohol visualLast week, I wrote a post about how it’s important to talk to your teenagers and tweens about the effects of alcohol on their bodies. The issue I have with the DARE program (which has since been stopped in our area) is that they only urge kids to resist alcohol, to “Just Say No.” But what if you, or someone around you, says yes (and this is highly likely, given the CDC’s latest findings on binge drinking, and also given the makeup of the teenage brain).

A friend of mine, in response to my post, expressed a sincere desire to discuss the issue with her daughters, and she asked, “Is there a list of easy to explain effects of alcohol to share with our kids that is not too sensationalized?”

Here is my own list of things I think they should know. Some of these seem obvious, but if they were so obvious, teenagers wouldn’t be going to the hospital in droves to have their stomachs pumped. Of course, some kids will be self-destructive even if they’re armed with information, but I’d like to think that knowledge is power. Schools are reluctant to share this kind of information because it seems like they’re condoning underage drinking, but I think they’re making a mistake here (or perhaps I don’t understand our litigious culture).

Before you give the talk, you can emphasize that you’re not in favor of underage drinking, and that it can mess up your ability to mature socially, because alcohol can become a crutch. It also interferes with developing brain cells. However, they might find themselves in a situation where they, or others around them, are drinking.

This is what they need to know (And please feel free to add your own):

1)   Vodka and hard liquor are not equal to beer or wine. If you pour yourself a glass of vodka equivalent to your mother’s glass of wine, you will most likely pass out.

2)   A shot is 1.5 ounces of liquid. Okay, that’s well and good, but how much is that? You need a visual. Show them what a shot glass looks like, and then show them that same amount poured into a wine glass or a beer mug, or a plastic party cup.shot of alcohol visual 2

3)   Please do not chug hard liquor from the bottle, even if you think it looks cool.

4)  Don’t let anyone give you a drink or make you a drink, unless you are watching them. You need to know what you’re drinking.

5)   It’s okay to go to a party and just hold a beer and pretend you’re drinking it if you feel self-conscious. Just because you don’t drink doesn’t mean you can’t socialize.

6)   If you are a girl and weigh 110 pounds, you cannot drink as much as a guy weighing 150 pounds. Period.

7)   Never drink and drive. Never get in a car with someone who is drinking and driving. Call for a ride home—no questions asked. I will drive your friends home, too.

8)   If someone offers you “grain alcohol” punch or Everclear, steer clear. It’s tasteless, and will make you blind drunk very quickly.

9)   If you are with someone whose has had way too much to drink (eyes are rolling in their head and they are passed out or about to pass out) immediately call an adult or 911. They need to go to the emergency room. Do not let embarrassment or the fear of getting in trouble prevent you from making the call. You will not get in trouble. You will have saved a life.

The Science Inside Alcohol is an interesting site with some information about alcohol and the body, but some of this is information they may get in health class. Also, take a look at Girl’s Health.

And last but not least, it’s important to be aware that you are a role model for your kids. This is not to preach that you shouldn’t drink—just be mindful of your drinking. A recent study found that women 45-64 are drinking their teenage children under the table. Teens may be more likely to binge drink, but older women tend to drink every day.

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