Enough is Enough


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.


We Want to Know: Do you think it's okay for mothers to drink around their children?

mom drinkingFollowing is a quote from Ada Calhoun’s article in Time online, Moms Who Drink: No Joking After the Schuler Tragedy:

 “I hate the fact that when a man does something idiotic and criminal resulting in the death of a child, that isn’t held out as some Searing Indictment of Modern American Fathers, but a woman’s colossal, tragic screw-up somehow does end up reflecting on all her fellow mothers,” says Carole Morrell, author of the popular parenting blog DrunkenHousewife.com.

“In this particular instance, I’m sure this will confirm the belief held by many that a mother should never drink around her children, ever.”

But the Schuler episode hasn’t prompted Morrell to throw away her bottle openers: “I’ll continue with my more European point of view, showing my children by example that you can enjoy alcohol without anyone getting hurt.”

We want to know: Do you think it’s okay for mothers to drink around their children?


What’s Past is Past?

BE026929by Susan La Scala Wood

If you’ve never admitted you’re an alcoholic, does that mean you never were? I only ask because back in my college days (okay, and those last two years of high school, too), I may have been known to “throw back a few.” I’m talking the cheap stuff (usually a choice between Tickled Pink champagne, Captain Morgan and Natural Light beer), but only because we couldn’t afford the good stuff.

Not that we would have known the difference. Back then, it wasn’t about savoring a fine wine so much as it was about getting shit-faced (for lack of a better term).

I say “we” because drinking always happened in a group. “We” decided what “we” would drink not to mention who would buy it (which generally involved a silky blouse and a boatload of makeup). “We” was comfortable. If we got drunk, got sick and woke up not really remembering a whole lot, we did it together. And not one of us ever raised the concern that we might be alcoholics. After all, don’t alcoholics drink alone, in the coat closet, the basement, the laundry room? And, it’s not like any of us could have downed a fifth of vodka like Meg Ryan did in “When a Man Loves a Woman.” We couldn’t even imagine it.

No. We needed mixers, big time. Plus, we could stop. At any time. Well, unless we were at a party and we spotted our crush. Then, stopping might be a little out of our control. But otherwise, sure, we could slam on the brakes, put the cap back on the wine cooler and go on home.

So were we alcoholics? Some might say “yes.” Some might say “no.” I guess what I say is, “Does it matter?” Eighteen was half my life ago. I’m a very different drinker now, and I didn’t get there by standing in front of an audience of alcohol abusers, abstaining entirely, or following twelve steps. That’s not to say I didn’t have a problem with alcohol. I think not remembering the events of one night is a problem. And I’d admit to blanking many more times than that. But somehow I changed course, we changed course, without trying too hard. I think what happened is we grew up. We realized we didn’t like feeling like crap, saying stupid things, having regrets. We realized a fine wine paired with the right cheese beats beer through a funnel any day. We realized who we were and that we no longer needed a numbing security blanket.

I never admitted to being an alcoholic, and I’m not sure that means I never was. But where I am in my life right now, I’m not sure I care.

Susan La Scala Wood is an award-winning advertising copywriter. She is currently working on her second novel, and has high hopes for getting this one published. If she does, she will celebrate with a bottle of Prosecco, with friends, of course.