When my friend, Ryan, was pregnant with her second child in 2018, I flew from Milwaukee, Wisconsin (my home at the time) to Birmingham, Alabama (the state where I grew up) to attend her baby sprinkle. It was lovely to visit one of my former home states, to see daffodils blooming in February, and to spend quality time with my childhood friend.
One of the local boutiques, a peddler of the typical tat for les mamans et les bébés, had a small section of customized wine glasses. As we browsed, I grabbed an overlarge stemless wineglass that said, “Because Kids.” Other goblets bore similar messages like, “I Drink Wine Because My Kids Whine” and “Mommy’s Sippy Cup.”
Oh, how we laughed. I, childfree at the time, and Ryan, a practiced maman-to-be, indulged in a good chuckle. This wineglass was funny. It was hilarious. Of course moms drink because of their kids! Why wouldn’t they drink? Kids are a lot of work! Kids are sticky and wet! Kids really do whine!
Of course moms drink because of their kids! Kids are a lot of work!
As such, this wineglass was the perfect silly, harmless gift. I bought the wineglass and we moved on, iced cafés in hand. C’est très amusant, n’est-ce pas?
Mais non, pas du tout – not at all.
Far be it for me to overthink anything, let alone something meant to be fun or humorous (le cough). But all these years later and pregnant myself, I’m wary the “Because Kids” message on that novelty wineglass. The subtext of mommy drinking culture beyond the tongue-in-cheek indicates a troubling culture that encourages and normalizes so-called mommy drinking as funny and desirable and as indicative of all mothers and motherhood.
Encouraging mothers to self-soothe with alcohol and/or overconsume because of their children is toxic and insidious. It promotes a negative rhetoric around parenting.
This sort of messaging feels unhealthy and does not encourage a balanced or pleasurable approach to alcohol consumption. Rather, encouraging mothers to self-soothe with alcohol and/or overconsume because of their children is toxic and insidious. It promotes a negative rhetoric around parenting including, but not limited to, unhealthy ideas that:
- Kids drive their moms to drink alcohol.
- Mothers cannot handle child rearing without drinking alcohol.
- Drinking alcohol in excess (because these customized beverage containers are not small) is acceptable and advisable behavior.
Et cetera, et cetera.
To be clear, I do not think drinking alcohol is bad or wrong or that a mom should not imbibe, except during pregnancy per the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
While I haven’t really missed alcohol during my pregnancy, probably due to a persistent upset stomach and other fun symptoms like eczema, insomnia, and low blood pressure, that’s my personal journey and not reflective of every other pregnancy or person. I already have my first postpartum apéritif picked out: a chilled glass of rosé (it will be June, after all!). Or an Oranjeboom Premium Pilsenser. Or both (not mixed together!).
We need to rethink the blind promotion of mommy drinking in excess to get laughs, to self-soothe, or to deal with life.
What really matters is that we rethink the rhetoric: the blind promotion of mommy drinking in excess to get laughs, to self-soothe, or to deal with life. Such a culture is not uninfluenced by corporate capitalist interests, the Big Maternity machine, and patriarchal notions of what womanhood and motherhood are and should be (le sigh encore).
For more on the dark side of mommy drinking culture, check out Yahoo!’s January 2022 article, “Moms on ‘mommy drinking culture’ and the ‘trap’ of daily drinking: ‘If everyone is doing it, then it can’t be bad’.”
What accepted practice in popular culture makes you think twice?
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À votre santé,