I saw an e-card on Facebook about eight years ago that made me laugh out loud.
“Don't forget to pick up a bottle of wine for your mom on mother's day. You're one of the reasons she drinks.”
That same ecard seems to come up every year with different illustrations and every year I have found it a little less funny.
I never told my kids that I drank because of them and I think that many mothers would find that statement a bit offensive but we are encouraged to drink to relieve the stress of parenting and we're encouraged to find that funny.. OMG I so need a glass of wine or I'm going to sell my kids is a facebook page with well over 100,000 likes. Their mission is to “encourage all mothers to put themselves first now and again, enjoy a big glass of wine and laugh out loud!” The OMG twenty one oz “big glass” which holds most of a bottle of wine can be purchased from their website. “Cheers!
I agree with OMG's mission to encourage mothers to put themselves first and laugh out loud. Parenting in the twenty first century has become more stressful than ever. From the minute we childproof the sharp corners of our coffee tables, the kitchen cupboard doors and the second floor staircase we're cautioned not to smother our kids. Forget the sun block or allow too much sugar and processed foods and you can be accused of neglect. You'll most likely be Lawnmower or Helicopter parent at some point. Everyone's watching and everyone has an opinion. Parenting and motherhood are not for the faint of heart! We need to laugh.
I used to think that pouring myself a glass or two of wine at the end of the day was the best way to have a little bit of much needed adult time. Between the responsibilities of my job and my family it seemed that I hit the ground running at six in the morning and finally only screeched to a stop when the kids were tucked into bed. I was the go to mom in our neighborhood for fun play dates and great homemade cookies. I made sure that every birthday and holiday was memorable and adorned with homemade piñatas and towering cakes from scratch. I needed my “me time.” Kicking back with a couple of glasses of wine was empowering.
Until it wasn’t.
The problem with my “me time” coming in a bottle is that it eventually took much more than it gave. As my daughter approached adolescence and my tolerance to wine increased I realized that my “me time” was taking over our family time. A few glasses after the kids were in bed became a glass while I made dinner, another while I helped with homework, and another while I folded laundry. I stopped looking forward to a few quite drinks at the end of the day and started to need wine the minute I got home from work. When my wine habit became an addiction there was absolutely nothing funny about it.
Drinking to celebrate and unwind has always been a part of our culture and I understand that most people can smooth out the rough edges with a couple of glasses of wine in the evening and not risk addiction. But in this era when statistics are showing an alarming increase in alcohol abuse among women and an unexpected rise in middle age mortality due to alcohol and drug related illnesses and suicide, I think we need to come up with more creative ways to unwind than just pouring a drink.
With the help of a free, private, blogging community called HelloSundayMorning I've been sensationally sober for a bit over a year now. I've learned that I do need my “me time” but it needs to be time that actually nurtures me. If I spend an hour online writing or soak in the tub with a good book at the end of the day I get the sense of self indulgence I deserve and wake up every morning ready to take on the world.
I have heard it said that sobriety offers everything that alcohol promised and now I know it's true!
This piece was originally published in the Parents Section of Huffington Post.