The term “wine mom” was popularized in 2010 after women started joking online about using alcohol to relieve the stress of motherhood. Today, a quick Google search on “wine mom” brings up realms of information, including the following definition in Wikipedia.
"Wine mom" is a term that is used to describe a typically upper middle class mother, often with young children, who turns to alcoholic drinks to cope with being over-worked or fatigued from parenting. Alternatively, the term 'Wine Mom' may also be used as a label of self empowerment, or as a means of finding acceptance by others in a social group.
The internet catapulted the wine mom to meme stardom. There are thousands to choose from, whether sharing studies with a wink-wink that swear that highly intelligent women tend to drink more than average or joking about “Mommy juice” and the need for “wine-o’clock.”
While many memes are funny and meant to be light-hearted, another story is at play. Motherhood is challenging, and drinking to cope is common, but behind the scenes, many women and mothers are struggling with their alcohol use.
Women’s drinking is catching up to men’s for the first time in history, primarily due to social media and the alcohol industry. During the pandemic, alcoholic consumption declined among men, while it remained steady among women.
Excessive alcohol use is detrimental to women’s health. The Center for Disease Control reports excessive use of alcohol is associated with more than 43,000 deaths among women each year. They also report:
Women and mothers are more likely to be the ones who shoulder the major responsibility of parenting and related household tasks. Caring for babies, toddlers, and teens is super stressful. My alcohol use escalated to levels it had never reached as a young mom. I had no idea how to deal with the growing problems at home and at school, so I kept drinking to cope.
Drinking goes not numb away the challenges of motherhood and does not make problems go away. Drinking to deal with problems creates a cycle of ongoing guilt and regret. My biggest regrets, today and forever, are related to my actions as a mother and the affect my drinking has had on my son. When I finally quit drinking, my determination to stay quit was mainly due to being a mother and the growing needs of my son.
We live in a society that teaches happiness is outside of ourselves. Advertising and the media are very powerful in reinforcing this message. Through the power of the alcohol industry and social media, women are conditioned to believe that drinking is a good thing and alcohol helps with things like stress. But that is a lie. Alcohol does not help with stress—quite the opposite. Alcohol increases anxiety. Memes that say otherwise support a marketing tactic that trivializes women, mothers, mental health and normalizes a drinking culture. For a woman who struggles with alcohol, being subjected to constant images and messaging that promotes alcohol can psychologically trigger drug hunger years later from years of conditioning.
Women and mothers are the bedrock of our families and society. I take comfort in knowing that by quitting drinking, I am breaking the cycle of addiction in my family. I don’t wish to trivialize quitting drinking. Quitting drinking and staying quit is the most challenging thing I have ever done. But then, really, why wouldn't it be? Quitting drinking is momentous. Addiction runs in families, and quitting drinking is the most significant gift anyone can give.
Breaking cycles is what women and mothers do. Whether you continue to drink or not, ANY positive change has a rippling effect. The Seventh Generation Principle is a value found in the Iroquois and other Indigenous traditions and teaches that the decisions we make and how we live today will impact the future seven generations. That is about 140 years into the future! Pretty powerful stuff!! Becoming aware and not sharing and liking “wine mom” memes helps to break the culture of normalizing drinking for women.
If you need help quitting drinking and breaking the cycle of addiction in your family, we address issues specific to being a woman and mother in my GendHER® program.
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