Most adults in America will be familiar with mommy wine culture, even if they do not know the phenomenon by that name. Framed as an easy-going and funny reward for the tough job of motherhood, it could be easy to brush it off as a joke. However, as levels of alcoholism among women of parenting age in the US skyrocket, should we be more concerned about the health risk mommy wine culture poses?
Mommy wine culture is acceptance or even a light-hearted joke around the idea that mothers need to drink wine (or another alcoholic beverage) to get through the day. You can find mommy wine culture in comedy sketches on TV and in-jokes exchanged on social media. Corporations producing greetings cards and other gift items targeted at mothers make a tidy profit selling mugs and glasses emblazoned with Mommy’s Medicine or Mommy’s Therapy. Internet searches for ‘wine mom’ shoot up every year in May and December as people look for products to send as novelty gifts around Mother’s Day and Christmas.
Taken alone, they are a lighthearted view of the different ways moms can juggle work and the children and have some fun; however, increasing numbers of people are suggesting that there might be something darker about mommy wine culture that we shouldn’t ignore.
Drinking wine can feel instantly relaxing after a long day. Women often carry the double burden of paid work outside of the home and a disproportionate amount of unpaid work inside the home compared with their male family members. With little time left over to relax, a glass of wine in the evening can be a very appealing way of unwinding.
Due to this double shift, many women feel unable to take time for themselves. Many jokes in mommy wine culture seem to mention wine only on a surface level - what they’re really looking for is some time away from caring responsibilities.
Joking about that little glass of wine can then be a way for some moms to release themselves from the stigma of finding some aspects of motherhood challenging. Sharing a glass of wine with others can feel like the only way of bonding with friends and community members.
While drinking every evening may feel like a reliable way to relax, it usually causes more problems than it solves:
Alcohol addiction in women often goes unnoticed in America; however, it is common and rising. Mommy wine culture normalizes this drinking and makes it harder for moms to spot when they might be developing a problem.
Similarly, mommy wine culture can distract from the issues that might be causing mom to drink. High workloads both inside and outside of the home can cause chronic stress, and when combined with the stigma of finding motherhood hard, this can be difficult for anyone to manage. Mommy wine culture doesn’t just trivialize potentially harmful drinking behaviors; it also normalizes the problems that may cause it.
The jokes inherent to mommy wine culture often suggest that parenting children is extremely challenging or puts emphasis on how annoying, clingy, or boring children can be, which could induce feelings of guilt and shame in children.
It also promotes the unhealthy idea that alcohol is a suitable solution to feelings of stress. Parental alcohol addiction is also a risk factor for children to develop alcohol addiction when they grow up. Therefore, children are at risk of internalizing the same problems that mommy wine culture is normalizing in their mothers.
If drinking is becoming a problem and is affecting you and perhaps your family, there are several ways we can overcome mommy wine culture:
Mommy wine culture might be covertly toxic, but there are ways to overcome the darker problems it conceals and find better solutions to deal with the pressures of motherhood.