Tuesday, 19 December 2017
Why Mummy Drinks Wine
There's something I need to make clear right at the beginning of this post:
Motherhood is by far and away the most rewarding, enriching and joyful aspect of my life, and my three children fill me with wonder every day. However...
....motherhood is hard. Harder for our generation, I would suggest, than for any previous one.
A while ago, my sainted mother came to stay at our house for a week to look after the children while the husband and I went on our first holiday without children for thirteen years.
She was horrified!
"Why do you women make things so difficult for yourselves?" She asked. "Why all the after school activities, the music practice, the endless playdates, the fussy organic food? We didn't have any of that stuff in our day. You ate fish fingers, Smash and Angel Delight and spent your afternoons in front of the TV, and you turned out all right!"
Well, that's debatable, but she has a really valid point.
I have seen motherhood from both sides of the great divide: as a full-on working mother and as a stay-at-home mum. They are very different, but both equally hard.
As a working mum, I was desperately trying to perform in the office as if I didn't have children at home, and to be the sort of mother for my children who didn't have a job.
I constantly had to morph, suddenly and seamlessly, from one persona to the other, from presenting at a board meeting to reading the Gruffalo for the thousandth time, and I was convinced I was failing at everything.
After I quit, I was determined to be the perfect mum, to create craft tables and freshly baked cupcakes and to remember to do my pelvic floor exercises.
Instead, I felt guilty about how tired and isolated I felt much of the time, and I was exhausted by the stress of trying to persuade fussy children to eat the perfect diet, to keep them off the electronics which I was told would fry their brains, and to mimic all the perfect images of motherhood littering my Facebook feed.
There has been a backlash recently, with a host of fabulously funny mommy bloggers railing against the pressure to be perfect and revelling in being relaxed, slovenly mothers.
And hurrah for that!
But what antidote do they suggest to all this stress and pressure?
BOOZE! Lashings of it.
There's are several bestselling (and hilarious) books along these lines, like Hurrah for Gin, Why Mummy Drinks and Unmumsy Mum.
There are endless Facebook memes about wine o'clock and mummy's little helper.
And I get it! I get it better than anyone. For a decade or more, wine was my sanity, my oasis, the way I slid from one part of the day into the next.
The problem is that all the books, all the jokes, normalise using an addictive drug as self-medication.
We get so used to dealing with all the everyday ups and downs of life with booze that we don't learn any healthier ways of de-stressing. After all, pouring a glass of wine is much easier and quicker than meditating, doing yoga or going for a run...
Slowly, insidiously, the amount of wine you need in order to wind down increases, and you discover you're drinking a bottle of wine a day and finding it impossible to moderate.
So, at the risk of sounding like a killjoy, I think we have to call time on the mummy wine jokes because what they do is normalise the issue. I spent years thinking the amount I drank was perfectly okay, because everyone else was doing it too...
Astonishingly, the hugely popular mummy blogger, Scary Mommy, agrees with me. She says she's 'done making Mommy wine jokes.' Her post explaining why is on the SoberMummy Facebook page (click here to visit, and 'like' to stay updated).
But, more than that, I think we have to look at why mothers end up relying on wine, and start creating lives for ourselves that we don't feel the need to run away from.
We have to make life simpler, and stop judging ourselves, and other mothers, so harshly. We need to focus on the important stuff- creating a relaxed and happy home, not one driven by lists of endless stuff we all have to achieve.
If you'd like to read the story of my first year without booze, you can buy my book - The Sober Diaries - here.
In other news, I've found a brilliant group of (mainly) women, based in Cape Town, but with a global following, called World without Wine. If you're doing Dry January you can sign up to receive daily motivational e-mails. They also have a fabulous Facebook page.
Love to you all!