For Many Moms, Sober is the New Black

Moms and Wine, harmless?

“Ugh, my kids were such beasts today…and I fought with the insurance company, the schools…I cannot WAIT to get home to a glass of Moscato!”

Sound familiar?

mom questioning drinking

It seems like ever since my decision to give up drinking and reject the Mom-Wine Culture that we’re in, that wine is EVERYWHERE. I am definitely noticing it more as I am not partaking in it.

Facts about Women and Alcohol

  1. Women with household incomes above $75,000 are more likely to binge drink than those in lower income brackets.[5]
  2. Women are the fastest growing segment of the alcohol-abusing population.2
  3. There is an association between drinking alcohol and developing breast cancer. Studies demonstrate that women who consume about one drink per day have a 5–9 percent higher chance of developing breast cancer than women who do not drink at all. That risk increases for every additional drink they have per day.
  4. Long-term alcohol misuse is a leading cause of heart disease. Women are more susceptible to alcohol-related heart disease than men, even though they may consume less alcohol over their lifetime than men.
  5. National surveys show that about 1 in 2 women of child-bearing age (i.e., aged 18–44 years) drink alcohol.
  6. Women who regularly misuse alcohol are more likely to develop alcoholic hepatitis, a serious acute illness, than men who drink the same amount of alcohol. This pattern of drinking can also lead to cirrhosis (liver scarring and shrinkage).
  7. Alcohol abuse disorder in women has increased by 83.7% between 2002 and 2013, according to a 2017 study sponsored by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).7
  8. Alcohol causes more than double the amount of deaths from drugs-both legal and illegal, combined.
  9. From 2007 to 2017, the number of deaths attributable to alcohol increased 35 percent, according to a new analysis by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. The death rate rose 24 percent. Deaths among women rose 85 percent.

August will be two years.

Wow! It was August of 2017 that I decided to cut back on my drinking. Which led to my eventual quitting altogether.

As I go through this process, I am revisit the books I’ve read (links below). One that I am flipping through is My Mama’s Waltz. This book is about 20 years old. And while much of it is still relevant today, much of it is not. Most of the stories in the book are from women who grew up in the 1950s-1970s. And it talks about how it was not socially acceptable for women to drink then, as it was with men.

My, how times change! Yay for progress? You’ve come a long way baby….

Now it’s perfectly acceptable to not only drink but to organize events and social activities around drinking wine (like those painting, pottery and craft classes that include wine).

Wine is everywhere for Moms.

It’s not my imagination, it is everywhere. Just today, I counted that about 10% of my Facebook feed was either someone commenting about drinking wine, a wine meme or a wine event. And I don’t even follow any wine pages or anything, this is all just from friends.

This Mom-Wine culture that we’re in, it often gave me reassurance that my drinking was fine. That I didn’t have a problem or need to cut back. I mean, aren’t we even told repeatedly that if we drink 1-2 glasses of wine a day, we’ll live longer, have fewer heart problems and so on? You almost feel like if you don’t drink wine that you should start drinking wine for your health.

Wine, wine memes, funny wine glasses, wall plaques, cards, pictures….it’s around us all the time. There are funny purses and diaper bags that double as a wine tote. There are jokes about your water cooler at work being filled with wine and giant glasses of wine with “I never have more than one glass a day.” Jokes about wine being a food group or that you are getting your serving of fruit. If you don’t drink wine, it wouldn’t be odd to feel like you might be the only mom not drinking it.

“Ha ha! I’d attend more PTA meetings if they served wine!”

It’s everywhere in suburbia in particular. And it’s on purpose. Marketers aren’t stupid, they are marketing wine to women and moms on purpose. Women purchase 77% of the wine in this country. Wine sales have skyrocketed in the past decade.

Surely, I must be the only suburban mom on the planet who doesn’t drink wine.

No, not at all, actually. As I have found out from doing these posts, there are lots of moms who don’t drink wine. They just feel outnumbered and don’t speak up.

Here are some feelings and thoughts that were expressed in our Facebook group.

Thoughts from Moms who don’t drink wine.

  • Thank you for this! I’m not a drinker but I’m so tired of every activity focused around it. After all little eyes are watching too…
  • I absolutely despise this culture. I feel that it promotes alcoholism. It is always ‘I need a drink’, but that makes you dependent on alcohol. They don’t see that though. Tough day, have a drink. Good day, have a drink. It is just the cool thing to do at this point to fit in. The cool people post about their dependency on alcohol. But who wants to take responsibility when the children start doing it because they watched mom drink for years. It is like sitting around promoting any addictive substance. It just never made sense to me.
  • It is becoming a popular subculture too. You can buy wine themed items from shirts to water bottles. It is so bizarre!!
  • I agree with you too. I hate how wine is now correlated with motherhood nowadays. I made this joke recently on my private page and got the “but but wine is sophisticated!!” Not enough to convince me.
  • It models for kids that alcohol is what to do when you have an issue/want to feel better. It promotes underage drinking – in all kids.
  • Thank you for sharing this!!
    I too made the decision to stop drinking….14yrs ago. On my special needs son’s 1st Birthday.
    I was self-medicating his first year of life. The most maddening part, was when I’d mention to family & friends that I thought I was drinking too much, their response would be, “from everything you’ve been through, you deserve drinks!”
  • Even those who drink it feel it’s gotten out of hand: Developed a taste when I lived in France, refined when I lived in California. But I do think the mom wine culture has gotten out of hand…

That is just a sampling.

What is my point?

My point is, that there are many women and moms out there who do not drink. And that people are subject to peer pressure at any age, not just school-aged kids. That just because wine is all around you and you’re not a DSM 5 alcoholic…it’s ok to question your choices and choose a different path.

That’s what resonates with me–that point from Almost Alcoholic that says that just because you don’t meet the criteria for alcoholic doesn’t mean that you need change.

We are being marketed to. And while wine is fun and relaxing and all those things…the vintners only care about one thing-profits. Keep that in mind as you purchase.

Since I wrote that original post, I have heard from literally dozens of moms who have said, “Thank you. I was questioning this in my own life, but I figured that since my day to day activities mirrored everyone else’s, that it must be ok. After all, we can’t all be alcoholics, right?”

One mom even wrote that she read it and cried because it had summed up exactly what she was feeling, but she was so confused and didn’t know how to proceed.

Everything comes in ebbs and flows. Trends rise and become popular, then there’s a push-back and it reverses. I predict we will see one here too.

If this is what you want, be the trendsetter. Host an event without wine. Go out to eat at a restaurant that doesn’t serve alcohol. You may feel awkward suggesting such things, but based on the email I’ve received, there are many who will be grateful for this.

Good luck!