Some nights I had just a glass. Other nights, depending on my level of despair or boredom, it was an entire bottle. On days when the trenches of early motherhood were particularly condemning and isolating, my nightly wine ritual gave me a break — an escape — from the sticky, cluttered, anxious life I had pieced together as a new mother. I was “wine mom” incarnate.
Dating back to 2015, the “wine mom” trope has evolved from a meme to a full-blown, marketed lifestyle, evangelizing alcohol as a culturally acceptable respite from the everyday stresses of motherhood. Kid not sleeping through the night? Epic tantrum in the checkout line at Target? Are you just tired of being someone’s parent? There’s a wine for that. (And a T-shirt).
While wine mom’s laid-back, zany front appears to promote solidarity among stressed-out parents, critics argue that the trope, which glorifies binge drinking by framing alcohol as a panacea for fraught mothers, is actually a threat to women. Heavy, frequent alcohol use can mask postpartum mood disorders, preventing women from seeking the mental-health interventions they need — and from developing healthy ways to cope with anxiety.
Like changing out of my puree-splattered leggings and slipping into something fresh and sophisticated, opening a bottle of wine offered me a clean break from my identity as a frazzled mom. I could toggle from frustrated and on edge to buzzed and at ease in just a matter of gulps, forgetting, if just for the night, how inadequate I was, how absolutely gutted motherhood made me feel, how desperate I was to remember who I was before I had a baby.
The problem was, the feelings I hoped to outrun kept resurfacing. Day after day, my shame ballooned alongside my anxiety, and day after day, I frantically searched for a way to numb them both. Because of my alcohol abuse, my “self-care” efforts quickly evolved into self-sabotage, and my yearning for a “break” turned into the frantic need for escape.
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