If you’ve been online, you’ve seen the jokes, the memes, and even the in-group references.
“Wine moms” seem to be everywhere.See-ming Lee/Flickr CC
But one mom is asking whether it’s the right message to send.
I'm about to do something I never do here: share my thoughts about a divisive issue. I may regret it, but I have high…
As Mary Katherine Backstrom wrote on Facebook, there’s no getting away from the theme of wine and motherhood:
I like wine. I enjoy cocktails. I understand the allure of a wind down glass at the end of the day as much as the next person.
But I believe there’s something a little off, here.
This constant “hehe time to drink away my stress” joke that is pervasive in Mommy blogs is NOT funny.
Have you noticed how it is an accepted cultural phenomenon that “mommies need wine” and anytime is “wine o clock”.
I’ve seen “that’s not water in my bottle” jokes more than I care to count.
It sucks and it’s sad.
Backstrom, who blogs at Mom Babble, says that the joke “falls flat” for her. And she thinks it’s time people reconsider engaging in it.
Thought it would be fun to change my cover photo kinda regularly so y'all can see how imperfect, crazy, and real my household is. Here's a snapshot of my life. Show me yours!
As parents, we spend a lot of time pointing out to young people that what they share online can follow them for years.
But that same lesson seems to be forgotten when it comes to suggesting that your children drive you to drink.
As Backstrom wrote on Facebook:
Our words are our legacy. What we post online is going to outlive us. I’ll be danged if my kids explore the archives of my past long after I’m gone only to discover that I felt so burdened by their presence that I needed to drink away my stress. And no, one passing joke isn’t a representation of a lifetime of parenting, but let’s be honest: for most of the blogosphere, this isn’t a one-off joke. It’s kinda a THING.
But there’s a more serious side to the issue as well — the possibility that these jokes send the wrong message to anyone struggling with alcoholism. She wrote:
We are creating a friendly hideout for dangerous, deadly addiction. We are enabling those among us whose alcohol intake is killing them. Binge drinking destroys families and is very, very unfunny.
Every time we normalize medicating with alcohol, we are giving a free pass for people to harm themselves. These people hide amongst us and they are our friends, family and loved ones.
We are endorsing this behavior with our laughter and with every meme shared.
This isn’t just a hypothetical. As Backstrom told Dearly, she has known people who have used jokes to avoid dealing with a real problem:
“I have many women in my circle who suffer from alcoholism and they all admit that they used these ‘harmless’ wine jokes to part justify their addiction. When a joke is something that helps hide a problem, is it really even funny? The problem is, the punchline isn’t ‘mommy is over it,’ the punchline is almost always ‘mommy is medicating.’ And regardless of whether or not a person is fully addicted, using a depressant to medicate mental stress is never healthy. Add kids to the mix, and it’s just disconcerting.”
The powerful feeling of camaraderie that comes from moms sharing their trials and tribulations can be helpful. However, as Backstrom wrote, it can also reinforce a harmful way of thinking:
For all the solidarity we have to share in this parenting journey, the one thing I never want to see us bonding over is a need for numbness.
Enjoy the wine, mamas. You’re freaking adults.
But let’s not pretend and let’s not joke that drinking away our stress (or our CHILDREN) is somehow a funny or normal thing.
Backstrom emphasizes that she isn’t looking to keep anyone from enjoying a glass of wine if they want it. And she knows that hyperbole has a place in humor. But that’s not what’s happening here. As she told Dearly:
“Yes, I have a sense of humor. And yes, I realize we make all sorts of jokes about things like selling our kids or running away.
But this has become more of an accepted culture than a joke. And the punchline sits too close to a dangerous truth for it to be funny, in my opinion.”
For Backstrom, the moment of clarity came when a blogger she admired — and who had shared more than a few wine jokes of her own — revealed that she was an addict. Backstrom told Dearly:
“Watching her painful and challenging journey back toward sobriety has been the wake up call and affirmation I needed to make a firm stance on this.”
Backstrom is aware that not everyone will agree with her — and that some might even attack her for her stance against wine joke culture. But as she told Dearly, “I don’t care.”
She even acknowledges that she may have been guilty of posting similar things in the past. But while she isn’t writing to pass judgment on others, she hopes moms will think twice before posting another wine joke. As she wrote on Facebook:
“Let’s stop it with ‘mommy needs wine’ shall we? Because mommy can WANT wine whenever she damn well pleases. But she sure as heck shouldn’t need it.”