I remember crying when I first saw When a Man Loves a Woman in the theater as a high schooler. I cried in reaction to Meg Ryan’s character’s helplessness [recklessness as a mother], and then her empowerment through sobriety; I cried about the love the film portrayed, and the relationship that was forever altered. I had yet to taste my first drink.
I cringe every time I hear the term Mommy Juice. It’s not cute. It’s not funny (although I am guilty of posting “lol” when people have posted about it on Facebook). Even worse is when children are told that the alcoholic beverage their mother is drinking is Mommy Juice. Think about what’s being taught to children when mom grabs a glass of Mommy Juice. Think about whether that drink is really going to soothe anxieties, or if it’s an appropriate ‘reward’ after a long and harried week.
I’ve been bothered by this term for a while, but recent news reports, such as the Today show’s story with Stefanie Wilder-Taylor, have pushed me to open up about this topic. What bothers me about this term is that it is so often used in response to ‘relief’ from the stress and demands of parenting, work, and running a household; that a term so benign could be used for something that has the potential to become a serious problem. I won’t even begin to address my thoughts about drinking and playdates [and then driving home with the kids]. Why such a visceral reaction from me? Because 3 1/2 years ago I found myself unable to cope with the stresses of my life (without children at that time), and drinking wine almost nightly in an effort to de-stress.
Sure, I had tried the gym, but workouts didn’t kick in as quickly (or effectively) as a glass [or three] of wine, and my genetic predisposition placed me in the perfect position to develop a full-blown addiction to alcohol. Like Elizabeth Vargas’ story, I was lucky enough to realize that I had a problem before it became a big problem (which is a joke because alcoholism is a big problem, regardless of the depth of the addiction), before I began losing those things that I held dear [or hurting someone else]. I too, began drinking to quell the anxiety and stress I felt with a long commute and a job that I was unhappy with, a job that didn’t challenge me in the ways that I needed. Pouring wine over the issues that plagued me was like pouring gasoline on a fire; my anxieties and stress compounded and the of glasses of wine increased in number. I am incredibly thankful to have had that moment of awakening, that moment when I realized that I had a problem and needed to do something about it. I am, most gratefully, 3 1/2 years sober.
Why share this? I’m sharing my reality to illustrate how alcoholism manifests itself in many faces, that moms are just as easily susceptible as the men portrayed in the show Mad Men. The tradition of the five o’clock cocktail helped feed the line of alcoholism that runs in my family, and even my awareness of it wasn’t enough to prevent me from developing an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. Let my story be a lesson. Think twice about your relationship with that glass of wine. Or Cosmo. Or whatever your drink of choice may be.
As a mom, I still have stress and anxiety [of a different nature], and my life gets overwhelming at times, I just don’t drink to try to calm myself. I am incredibly fortunate to have been so defeated by my drinking that I put the [wine] bottle down and never looked back (it wasn’t that simple, but you get the idea). I’m not perfect at finding ways to combat the stresses life throws at me, but I do know that a hike in the sun is one of the most effective remedies for me. Going to AA meetings and talking to other alcoholics helps too. Finding a good therapist isn’t a bad idea either.
So, yes, the term Mommy Juice scares the hell out of me for mom’s out there with the right [genetic] recipe for addiction. And it infuriates me that liquor companies continue this charade by marketing wines and liquors that make light of, and cater to, moms drinking for release (I won’t mention the names here because I don’t want to help market them).
Let me be completely clear — I don’t think that drinking is a bad thing, it’s simply a bad idea for me. I think that problem drinking, or drinking in response to things that happen in life is unhealthy. If you think you might have an unhealthy relationship with drinking alcohol, please reach out and tell someone. Reaching out to my, then, fiancé proved to be the lifeline that I needed, and kickstarted my road to recovery.
What are your thoughts about the term Mommy Juice? Do you think the media is inflating this issue? Is alcohol a staple in the playdates you attend? I’d love to hear from you!