Coffee, Wine, and the Myths About Surviving Parenthood

Posted on March 13, 2018

I’m going to need a whole lot more coffee if I’m going to make it through the parenting years.

That’s the current narrative about parenting. After thousands of years of people having babies, our generation has it the worst. What with all our modern conveniences. And the low mortality rate. It’s just too much. We. Just. Can’t. #cantadulttoday

I haven’t seen a parenting meme I didn’t like. Throw together a funny picture with a snarky comment about a hard thing all parents have experienced, and I’m responding with a crying laughing emoji every time. 

But then I read an article proposing that memes and mommy blogs are normalizing using or abusing alcohol to cope with life stresses and rearing small children. And I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

Because it’s true, and it’s not just alcohol. It’s become socially acceptable, and hilarious, to depend on uppers (coffee) and downers (wine) to make it through the long days. To be the kind of parents we want to be. To relax.

We need these things!

And there is no judgment here.  I’ve done the same. I’ve asked myself, “At what point in the afternoon do I have to stop drinking coffee, and at what point can I break out the wine? Can I double fist it?” Especially in some really tough seasons of life. (Hello, husband’s deployment, I’m talking to you.)

But the other thing nagging at me was this – there’s a distinct negativity to the parenting culture as well. What goes along with our wine and our coffee is this notion that we need those things because parenting is just too difficult otherwise, too unpleasant. There’s no doubt we love our kids, but we just don’t like the job very much. In our attempts to be funny and to rally others around our feelings of overwhelm, we start to sound cynical. Unhappy. Ungrateful. 

Parenting memes and the like bring us together over our shared struggles with explosive diapers and sleepless nights. It feels good to relate and even to commiserate. But I feel like it starts innocent, and before we know it we’re just piling on. It’s too easy to say all of the hard things.

And I’m increasingly concerned about the messages I am sending to my children, who are now reading my social media posts and my blogs. (eek!) How are they interpreting my conversation with friends over my 4th cup of coffee? 

Are they hearing, “Parenting me is so hard, lots of coffee and wine are required to cope”?
Oops, that’s not what I’m going for.

Are they hearing, “My mom is so worn out all the time because I am a burden to her”?
Oh gosh, no.

Are they hearing, “Parenting must really suck. Maybe I don’t want to do that”?

My words are creating culture.

Reconsidering my language about parenting isn’t just for them. The negative joking makes me feel more negative, more entitled to complain, heavier. Dare I say, even a little depressed at times? 

I know that words are powerful, but I have been much more concerned about how my kids talk to each other than about how I talk to myself, the thoughts I cultivate about this parenthood job. 

The words I write and speak about parenthood are creating culture for my kids, for myself, and also for my friends.

My words matter. And I want my life to say loud and clear to my kids, “I am so lucky and thrilled to be your mom!” 
And, “Yes, life is hard sometimes, and I get tired, but you are worth every moment.” 
And, “I don’t need any substance to make me feel better or to cope. I can manage my feelings in healthy ways.”

When I choose my words more carefully, it changes the way I feel about parenting. And I deserve that. I deserve more than the doldrums and a “here goes another day….” attitude to life. I deserve a sense of satisfaction for the incredible amount of work I’m doing each day as a mom, even when I don’t see the intended results. (!!) 

I am someone who longed, desperately, for children for years. These kids are my greatest gift. Sometimes I need to remind myself and them of that fact. 

So I can dial the drama down a notch. Parenting my three kids in America is not something to be survived. Being a Syrian refugee is something to be survived, just for a point of reference, Angie. 

Let’s recap. 

1. I am not advocating giving up coffee or wine. 
2. I don’t think it’s possible to give up bad days or we would already be doing that.

I am advocating for living with more intention around our kids, considering the messages of our choices, of our conversations, of our social media. If that means I need to cut back on one or more substances to be a healthier parent, so be it. It’s a myth that we need these things in the first place. We’ve got this. This season of life is challenging but it’s also a treasure. I’m advocating for swinging the pendulum back toward positivity around this admittedly difficult thing called parenting.  

Do you agree that our culture has gone too far with the negative parent jokes and memes? What can we do to encourage each other instead? Let me know in the comments.

***

Original article referenced: How Mommy Drinking Culture Has Normalized Alcoholism for Women in America

  • Reply Angela March 21, 2018 at 1:06 pm

    Really good Angie!! Great perspective.

  • Reply Joan Kneeskern March 21, 2018 at 1:55 pm

    Always insightful.

    • Reply Angie March 21, 2018 at 6:51 pm

      Thank you for encouraging me to write more, Joan!

  • Reply Yanah March 21, 2018 at 2:15 pm

    Excellent post!

    • Reply Angie March 21, 2018 at 6:51 pm

      Thank you Yanah!

  • Reply Bonnie March 21, 2018 at 4:22 pm

    Wow Angie, You have brought up a very important point. I have many friends with children that I have wondered about how negatively they present being a mother. As I read your blog I realize now they may not feel any differently about it than I did, but the way they express it has left me feeling sad. I’ve wondered about how they are missing the joy of parenting. Now I see they aren’t missing the joy…they are just expressing the struggles. You are right. It creates a culture of discontent. I had huge struggles parenting (just ask my kids!) but I was so very grateful to be a mom that the struggles were not what I expressed, at least that’s not what I remember. I also didn’t have social media or memes. I don’t know how to turn this around but you’ve done a huge service by bringing it up. As I care for my disabled daughter and mother with ALZ I resonate with all those caregiver memes too, and I need/want to focus more on the gift these beautiful women are in my life instead of how freaking tire I am! Thank you Angie. I love you girl!

    • Reply Angie March 21, 2018 at 6:50 pm

      Thanks for sharing that Bonnie. I wonder if some of it is related to temperament. I am more of a glass half empty kind of person. I don’t want to be that way, but it’s my natural tendency to notice everything I’m unhappy with. That really affects how I feel about my home, how my kids are behaving, and how life is going in general. And I’ve noticed that in this current climate, it would be easy for me to just give in to that and accept it as status quo. I know in my heart that my kids are a blessing and that I will miss these years when they’re gone. But that is often not what my feelings are telling me!!! For me it is a constant training my eyes on what’s good, and on God’s goodness toward us. And when I do that, my feelings really do change. But it makes me wonder if some of the women that are more openly negative about parenting are struggling in this way too, or maybe deal with depression which makes everything feel hard, or are facing some challenge that others don’t know about. I think it’s likely. Just some thoughts.

  • Reply Aja March 21, 2018 at 5:41 pm

    Considering your post, I wonder why our culture has taken this shift in attitude towards parenting. Perhaps it is because this is the first time in our history that not having children is culturally acceptable. In past times in history, even a successful wealthy person wasn’t truly considered successful unless they had children. And certainly no woman was relevant without children. Being a parent brought a status in and of itself. Now, with the culture we live in, it is completely acceptable to not have children. With the turn the feminist movement took, much of society looks down on women who decide to make parenting their “career”. With that shift in attitude, perhaps moms feel they need to be louder in order to feel relevant. So they scream “Hey this is a hard job!” Also, I think this is the first time in history that we have touted how hard parenting is, is this because we are making it more hard for the first time in history? It’s not enough to be raising viable human beings, but we also need to make sure they eat organic, wear cloth diapers, homeschool them, have chalkboard walls in our homes with new artistic charts and inspirational quotes each week, the kids need to be in five different activities… and on and on it goes. Yeah! Being a Pinterest mom is hard! Why do we do it? Because we have somehow gotten the idea that anything less is underserving our kids? Or because we feel being anything less makes our role as parents less respected?

    Again, the woman without kids weighs in, but I do wonder about our mentality towards parenting these days. In every other time in history, having children was viewed as an ease in life’s burdens. Now we seem to have the opposite view. Why is this?

    • Reply Angie March 21, 2018 at 6:43 pm

      I agree with you and you are welcome to weigh in anytime. 🙂 I think women are trying to be everything to everyone, to be the sexy GF/wife, to be the domestic goddess who is organized and minimalist and can cook anything, and to be all the things you mentioned for our kids. I think we put way too much pressure on ourselves, and probably social media contributes to that. I think we also see that a lot of kids don’t grow up and make the choices we hope they will make for their lives, so starting at Kindergarten they have to go to the best schools and eat the best foods, etc. in hopes that they will turn out okay. But I hadn’t considered what you said about the parenting role being unappreciated and there is probably something to that, to wanting to be heard. A lot of the working women I know are still bearing the lion’s share of the household and childcare work, even when both spouses work. Maybe they just enjoy doing those things, but it’s incredibly stressful to carry all of that. But I also think some of it is a trend. It’s funny and cool to say these things about ourselves, to joke about how hard everything is. And I think it feeds into whatever negativity or difficulty we are actually feeling. So we go from feeling a little discontent to a lot discontent pretty quickly and then just hang out there, because EVERYONE is feeling the same way. So it must be normal to feel totally strung out as a parent. ? I think with anything in life, the way we feel has a lot to do with what we’re focusing on.

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