Coffee, Wine, and the Myths About Surviving Parenthood
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.
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