Wine, Coffee, and Surviving Parenthood
Recently, my friend Jenn pointed me to an article challenging the notion that we moms need our glass of wine each night to make it through parenthood. (I’m summarizing significantly.) And I’ve been thinking about it ever since.
The article was saying that memes and mommy blogs are normalizing using (and sometimes abusing) alcohol to cope with life stresses and rearing small children. I couldn’t help but agree.
It has become socially acceptable to lean on both our legal uppers (coffee) and downers (wine) to make it through the long days. To be the kind of parents we want to be. To relax.
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?” Especially in some really tough seasons of life. (Hello, husband’s deployment, I’m talking to you.)
But the other thing really 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 (my) attempts to be funny, to commiserate, to rally others around our feelings of overwhelm, we start to sound cynical. Unhappy. Ungrateful.
I love the parenting jokes. I do. It’s good to relate to others over our struggles and our fatigue. But I feel like it starts innocent, commiserating about sleepless nights and tantrums over peas, and then we’re just piling on. It’s too easy to say all of the hard things.
But I’m increasingly aware of what messages I am sending to my children, who are now reading my social media posts and my blogs. (gasp!) What are they hearing when I’m chatting with my friends over my 4th cup of coffee? 😉
Are they hearing, “Parenthood is so tough, lots of coffee and wine are required to get through it.”?
Oops, that’s not what I’m going for.
Are they hearing, “My mom is so worn out all the time because we are a burden to her.”?
Oh gosh, no.
Are they hearing, “Parenting must really suck. Maybe I don’t want to do that.”?
But changing my language about parenting, isn’t just for them. The negative slanted jokes make me feel more negative, more entitled to complain, heavier. Dare I say, maybe even a little depressed at times?
I think we all know that words are powerful, but I have been much more concerned about how my kids talk to each other and to other kids than about how I talk to myself.
My words about parenthood are creating culture for my kids, for myself, and also for my friends.
My words matter. So I want to put out more positive than negative. I want my kids to hear loud and clear through my life, “I am so crazy 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 control my own feelings and take responsibility for them.”
When I choose my words more carefully, it changes the way I feel about parenting this family.
We deserve more than this.
More than the doldrums and a “here goes another day….” attitude to life. I deserve joy for the incredible amount of work I’m doing each day as a mom. I deserve a sense of satisfaction for my efforts, even if I don’t always see the intended results. (!!) I deserve contentment.
I am someone who longed, desperately, for children for years. These kids are my greatest gift, my greatest miracle. Sometimes I need to remind myself and them of that fact. That’s the truth about us.
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, our social media. If that means cutting back on one or more substances, so be it. I’m advocating swinging the pendulum back toward positivity around this admittedly difficult season of life 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 us know in the comments.
Original article referenced: How Mommy Drinking Culture Has Normalized Alcoholism for Women in America