If you’ve ever uttered the phrase “It’s wine-o-clock!” then you might cringe a bit reading Alice Gomstyn’s recent Babble.com piece, in which she asks two very fair questions: Do moms online joke around about boozing it up too much? Is it potentially harmful to us as a group – encouraging risky or dangerous behaviors – to make drinking to excess seem not just socially acceptable, but as a motherhood must?
As I read Gomstyn’s piece, I at first found myself nodding along. While I’m not above making an occasional “bring wine NOW” joke via text to my best friends, joking about hitting the sauce is something I’ve tried hard not to do too much in my online life.
For one thing, several of my social media friends are in recovery, and I like to be sensitive to the idea that maybe-just-maybe it’s not the most fun thing in the world to hear about the hilariously stress-relieving affects of wine when, for you, wine is anything but fun and games.
Not only that, but I cringe sometimes when people post a little too much about their love of “mommy juice,” wondering if they realize how several of those status updates in a row might be taken by the rest of the world.
On the other hand, does the responsibility to not trigger others really lie with me and other bloggers? In the piece, Heather King, a mother of three who is sober and writes often about recovery issues put it like this:
“I always tell people, when they apologize for talking about drinking or for drinking in front of me, that my problem is not their problem.”
It came as a relief when Heather said essentially the same thing to me a year or two ago, when I had the pleasure of rooming with her at a blogging conference. Otherwise I might have felt a little awkward about the glass of wine I had before we headed up to bed.
As it was, the two of us stayed up giggling like a couple of seventh graders until 3 AM, proving that you can have an awfully fun, silly time without keeping the wine flowing.
Still, though, at the end of the day it was good to know that Heather was responsible for her choices and I was responsible for mine.
As moms, we already have so many people to be responsible for beside ourselves, right? An off-the-cuff remark about almost anything – food, booze, sex, religion – could be a trigger for somebody.
And I guess that’s what it comes down to, for me. It’s never a bad idea to be sensitive to our audiences. There is a certain delicacy I keep in mind when dealing with a large and mostly unknown audience that I might not worry so much about when I’m in a small room with my closest friends.
But at the same time, we can’t avoid ever triggering anyone, and when it comes right down to it, the people I really owe my best, my most thoughtful filtering, are my kids, my spouse, and myself.
And it comes down to both words and actions. I owe it to myself to be honest about the way I interact with alcohol, and I owe it to my family to set a good example.
Kids learn both from what we do and from what we say. One too many “you’re driving me to drink!” jokes might start to seem like the truth, especially when accompanied by the familiar glug-glug-glug in the glass.
None of us are perfect. We’re all prone to bad habits and less-than-perfect choices, and our children will learn that soon enough. But they will also learn by the way we own our words and actions and change them when needed.
So if, on further inspection, you feel your Facebook feed contains a few too many “Mommy’s hiding in the closet with a bottle of vodka” style memes, you aren’t alone. It doesn’t make you a bad person, or necessarily a problem drinker, but it might be worth looking at more closely.
But personally, I’d worry more about what’s going on in your house.
And maybe that’s where these memes tend to fall flat for me: if other moms really are drinking as much – and with the same amount of desperation – as our collective social conversation implies, the jokes stop being funny, and stop being something I want to participate in.
But when I think about who might be most affected by the perception – whether skewed or truthful - it’s not other moms I think about: it’s the next generation of kids, who are watching, listening, and reading right along with us.
*The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Century Council or any Century Council member.*