Mommy wine culture... 1/4/20
Updated: Feb 8
The evolution of the mommy wine culture is a topic that has been widely discussed in the sober support groups for the last several years. This isn't anything new. Moms began to come out and take a stance against this culture as soon as it became glorified, bringing to light the issues this concept so obviously ignored. Promiting functional alcoholism. Teaching our kids that alcohol is the only way to cope. Making kids feel like burdens. Etc. There is obviously so much wrong with this idea. Yet, I found myself immersed in it.
At first, I found a mom group in Boston when my oldest was a baby. We would walk the streets of Back Bay in the afternoons and discuss nap schedules, sleep sacks and tummy time techniques. Occasionally, we would stop by someone's apartment at the end of our stroll for a beer or glass of wine to cheers and rewards ourselves for all the hard work we had endured that week. But that was it. It never really escalated past that. Eventually, once I had more than one child and things became more demanding for me, the need for mommy bonding time became more dire. I needed social connection and to get the heck out of my house. At the same time, my need for alcohol was becoming more dire as well. Also, at this point, I had moved out of the city, into suburbia. Connection to other moms was necessary. Leaving the city was hard and isolation settled down on me like a heavy blanket that winter of 2012.
Regardless, we stayed in Newton for about two years, but it never really felt like home. We did have another baby in that short time of being there though. So by the time we got to Needham we had three kids. And Needham finally felt like the right place for us. The perfect town with quiet, little family friendly neighborhoods.
By the time I moved to Needham and created a group of friends that were not only close in age to me (for some reason I was always the youngest in the mom groups!) and not only did they have kids the same age as my children, but they also liked to drink. And I thought I had hit the jackpot! Many of us ran into each other on the soccer fields, at the gym, the grocery store and ended up joining the same country club. I had found my little group and it was great. Friday afternoon playgroups with endless bottles of wine turned into family dinners around the fire pit. Tuesday evening baseball games included coolers of spiked seltzers and beers for the dads. Family BBQs on Sunday afternoons outside were always a given and the booze flowed all afternoon into the evening and well past bedtime. The party never stopped. And neither did my drinking.
It seemed as though my behavior was much like my friends'. We all brought at least two bottles of wine to every party, and we all went drink for drink when we were together. Or so I thought.
This is the train ride that I was on. I just rode it, nonstop. Never recognizing that maybe not everyone was going the same speed as me.
I remember taking a moms trip to Naples, Florida one week and leaving my husband and kids behind. This is a hard memory and one that was a definite wake up call. One of those moments that made me question my drinking in the past. But this was two years ago...
When we went away for a girls weekends with the Needham ladies, we really let loose. We didn't hold back and we went all out, because the kids weren't on our mind one bit. We drank morning, noon and night, and I think some of the ladies brought a harder game than I did at times. I never faltered though.
The memory is fuzzy, but it still hurts. I had been drinking for about three days straight, nearing the end of the trip. It was a Saturday evening, close to 10pm, having arrived on a Wednesday late at night. We were getting out of an Uber after a fancy dinner and evening of dancing at one of the cheesy bars downtown. I barely remember this evening - the dinner or dancing. My only memories from that day are earlier on at the beach club and pool, drinking rum drinks and tequila shots in the early afternoon, but I think I was coming out of a blackout late that night as I emerged from the car, because I remember stepping out of the Uber. I remember trying to talk to my girlfriends and the driver, and the next thing I know I was flat out on the pavement and everyone was screaming my name.
After that, my next memory is waking up in my bed fully dressed around 5AM. My face was so incredibly swollen and sore. I ran to the bathroom and it was bruised and the blackness around my eye was already forming. The scary part was I had zero memory of what happened and none of my friends were there in my room. I didn't remember falling at that point. I couldn't remember anything from the night. It was as if the ENTIRE night was erased from my memory. I don't even know if I had my phone. My ID. I panicked.
I ran downstairs to my friends room, where I found two of my girlfriends passed out. I woke them frantic and asked them what the fuck happened to me. The one friend in my crew explained to me that I passed out and smacked my face on the curb after getting out of the Uber last night. The memory slowed began to come back into focus. Just that small little snapshot, like a polaroid developing. But that was it. Dinner and dancing - still gone from my brain. And I didn't remember getting into the house after my fall, which was why I was still dressed. Apparently, I was pretty much incoherent and they had to drag me inside.
So, I had fallen on my face and given myself a black eye. Hence, the swollen, excruciatingly painful face. I remember. My friends sat there and stared at me with sadness and pity in their eyes, explaining that they almost called 911 because they couldn't wake me up. But, I came to. Sort of. I was alive. Barely. Just very battered. Physically and emotionally.
I ended up calling my husband later that day and asking him to change my flight. I went home to Needham that evening instead of the planned two days later. I couldn't stay. But, I got very drunk on the flight home. I cried myself to sleep on the plane in a drunken stupor, angry and embarrassed about my black eye, imagining what it would have been like for my friends to call my husband to tell him I was in the hospital. Or worse.
I stopped drinking for a little while after that weekend, but that wasn't my rock bottom. That obviously wasn't the end of the drinking road for me.
That was nearly two years ago. I continued to mess up many, many more times. I continued to bruise and batter my body. Blackout over and over and over again. Hurt myself. Hurt my husband.
I don't blame my friends for any of this, because I am not their responsibility to catch me when I fall or to clean up my mess. But was it the mommy wine culture though that has enabled our group of friends to drink with reckless abandon? Throw caution to the wind to say "Fuck it! Being a mom is hard, we deserve a break!" And then over time without realizing it, we have enabled each other's bad habits without even realizing it? We think we are being supportive friends, but in the end we are only hurting ourselves.
I don't blame anyone for these mistakes I have made. I know my friends couldn't have done anything differently along the way to change what I was doing. Only I was able to do this for myself now, because no one knew what was truly going on in my head. I don't know how these friendships will shift as my journey into sobriety strengthens, for so much of my time with a lot of these friends has been spent with a wine glass in hand. I hope that down the road, we can come together in new ways outside of this mommy wine culture.