This Joke We Make About Wine-Drinking Moms Is Actually Really Screwed Up
"Mommy Juicebox." "Wine not Whine." "It's Wine o'clock." Jokes about moms and drinking are a huge part of parenting culture. In fact, the idea that moms need a glass of wine after the kids go to bed in order to cope with the stress of parenting is so common and pervasive that most of us don't really think about how screwed up the "mommy needs a drink" joke actually is.
The "mommy loves her wine" message is ubiquitous: it can be found on shirts, wall decor and of course on wine glasses. And some moms can and do have the occasional or even nightly glass of wine without issue. But for others, that one glass can turn into two, which can turn into a whole bottle. And for women who are struggling with alcohol addiction, the culture-wide joke that they should drink as soon as the kids go to bed isn't funny, it's downright cruel.
For the record, there's nothing wrong with enjoying wine responsibly. Parenting is freaking hard, and parents are under a tremendous amount of pressure. Forget about raising a child who is kind and smart and feels supported and loved: these days, that's not nearly enough. People today will question your motives behind all of your parenting choices, from the type of diaper you use to whether or not you're introducing your infant to foreign languages on a regular basis.
Unless you're a sanctimonious, #blessed kind of mom, or your name is Mary Poppins, you need something to cope with the stress that comes with raising a tiny human. So it makes sense why someone might want a glass of wine after a day of dealing with that kind of pressure. But rather than examine why this happens, and recognize the unhealthy levels of stress parents are dealing with, we laugh at the fact that mommies (never, it must be noted, daddies) "need" wine to cope with the stress of parenting.
We may view moms needing their wine as one big joke, but for moms who might be struggling with substance abuse, there's nothing funny about the suggestion that they toast bedtime with a glass or two. Alcoholism is the 4th leading preventable cause of death, with around 26,000 women dying from alcohol-related causes each year, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). While drinking a 5-oz. glass of alcohol each day may have positive health benefits, like lowering your risk of heart disease, diabetes, or certain types of stroke, it's no secret that drinking too much over a long period of time can have a serious impact on how your body functions. It can affect your heart, brain, liver, pancreas and even mess with your immune system.
Where are the "Mommy Needs To Go For A Run" mugs? Or the "It's Meditation O'clock" shirts?"
Yes, drinking might help take the edge of listening to Peppa Pig all afternoon. Yet we don't encourage moms to pop pills or smoke or even skydive, even though drinking excessive amounts of alcohol has the potential to be equally hazardous to our health. So why do we think it's hilarious when moms declare that they need a drink, stat?
Even if we're going to ignore the fact that parents are expected to shoulder way too much responsibility, drinking isn't the only way to deal with stress. Where are the "Mommy Needs To Go For A Run" mugs? Or the "It's Meditation O'clock" shirts?" Why have we decided that the funniest way to cope with our parenting problems lies in the bottom of a wine glass? No one's ever suggested I try bullet journaling to handle keeping track of all of my boys' appointments and activities, but "you deserve an extra glass tonight!" is something that's been posted by a well-meaning acquaintance more than once on social media .
Telling a mom to go have a drink is problematic for someone who has a drinking problem. And for someone like me, who genuinely prefers a cupcake over a glass of cab, it's isolating to feel like you're the only mom who's not ending the day glass in hand.
Even if all of your drinking happens after the kids goes down and you're a unicorn who doesn't get hangovers that leave you dragging your feet in the morning, joking about moms who drink can still have a negative impact on our children. Whether or not you personally have a drinking problem, our babies won't be adorable yet clueless little blobs forever. One day, they'll be old enough to read that "Mommy needs her wine" glass on their own, or come across the endless mom/wine memes online. Jokes about needing wine to deal with parenting could lead a child to draw the conclusion that their mother needs to intoxicate herself in order to deal with them, or that they're something they're doing wrong in their behavior which forces their mother to drink.
These "Mommy needs her wine" jokes are tired AF. Aren't we sick of gimmicky wine sippy cups and wine memes?
The "Mommy needs her wine" joke gets even worse when you consider how sexist it is. It's 2017. Many partners co-parent their children, and more and more men are taking on the role of stay-at-home-parent. And yet, jokes about Dads or non-binary parents pining for a glass of wine by the end of the day aren't a thing. "Sounds like Daddy needs a drink" isn't a part of our lexicon. Dads are more present in their children's lives than ever, yet the stereotype that mom is the primary caregiver and therefore must be the one who most needs a glass at the end of the night persists.
Beyond the fact that it's gross to joke about moms needing to drink when you don't know who's battling an addiction, these "Mommy needs her wine" jokes are tired AF. Aren't we sick of gimmicky wine sippy cups and wine memes? Is there anyone left on the planet who doesn't get the "whine" and "wine" connection?
When we propagate the mom/wine stereotype, what we are really saying is that we're fine with the cultural pressure on moms being so great that it prompts women to reach for the pinot grigio. Shouldn't we be trying to figure out how to fix the way we view motherhood so that when moms lift a glass, they're doing it because they're celebrating their role, not trying to escape from it?
We need to do better: for our kids, yes, but also for each other and for ourselves. As moms, we shouldn't allow ourselves to be in a position where our role is so hard that people joke the only way to survive it is by having a drink, even if that glass of rose is nice and chilled.