Mothers Who Drink — the New Normal

Published by Wednesday Martin

A girlfriend with kids the same age as mine texted me the other day. "Call me so we can have a drink," she suggested. She meant, call me so we can chat on the phone while we have a glass of wine. Because it was 5:30 and because like most of the women with children we know, we're mothers who drink.

Back in the late 90's there was a column called "Mothers Who Think." It was a breakout concept — mothers excavating their day-to-day lives in print, writing about everything from trying to have a sex life as a single parent to losing your sh*t when your baby has colic. The lives of mothers, the column suggested, were important and interesting. It asserted "There are lots of mothers who think."

Fast forward to now and the idea behind Mothers Who Think, the idea that mothers need a voice, is almost quaint. Mothering is the hottest topic on the internet and a goldmine of a marketing niche. is the mother of all mommy blogs, with over nine million visitors per month — there are thousands of mommy blogs now. And what do we write about and do more than anything else? As far as I can tell, those of us who write blogs and read them and those of us who try to sell stuff to mothers and those mothers who buy stuff are now, among other things, Mothers Who Drink. We have internalized the notion that mothering matters, motherhood is an important undertaking and it's fine if you work or stay at home while you mother, if you have a nanny or you don't, if you are on the PTA or you skip it. But whether we stay at home or go to work, whether we send our kids to public school or private school, whether we live in Arizona or Manhattan, what we have in common, it seems, is that we drink. In unprecedented numbers, and in unprecedented amounts.

If you are among the nation of Mothers Who Drink, you know what I'm talking about. You know it so well that it hardly seems like news to you. "Yes, of course I have a drink or two or three, after my kids are in bed. Duh." Bars host baby-friendly happy hours for hipster mothers in Brooklyn. At Moms Night Out, the wine flows freely. It's nothing for my girlfriends and I to have three or four glasses. Some of us have switched to vodka and tequila — the wine makes it hard to sleep when you're dealing with hormonal fluctuations and other stresses of having little kids in a big town. Even arts and crafts venues where we take our kids serve wine. Because when it's raining and you and the kids are going bonkers, some chardonnay makes enduring that paint a piggy bank activity a lot more palatable.

We drink. A lot. Stephanie Wilder-Taylor wrote about it (Sippy Cups are Not for Chardonnay; Naptime is the New Happy Hour) before she went to rehab. The phenomenon is under studied, under considered, under discussed. It's something we just do, and the sociologists will have to catch up with us — it usually takes them a decade to diagnosis social shifts that are this big, and this under the radar.

Marketers, as usual, are on to us. Especially the ones who are mothers. Mommy Juice wines was founded by a mother of three who is also a wine expert and a shrewd marketing professional. She lulls us in on the Mommy Juice website with this:

"Being a mom is a constant juggling act. Whether it’s playdates and homework, diapers and burp cloths, or finding that perfect balance between work and home, Moms everywhere deserve a break. So tuck your kids into bed, sit down and have a glass of MommyJuice — because you deserve it!"

Mad Housewife Wine and Mommy's Time Out are just two other vintners who have caught on that we are now a nation of Mothers Who Drink, positioning wine as an upmarket and acceptable reward at the end of the day. Wine, Mad Housewife tells us, is "something to look forward to at the end of each and every day. This is your time. Time to enjoy a moment to yourself. A moment without the madness."

There are two groups of people who drink alone, drink every day, and drink to excess. They are mothers of young children, and alcoholics. Sometimes the motherhood is an excuse to drink, a convenient cover for alcoholism. But sometimes motherhood drives us to drink.  Motherhood is anxiety-provoking ("How do I get my kid into a top tier school?") and sometimes it's downright terrifying (a trip to the E.R. prompted Stephanie Wilder-Taylor to observe what many moms who've wound up there likely felt: "This would be a great place for a bar!") Previous generations of mothers did drink, it's true. But they never had this much support--from marketers, from bloggers, from their peers--and they never did it this openly. Mothers Who Drink is the new normal.