I’d like to preface this post with an admission. I’ve been avoiding publishing this since January. I’ve been worried about what the reaction might be, I’ve been worried that people might feel judged and I’ve been worried about my own reaction. Because here’s the thing, by publishing this I have to really step up and tackle my own relationship with wine. I have to draw some lines. If I’m calling out a culture that is hurting and affecting women, I need to not be a hypocrite in my own life and I need to cut out the thing that’s hurting and affecting me. Although I’m not in trouble yet, how far will I let it go? How far would I let a friend go?
Let’s get this out of the way. I love wine. Love love it. I come from a family of wine lovers, I live in France, my in-laws have spectacular taste in wine. I am not standing in judgement of any wine lover, any mother, or any drinker – addict or otherwise – at all. I’ve spent most of my working life in pubs, bars and restaurants – as has my husband – and we have both, at different times been heavy drinkers and tee-total.
This is not a post about wine per say. It’s more a post about the things we as mothers are using as crutches and wine happens to be the biggest one and, in my opinion, the most dangerous. Because let’s be honest, when we’re counting down the minutes until we can pour ourselves a nice crisp glass of white every single day, there’s a problem.
This whole issue stems from something good – the honest mother bloggers, the mum’s who tell each other the honest truth, that parenting – particularly motherhood, is hard; here, have a glass of wine. Relax, un-wind. You deserve it. I get it. And you DO deserve to treat yourself, you DO deserve something adult that’s yours. We spend so much of our lives now tied so closely to our children, never alone, their music on the radio, their toys littering our previously glamorous lives that that six o’clock glass of wine has almost become a symbol of our old selves. An act of rebellion, an act of freedom that our children cannot partake in.
The thing is though, with this wine o’clock rhetoric is that it’s dangerous. Whilst you – the generally happy mum who finds motherhood challenging, but is not depressed, who has a messy house, but is not about to be evicted with your three children and nowhere to go, who likes a glass or two on the odd occasion, but does not struggle with addiction – you can moderate, there are 100 other mums who can’t. I realise that this is a point of personal responsibility, but we also have a responsibility to each other. When every single mother on social media seems to be declaring Wine O’clock every single night at six PM, heavy drinking seems normalised. Well – everyone else is doing it, so I can’t have a problem. The thing is that I know at least three of these lovely ladies who are huge Wine O’clock proclaimers, who in fact rarely drink and have zero problems regulating themselves.
My wonderful, sensible friend Michelle would point out here that your treat might not necessarily be booze related. The “You Deserve It” mentality is giving us free reign to hurt ourselves. YES you deserve a treat, NO you don’t need to eat a whole tub of ice-cream every night. YES you deserve a nice glass of wine occasionally, NO you don’t need one every night. YES you deserve nice clothes, NO you shouldn’t go on a spending spree with money you don’t have.
Alcohol in general is certainly socially acceptable in most places now and, along with food and shopping, is an addiction that has become socially acceptable too. I think it’s very easy to forget that alcohol is a drug and when we replace “I’ve had a hard day and I need a glass of wine now” with “I’ve had a hard day and I need a line of coke now” suddenly that doesn’t seem OK. Are we getting to the point where we as mothers need to re-evaluate what we use at the end of the day to relax?
For all of these reasons, I’m calling an end to my personal Wine O’Clocks. No more cheers selfies sent to my Whats App groups. I’m not going to celebrate addiction anymore – even when it’s wrapped up in the pretty packaging of a deserving, over-worked mother.