I had the idea for this blog post after a conversation with a friend in which she said that nearly every mother she knows has a problematic relationship with alcohol. That got me thinking about my own friends. I’m pretty sure that I know plenty of mums who are fine with alcohol and don’t have a problem. But then I thought about all the times on Facebook that I’ve seen memes about mums needing alcohol to get through the day.
I began with the idea of writing about parents and alcohol, but when I searched for images, they were all about mums drinking wine. Even when I specifically searched for images about dads and alcohol, most of the memes tended to be along these lines:
The message is clear: mums can’t cope without wine. There are plenty of memes about mums with drink problems, but why do we find them funny?
Drinking alcohol can be a maladaptive way of coping with stressful situations. Parenting is full of stressful situations, some of which are alluded to in these memes – bedtimes, being at home all day, toddlers who get into everything, spending hours cooking food that your kids refuse to eat. But why is it funny that we turn to wine to deal with it all? Would it be funny if it was about other maladaptive ways of dealing with stress? If you saw a meme showing a mum self-harming as a coping mechanism, would you have a little chuckle about it? Probably not. So why do we laugh at these memes?
I don’t mean to sound preachy or sanctimonious. I’ve smiled at these images myself, and I’ve made “funny” comments about it being “wine o’clock”. And I’m not saying mums shouldn’t drink. I drink wine. But I do find it worrying that so many mums seem to rely on alcohol to get through the day and I wonder why this is the case.
Do mums need more support from their partners? I know many mums have no partners, so who can they turn to for support? How do you get support if you are on your own all day with you children without a break, and then after you’ve put them to bed, with no help, you are still alone? Should there be more support in the community or from the state? In many societies, childcare is more of a communal effort; you’ve probably heard the phrase, “it takes a village to raise a child”. Is that how we should be doing things? Most children are raised behind closed doors with the vast majority of the responsibility being piled onto the mother once Dad has gone back to work and the health visitor and midwife have performed their duties and satisfied themselves that mother and baby are doing fine. Would we even welcome an entire village coming along and poking their noses into our parenting? I’m not sure I would.
Or maybe I’m over-thinking things and these are just some quite funny memes that a lot of us can relate to. I don’t know. I don’t have the answers but I would welcome your opinions.