I loathe the term “mommy juice.” LOATHE with a capital L. In fact, I will roll my eyes at it so much that even Liz Lemon would be proud. It sounds judgmental and harsh, and already I’m sure many readers are worked up reading this.
Full disclosure: I’m a mom in recovery. Four years sober. In fact I got pregnant about 8 minutes after I got sober. My entire parenting experience has been as a sober mom. I’m proud of that like a mutha, but I also full acknowledge that I’m looking at this “mommy juice” thing through that lens, so bear with me here.
Being a parent is fantastic. It really is. But it’s also one of the hardest things in the world. We are growing and raising human beings to be the best versions of themselves they can be, and that means lots of tantrums, tears (on both ends), frustrations, doubt, and just wondering if you are doing it right. At the end of another day where the kids are finally asleep and you need some downtime, many moms and caregivers relax with a glass of wine and some good TV. And they’ve earned it! However, lately it seems that moms are taking the “wine is my reward” and “mommy wine culture” and running with it to some potentially dangerous places.
That glass a night can easily into something much more frequent. Wine at playdates? Booze at the toddler birthdays? Actually putting pinot in the kids’ sippy cup? Yes, I get that many readers are nodding along and saying “yep, what’s wrong with that?” I don’t know what’s wrong with it, or if there is anything wrong with it, because I don’t do it.
However, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that between 2009 – 20014, approximately 10 percent of American kids lived in a home where at least one parent abused alcohol. It may not be my house (for the grace of God), or your house, but it’s someone’s house. With the normalization and encouragement of the mommy wine culture, it’s getting harder to identify alcohol abuse in any house.
Also, why do we call it “mommy juice?” It’s not juice. Not at all. It’s wine. Not all mommies want it and need it. To paint it as some special elixir that all moms covet minimizes that makes moms and other caregivers feel recharged and relaxed is honestly dangerous. And quite frankly, doesn’t it diminish us as moms and caregivers?
When did a glass of wine become the universal prize that all of us are reaching for? What kind of message does it send to the kids when we say “sweetie, Mommy needs this after a long day?” Why should we hand the kids some OJ and then say “Mommy has her own special juice, too!” Why can’t we just say “no this is wine, and it’s for grownups” the same way I say “no this is coffee, and it’s for grownups, not kids.”
I cringe when I see those coozies or tumblers with sayings like “My kid is why I drink” or “Nap time is wine time.” Neither of those are true. It’s not for me, and it’s not for a ton of moms in recovery. We can’t drink normally. We get it. You can. My alcoholism should not prevent you from having some Merlot, Chardonnay, or even some Boone’s Farm. But are those sayings really true?
My own vices include excessive amounts of Hulu, accompanied by nachos and La Croix. Neither are better or worse than booze (to me they’re better because I’m a drunk and will create chaos after a couple drinks). I just ask why we should put wine on the altar of things that define relaxation and the ultimate prize for moms. Something to think about, while I grab yet another sparkling water.