The Mommy Juice Culture - Part 1

Published: Nov. 19, 2018 at 2:36 PM EST
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Any mother will tell you - being a mom is one of the most rewarding - and stressful - jobs in the world.

Social media's response to that stress is often to grab a glass of wine.

But that's also promoting the potential for even more concerns for women.

You've probably heard the phrases - signs you're a wine mom, it's wine o'clock somewhere.

A mom and blogger from Winterport took a closer look at society's messages for moms.

Now she's hoping to change that culture.

"I felt like I was telling a secret. It felt like I was cheating and spilling somebody's personal business."

Sarah Cottrell rarely gets nervous before her blogs are published for moms across the country.

But the night before her most powerful piece to date posted, she couldn't sleep.

"It's like a thing we all know, but to be someone who says it out loud was nerve-racking."

In the end Cottrell - who's a Disney Babble writer - was surprisingly overwhelmed by the positive reaction to the blog: "How mommy drinking culture has normalized alcoholism for woman in America."

Which started with a look at her own life.

"I thought, you know I really do drink wine a lot. In the afternoon. Like all of the time. And I couldn't remember a time I didn't have a glass of wine with dinner. Or like right before bed. And I don't know if I would say it was an extreme drinking problem, but it was definitely eye opening."

Then she looked at the world around her - where social media memes and blogs are everywhere, encouraging moms to wash away their worries with wine. Retailers are cashing in on the concept, too, reminding women that mommin' ain't easy.

Bottom line, Cottrell says, it sells.

"And the wine companies know this, the meme makers know this and the editors know this."

"As a culture, we tend to use humor to cope with things we are uncomfortable with."

Jim LaPierre is the Executive Director of Higher Ground Services in Brewer and a licensed clinical social worker.

"Alcohol and caffeine are unique from all other drugs in that they are not only socially accepted, they are sanctioned and they're accepted. When you couple that with the types of pressures that all mothers tend to face, it becomes something that folks are looking for an outlet from, and so alcohol provides that sense of ready relief."

A message that's hard to escape.

Cottrell says, "When you're constantly told over and over and over again, honey, it's okay if you want to drink wine. You're a mom, you're stressed out, you should be drunk right now. Some women who legitimately have a problem will take that as permission."

Cottrell's blog was first published a year ago but has been reposted and shared countless times.

The response is always raw and real.

"I'm ten years sober, or I just got sober and these are moms who are in our communities, volunteering at the PTA, they're running bake sales and doing all of the things you'd just never associate with having an alcohol problem. And that was the most shocking thing to me."

Cottrell says she and other writers for major publications are making a conscious effort to change the wine mom message, no longer posting the memes and encouraging women to build each other up.

"We need to make being sober and the word sobriety normalized so that moms can feel normal showing up at a party and saying seltzer water, please."

She always wants moms who do want a glass of wine at three in the afternoon to feel comfortable with that choice, too,

"I've heard from moms who are super frustrated - please stop projecting your alcoholism on me. There's room for both ideas in the same dialogue in our culture. That women can be all kinds of things, but if they have a problem, they can seek help without judgment. And that's the most important thing."

In Part 2 of The Mommy Juice Culture, we'll meet a mom who's a recovering alcoholic and now a licensed alcohol and drug counselor, helping women like her.

We'll also see how you can find out if alcohol is causing concerns in your life.

To see Sarah Cottrell's original blog post, check the link on the right hand side of this page.