Sipping and Sinning: Are Moms Who Drink a New Kind of Parent?
- Meg Gemelli Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2018 8 Oct
“Now may God give you of the the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and an abundance of grain and new wine…” (Genesis 27:28)
I’d been looking forward to my night of Bunco with the girls for days. Having heard about the game since moving to the south 15 years prior, I still hadn’t had the chance to play. When a friend invited me to join her group one Friday night, I jumped at the opportunity. Midwesterners like me aren’t known for playing Bunco, but we’re no strangers to weekend gatherings over a deck of cards, dice, or a board game.
As a young girl, I looked forward to setting up our card tables around our living room each weekend. As the sun set, neighbors would arrive with snacks and their favorite drinks--eager for a chance to unwind after a long week. Euchre was usually the game, and scribbled onto our white-bricked chimney, was a running tally of the “guys versus girls” scores in black marker.
I loved those memories and couldn’t wait to return to my roots. I thought Bunco would be similar, but was surprised when I mentioned my plans to a friend. “I never knew you were a big drinker,” she commented and looked at me questioningly.
“I don’t follow,” I responded, and spent the next few minutes getting schooled in southern drinking culture. As it turns out, Bunco has a reputation for being the housewives’ drinking game--a reason to gather tired wives and moms around a set of dice and a few glasses of wine. Relaxation and laughter is the goal.
Who knew? I had a choice to make.
Ultimately, I attended the gathering, but with the new information hovering in the back of my mind. The dear friend who invited me wouldn’t have done so if she’d predicted any shenanigans that would compromise our shared faith. It was a nice night meeting new women from surrounding neighborhoods (sans the aforementioned shenanigans, though alcohol was available among other beverages).
That being said, the “drinking mom culture” has taken on a life of its own in the past few years. Take for instance the most popular hashtags on social media:
#BringWine #WineWednesday #Its5oclocksomewhere #InstaWine #WineoftheDay #WineLife
Comedians, YouTubers, and moms-next-door connect over cheaply fermented grapes and an excuse to joke about jobs, kids, and husbands. The memes come by the hundreds. I’ll be the first to admit that some of them make me giggle, if only because I can relate to the chaos of family life.
Blowing off steam over a “sophisticated” cocktail, glass of wine, or sparkling ale has become a socially acceptable way for women to connect, both inside, and outside the church depending on denomination. Moms meet for play dates and mimosas, they run races together and slug cold beers at the finish line, and many lug their wine glasses around the kitchen, bathroom, and bedrooms, getting their kids ready for bed.
It’s become a part of some women’s routines, and the latest statistics prove as much.
Many would insist that drinking isn’t a sin, as long as they don’t become intoxicated. For some moms, it really is that simple. But for others, drinking has resulted the neglect of important responsibilities related to motherhood. It gets worse is when frequent drinking leads to dependency, addiction, or a distracted woman who moves through important life events in a distanced haze.
The words quoted above from Genesis 27:28 were not likely meant to refer to an abundance of wine in this proportion. The new social norm begs the question, “Are moms who drink a new kind of parent?
Here are a few trends affecting women that we need to consider before answering that question.
1. Though drinking isn’t a new phenomenon, women’s excessive participation in the activity is.
Do you want to give wine glasses as a gift to your mom friend? A quick search on Pinterest turns up three separate options within seconds:
“I drink wine like a mother.”
“It’s mom’s turn to wine.”
And as I scroll through the results, there are dozens more just like those.
Moms who drink--it’s a thing now--an identity that some cling to in their most frenzied and frustrated moments as parents. What began as a way to joke about the perils of raising kids, now entices women via social media to “take the edge off” their real lives.
The occasional glass of wine once reported by women at their yearly check-ups has grown substantially in number. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines high risk drinking by consuming more than three alcoholic beverages per day, or more than seven per week.
It’s high risk because around 200 diseases are linked to the consumption of alcohol in those amounts or higher. Researchers for the Journal of the American Medical Association discovered that, not only are more adults drinking alcohol overall, but high risk drinking by women rose by almost 58 percent between 2002 and 2013.
The gender gap is closing between men and women when it comes to alcohol.
Culture has shifted, and we can only theorize as to why this is happening. Women’s roles, stress, conflicts between work and home, isolation, and a lack of healthy support as they transition to motherhood may be contributing factors. They’re also reporting less satisfaction with life now, more than ever before.
Women from previous generations often bonded together in faith, to raise children, and to connect with other families in their communities for the greater good. But this atmosphere of togetherness has decreased with the advances in technology and the new responsibilities that women have adopted in the modern day.
This brings us to point number two.
2. From the biblical females of the past up until the present day, women have always been party planners, but ours is a different kind of drinking.
“Likewise, teach older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.” (Titus 2:3)
In the time of Jesus, festivals and celebrations required a huge amount of preparation depending on how lavish and important the occasion. Women worked together to make sure that each event was successful and masterfully conducted. After all, the reputations of their households were on the line.
Gatherings were indicators of social status, just as they sometimes are today. From the very first person to receive a glass of wine, to the chair that each guest occupied at the table, every detail was important, and reflected upon the wealth and hospitality of the host family.
Women throughout the course of history also spent a lot of time working together because the demands of their rigorous jobs required them to. Today, dishwashers, factories, vacuum cleaners, farmers, grocery store chains, and washers and dryers do chores that women once completed together.
But no longer.
Modern women rarely rally together to prepare and store food for their households, clean, do laundry, or harvest crops as they once did. Nor do many have time to, since many families have two working adults contributing financially.
Along with working in the community, women are also taking on the majority of responsibilities related to home and childcare. Chores are carried out in solitude after a full day of work. In fact, party planning is one of the few shared responsibilities that women have continued through the present day.
There’s just one big difference between then and now. Today, it’s not uncommon for the entire purpose of a party to revolve around one thing: social drinking.
3. Alcohol is available at public events, now more than ever before.
“...And the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)
It’s everywhere, and the pressure to partake is both obvious, and as subtle as a gentle breeze. Gone are the days of having to seek out a bar to find a stiff drink. Consider this:
- Most movie theaters now serve wine and beer.
- Parents routinely offer adult beverages at kids’ birthday parties.
- Alcohol is sold at some youth sports events.
- A beer-themed 5K is commonplace.
- Booze cruise--the title speaks for itself.
- And the zany sights--like bike-peddled bars with a bartender in the center taking orders… what in the world?
Alcohol seems to be available everywhere we turn--regardless of life stage or title.
In the past, motherhood meant keeping a home and raising kids away from the influence of the adult world. But in the modern day, alcohol is paired with all things mama, including yoga, running, lifting weights, playdates, weekend gatherings, dinnertime, painting, crafting, watching movies, playing games, or while poolside with the kids.
Honestly, it’s harder to list places where alcohol is actually frowned upon. Outside of most churches, government buildings, or while breastfeeding or operating moving vehicles, it would seem that sipping in public is fair game.
In regard to its current use, the way we talk about drinking, and the normalization of using alcohol for the purpose of taking the edge off of parenting, “moms who drink” are a new kind of parent.
Women are drinking more alcohol than ever before. It’s available at every turn, and moms gather for the simple sake of drinking together. Without our vigilance, the cost to women’s health, their marriages, and families could be costly. The fine line between enjoying a bubbly beverage and neglecting family life, a sense of responsibility, and the presence of mind is a delicate one.
As the church, we have an incredible opportunity to support mothers in this difficult stage of life, rather than simply judge and cast aside. There must be correction, certainly, but even better than a Sunday morning Bible thumping or a well-aimed Scripture, is adopting a better understanding of moms from this generation. For guidance and inclusion. For help. Let us be that help, church.
Meg Gemelli is a Marriage and Family Therapist. Earns Crossfit participation trophies. Disaster cook. Thankful wife to Pete. Boy mom. Faith over fear all day long. For more on relationships, join Meg at www.theMakingofaMarriage.com.
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