Alcohol & Motherhood
In this episode of the “Alcohol Minimalist” podcast, host Molly Watts reflects on the narrative surrounding mommy wine culture and its impact on mothers’ relationships with alcohol. Molly discusses the societal pressures faced by mothers and the tendency to turn to alcohol as a coping mechanism, emphasizing the dangerous messaging sent to children about parenting and alcohol use. She sheds light on her own experiences with her mother’s alcohol consumption, highlighting the power of letting go of painful past stories and finding strength in the present. Molly introduces Sunnyside, a behavior change tool that helps users reduce alcohol consumption and invites listeners to explore its benefits. She encourages self-reflection, self-compassion, and the belief in one’s own strength, emphasizing that transformation is possible and that individuals have the power to change their relationship with alcohol and create lasting peace.
Hey, it’s Molly from alcohol minimalist. What do you do in this October? I would love to have you join me in my more sober October challenge. What do I mean by more sober October, it simply means that we’re going to add in more alcohol free days than you currently been doing, whether that’s one or two or 31. It’s up to you, you get to set your own goal and that’s why it’s more sober October. You can check it out and learn more at get got sunnyside.co/molly It’s totally free. I’ve got prizes, I’m going to be going live every week to announce the prize winners, and it’s just going to be an awesome event. So I would love to have you join me. You can learn more at get.sunnyside.co/molly and you can get registered today. Welcome to the alcohol minimalist podcast. I’m your host Molly watts. If you want to change your drinking habits and create a peaceful relationship with alcohol, you’re in the right place. This podcast explores the strategies I use to overcome a lifetime of family alcohol abuse, more than 30 years of anxiety and worry about my own drinking and what felt like an unbreakable daily drinking habit. Becoming an alcohol minimalist means removing excess alcohol from your life. So it doesn’t remove you from life. It means being able to take alcohol or leave it without feeling deprived. It means to live peacefully, being able to enjoy a glass of wine without feeling guilty and without needing to finish the bottle. With Science on our side will shatter your past patterns and eliminate your excuses. Changing your relationship with alcohol is possible. I’m here to help you do it. Let’s start now. Well hello and welcome or welcome back to the alcohol minimalist podcast with me your host Molly Watts coming to you from well, it’s a sweltering Oregon right now. It has been hot, hot, hot. We are well I’m loving it. And most Oregonians are beginning to start grumbling and wanting the rain and all that. I will say that it’s May and like a we’ve already you know, we blew out records over the weekend we were in the 90s hottest days since the 1970s. And plants here are not really used to long hot streaks this early in the season. So we’re already seeing at least where I work some some of the flowering trees and stuff they’re looking pretty dismal. And so that’s not good. We don’t want that but, and I’m appreciating some really nice warm weather here in the Pacific Northwest. It’s been a minute since I’ve done an episode for the alcohol and series. In case you’re not familiar with it. This is a series that I started back near the beginning of the podcast. Episode number 14 was the first in the series. And to date there are 19 episodes in the alcohol and series. This is number 20. If you listen on Spotify or YouTube, these episodes are pulled together at least on YouTube. They’re up to date, Spotify, I’m having a challenge trying to add might have to create a second playlist or redo it all together. I don’t know. Anyways, I’ve recently updated all the titles with the ampersand sign the and signed. So if you at least I don’t think you can search for it at least backwards in Apple podcasts not on your phone. But you can scroll backwards through the episodes. And when you see that and sign it will be a hue that that is one of the alcohol and series. This series has a combination of solo episodes and also some great guest episodes. And it focuses on some of the bigger subject areas that alcohol impacts. The first episode was alcohol and anxiety. And still today, this is probably one of the biggest areas where I believe educating people is so important. So the alcohol and series is a great way to quickly go back and touch on some of these bigger conversations if you want to check them out. Today I’m adding a topic that is definitely worthy of a bigger conversation. We’ll be talking about alcohol and motherhood. As we celebrated Mother’s Day last weekend, it dawned on me that there’s a lot for me to share around this topic, both from a personal perspective, as well as the narrative surrounding mommy wine culture. And I think we’ll start there. The messages we received from society about alcohol and motherhood. Now stay with me gentleman, this episode may help you understand your partner’s or your own mother’s relationship with alcohol, or even shed some light on what you’re feeling with regards to drinking. And it’s already got me thinking about an episode for next month about alcohol and manhood, not just fatherhood, which will be part of it, but the whole drinking bros kind of mentality. So coming next month, stay tuned. You’ve heard the phrase, I’m sure mommy wine culture. And what does that really mean? There’s no official medical or cultural definition of wine mob culture. But you probably recognize it when you see it. The turn why Mom is generally used to refer to a mom who drinks wine as a way to cope with parenting. She may make fun of or make, you know, make light of her reliance on wine. But she also uses it as a way to bond with other moms. And there’s no doubt that the role of the internet in the growth of the wine mom movement can’t be understated. Enabling the Internet has enabled a proliferation of memes like, you know, you’ve seen the most expensive part of having kids is all the wine you have to drink, right? We see things like this all the time, behind the cheeky wine glasses and this internet enthusiasm. Mommy wine culture may stem from a desire to validate the struggles of moms and to build community. sharing the message that Mommy needs wine is perhaps really just an attempt to say that being a mom is really hard in a more socially acceptable way. You know, also, though, perpetuates the idea that alcohol is a solution for overwhelmed, isolated caregivers, which can really be harmful for parents and for their whole family. Right. It’s things like moms who need wine Facebook group, and or a wine glass that simply says mommy sippy cup, a baby’s onesie that says mommy loves me more than wine. Throw a pillow that says mom needs some wine or a t shirt that says surviving homeschool, one break down and one glass of wine at a time. All of these seem to be kind of tailor made right for moms and also probably even more so in the last couple of years during the pandemic, when many stressed out moms experienced. You know, things like daycares and schools being closed. Obviously, I think the mommy wine cultures got got steamed up a bit during that timeframe. All of these products seem to be screaming that wine is really the way to cope with motherhood. And here’s something I want you to know. Although similar products exist for dads. A simple search on Etsy shows that there are over 67,000 Wind mom products, while less than 25,000 exists for dads now I don’t know if that’s because more women shop on Etsy or what but you see the points it’s not exclusive to female caregivers. It seems to be targeted. The wine mom culture seems to be targeted towards moms, specifically as a means of coping with child rearing housecleaning and upkeep and their own work. Obviously, taking care of children can be stressful, tiring and anxiety inducing. And mommy wine culture kind of offers a chance to escape responsibility, relax, socialize and have me time away from those demands. It offers a funny and quote unquote normal perception of drinking rather than a shameful, unhealthy or problematic one. Rather than looking at their alcohol use as dangerous wine moms may see it as an acceptable way of dealing with parenthood. Now unfortunately, as you likely know as you because you’re here listening to this podcast, relying on alcohol or another drug to dole your stress can easily become problematic. Did you know that the term mommies little helpers is a common nickname for Valium? I did not know that. But it is and it was actually used in a song by The Rolling Stones back in 1966. Referring to them and Valium in case you don’t know is a class of psychoactive drugs that is often prescribed to treat anxiety, insomnia and seizures. And it can also be abused to create a quote unquote high. So interesting, Mommy’s Little helpers, right the messaging back in the even from the 1960s. So why has mom culture still grown in these past few years? Well, COVID certainly has had an impact. A 2020 study by Rand showed that women have increased their heavy drinking days by 41% Compared to before the pandemic. In addition, numerous studies and reports note that since the pandemic, women have been doing the majority of household chores, they’re being pushed out of the workforce at shockingly high numbers. And they are taking on the bulk of remote school duties in areas without in person learning. It’s no wonder that right now, Wine Mom culture, or at least in the last couple of years, became increasingly prevalent. Some experts like Sally Chung, who is a clinical psychologist in Bellevue, Washington, believe that the wine mom trend grew because it pushes back against the idea of the perfect mother who has it all together. You don’t have to be the mom who has her stuff all figured out. You just have to be the one who has the ability to keep going and running, you know, quote, unquote run on coffee, wine and Amazon Prime. The whole the memes and jokes resonate with many mothers who are trying to live up to impossible standards, right? Humor connects people and the stress and judgment that women feel is a another stressor that they want to escape from. drinking or using drugs is one of the most common and accessible outlets for stress relief. Humans have always sought ways to alter our consciousness and get numb after a hard day. And the jokes around mom wine culture, normalize this basic human instinct. While these messages might increase consumption in the population, it also simultaneously chips away at the idea that moms must be perfect. And that is something that’s worth understanding. It’s a dual solution, right? Not only is it in people’s minds, reducing stress and anxiety, but as a mom, we’re chipping away at this idea that we have to be perfect, which is driving the desire to keep doing it right. Moms use the memes the T shirts and the kitschy coffee mugs claiming it’s five o’clock somewhere as justification for their own drinking. Even after someone begins to question if their drinking is excessive, or feels like they want to change their drinking, the message around mom wine culture can actually help keep them stuck in the pattern of drinking to deal with the pressures of motherhood and wine mom culture tells women that that’s okay. Wine Mom culture says that the best and the only way to be a mom is with a glass of wine in your hand. Parenting is unbearable and brutal without the mommy juice to ease your two E’s, the tantrums, the messes, the lack of sleep, the lack of sleep and the overwhelm of it all. As an alcohol minimalist and someone who’s working to change your drinking habits, you are likely able to see the dangers of the mom wine culture, especially for women who are drinking well beyond low risk limits. What I think is an adult society we tend to overlook is the dangerous messaging we’re sending our children. Mommy wine culture tells a story about parenthood and children are often quick to pick up on those stories. This story tells that while parenting is precious, it’s also unbearably awful. And that because children are so fill in the blank here. Active clingy demanding annoying, exhausting, boring. Parents are desperate to escape. The more time a parent spends with their child, the more they need alcohol to cope with at all. This story is probably not the story you want to pass on to your children. That being a parent that being with them is just the worst that they are the reason you drink the belief that alcohol is the only option when you can’t physically run away. These are ideas that become a part of their core beliefs as they grow and become adults. You all know I’m a science girl and that is why I am so proud of my partnership with Sunnyside. Sunnyside has great data based on their user experience and they also have great science techniques behind what drives the program in the field. To place users of Sunnyside in their first 30 days experience on average a 29% reduction in drinks. They avoid 1500 calories and they’ve saved over $50 each month. This is because there is science behind the program. Sunnyside helps you reach your goals and stick with them long term by focusing on three scientifically proven superpowers. One is pre commitment. You intentionally make a plan ahead of time and we talked about making a plan all the time here on the podcast. Number two is conscious interference. And you’ll learn that the habit of tracking each drink helps you decide about it. Number three is positivity. We know this is not easy sometimes right? And we all need a little boost. I tried to be a boost and Sunnyside is a great boost via text message or email to keep you motivated. So if you haven’t already checked it out, I invite you www.sunnyside.co/molly To get started on a free 15 day trial today. And I think that’s a great segue for me to discuss some of my personal perspective on alcohol and motherhood. I asked in my private Facebook group this past weekend, what did you learn from your parents about alcohol? And here’s part of what I shared. My mom as most of you know, struggled with alcohol use alcohol use disorder for most of my life. But it was an unspoken undiscussed topic, for a lot of it. Mom’s little secret, which wasn’t a secret at all, especially as she aged and drank more. hiding my mother’s drinking led me to want to hide my own misuse. I didn’t see it as just a habit that I could change but a problem a character flaw, and shameful. When I say that I hid my own misuse, I want to be clear, I wasn’t hiding bottles or drinking beers in the garage or binging in the closet kind of hiding. I simply hid the anxiety I felt which was ever present. And the total quantity, which was excessive, with a veneer of what appeared to be a successful life. I worked I had a family, I had friends and from the outside, no one really questioned my alcohol use, I didn’t look very different from the rest of my friends. Except possibly, I will say that my dad questioned it because he simply didn’t like to see me drink at all. And he did worry about the consistency of my daily beer drinking. I assured him all the time, I was nothing like my mom, because I didn’t drink to the point of being intoxicated or altered. And side note here at that point, of course, I knew nothing about it. I didn’t pay attention to blood alcohol content. And I certainly didn’t know about the impact of alcohol on my neurotransmitters. So this idea that I wasn’t drinking to be intoxicated or altered while true in my brain wasn’t actually true in my neuro chemistry, right. I simply gauged not drinking to the point of being altered. As what if I started to notice myself if I started to slur my words or feel altered? That was something I wanted to avoid it stopped drinking because I never wanted to appear drunk. That’s also something I learned from my mom’s drinking, by the way. I really hated it when I could tell she had been drinking. And it wasn’t hard, especially as I got older, even though I’d call her in the morning trying to avoid later in the day when she definitely be inebriated. I could tell in an instant when she had been drinking, and it was so disappointing. That’s what’s what’s funny, right? It was disappointing, even though I knew it was going to happen. Every time I’d hope there was hope that she was going to be sober when I called. And, you know, to this day, I still don’t enjoy talking to people who’ve had too much to drink. And so that was one of these delineating things for me, I thought I if I wasn’t like her, if I kept it in this box, then I didn’t have a problem that didn’t need to be addressed. It didn’t need to be changed. Right. Now I have a lot of old war stories about alcohol and my mother, I have images and flashes of the past where I was really upset by her drinking. And when I started doing this work, one of the core principles that helped me so much was the simple idea that the past only exists today, and what I think about it, and quite honestly, I just don’t choose to hold on to the painful stories any longer. I can reflect on them now with love and compassion for a woman who simply didn’t believe enough in her own strength and power. To handle her emotions. I remember my mom once told me that it would take years of counseling for her to overcome her drinking. At that time, I dismissed it as the ranting of a drunk woman. I was in my 20s. And all I wanted was for her to stop drinking. So I was 100% focused on the action of her drinking. Now, I can wonder why I didn’t say when she said it would take years of counseling, why didn’t I say Great? Then let’s do years of counseling, if that’s what you need? Or why I didn’t wonder what that meant? Why did she believe she needed years of, of counseling? Those are questions that I still don’t have clear answers on. And of course, sadly, never will. But it’s important to understand that at the time, right that I was so focused on her, just not drinking any more. That’s all I cared about. And I didn’t want to do the backwards work, I didn’t understand that there was work to be done on her thoughts and her feelings. And if I had understood that better, you know, if we had understood that better, if we had been able to help her more understand that, that she had that power, why not spend years in counseling, if that was what it was going to take, right. I want to end this episode with a more upbeat message. And it goes back to that messaging that we were talking about earlier, as a child of an alcoholic mother, I can absolutely tell you that for many years, I believed that my mother drank because of me. I believed that I was the cause. Now, I know better now. But I want you to think about what feelings that kind of story created in me. When I think about that, and the idea that I hospitably passed on a part of that story to my own kids, like they were the reason that I needed to drink. Wow, that is not the message I wanted to send or wanted them to ever hear or believes. And that is, I think, really why I’m so proud of the work that I do here and the fact that I am rewriting my mother’s legacy. If you are a mom, if you are overdrinking, you can change that habit and be an example of what’s possible for your kids. I want my kids to know that life can be tough, but they are tougher. I want them to know that emotions can feel challenging, and they are capable of feeling and doing hard things. I want them to know that they can practice being better thinkers and managing their minds. And I absolutely want them to know that they don’t need alcohol to change how they are feeling. I want them to know that anyone is capable of rewriting their own stories and changing their lives and being an example of what is possible. All right, my friends, that is all I have for you this week. I hope that something I’ve said resonates with you. As always, you know take something take a piece and use it to fuel change in your lives. This is a path it’s a journey and it is a process but you’re capable start now. Start today start this week, every choice is a chance and you have the opportunity to create the life that you’ve always dreamed of. Until next time, choose peace my friends. Thank you for listening to the alcohol minimalist podcast. This podcast is dedicated to helping you change your drinking habits and to create a peaceful relationship with alcohol. Use something you learned in today’s episode and apply it to your life this week. Transformation is possible you have the power to change your relationship with alcohol now, for more information, please visit me at www dot Molly watts.com