This week, a few photos of a group of four Florida moms have been going viral. In the pics, they’re all in bathrobes, happily slugging back “wine” (which they’ve since claimed was juice) alongside a snarky sign reading “bye, Felicia.” The photo series was posted as a gimmicky celebration of the fact that these moms’ kids — all 18 of them combined — were finally headed back to school.
Ok, first of all: 2005 called, and it wants its cliché wine-mom jokes back. Sorry, suburban moms, you’re not funny. In fact, your staged picture of a drunken mid-morning kickoff to your kids’ school year is pretty alienating to sober moms as well as, you know, every single mom with a job outside the home who doesn’t have the luxury to even see her kids off to school to begin with.
I absolutely understand the stress of being a stay-at-home-mom — especially during the summer. I mean, I have three kids hanging off of me as I type this. School doesn’t start here for another two agonizingly long weeks, and I am beyond done with the cries of “Mommy, I’m bored.” But when my kids do head back to school, you’ll find me heaving a sigh of relief before hunkering down and getting back to work — not posting images of myself getting sloshed in my driveway. That’s overdone. It’s also irresponsible.
Alcohol abuse disorder among women is on the rise. Between 2002 and 2013, there was a startlingly sharp increase of 83.7% in women being diagnosed with alcohol use disorder. Women are drinking more, period — and it doesn’t take a genius to see why. When we scroll through social media and see thousands of memes and hashtags that all point to moms drinking for relief of their incredibly hard duties in motherhood, it starts to feel like, sure, having a bottle of wine — or tequila — with your friends in your driveway at 7:30 in the morning is not only funny but totally OK.
I should know: I was one of those moms not too long ago. The wine memes all rang true for me because, shocker, I was one of those robe-wearing moms gulping down the wine every afternoon in order to handle the chaos of my kids and running a house. And the worst part was that everywhere I looked in the media, my behavior was being celebrated — that is, I was celebrated until I said out loud that I had a problem and needed to quit drinking. Then, suddenly, I was viewed as weak. There is a stigma that envelops women who come clean about their problematic drinking. Talk about a ridiculous double standard.
For many moms, myself included, there is a cultural shift taking place right now. More and more moms — from us regular Janes to the likes of Anne Hathaway and Busy Phillips — are making the choice to trade wine for wellness. Dubbed by some “the sober-curious movement” those of us involved have begun looking at wine-happy images and feeling…over it. As The Washington Post writer so succinctly described it, “Sobriety has long been dogged by stigma — if you don’t drink, and you’re not visibly pregnant, you must have a problem — but aims to rebrand what it means to abstain from alcohol: It’s chic, it’s savvy, a health-driven lifestyle choice marketed with clever messaging and Instagram-worthy aesthetics.”
There needs to be a new dialog in the mom universe. One that, yes, is still about how stressful (and yet rewarding) motherhood really is — but one that doesn’t involve showing moms as succumbing to the need to get loaded in order to deal with their kids. In a time when the boozy wino-mom trope is finally becoming eye-roll-worthy in the public eye (thanks to more and more moms coming forward with stories of how that rose-all-day philosophy of parenting sent them to rehab), it seems irresponsible and even lazy to see viral photos like this week’s batch celebrated, touted as “news stories” for perpetuating the outdated drunk-mom joke.
When we start celebrating healthy behaviors like sobriety — and making jokes about motherhood that don’t revolve around booze — I’ll start laughing more at these kinds of staged photos. Until then, I’ll be celebrating my kids’ start to school and my own continued sobriety.