What started as a way for moms to socialize, have a little fun, and serve as a source of playful memes and social media material ten years ago is now developing into physical and mental health crisis. “Mommy Wine Culture,” originally conceived as a way for overworked and stressed-out moms to relax and enjoy each other’s company, has evolved into a crisis of sorts. Many wine mommies pay a tough price for taking a joke about moms drinking a little too far.
Origin of Mommy Wine Culture
Wine mommy culture was born on the internet, and although the phenomenon has died down somewhat, it still has a major presence online. Wine mommies sprang from mommy blogs and websites. Basically, wine mom culture was developed as a defense mechanism. It provided overtaxed “supermoms,” who somehow managed to work full time, take care of the kids, and maintain a household, with an outlet to blow off steam and relax with peers. A social club, of sorts, allowed moms to share their stories and be authentic with those who lived the same sort of lives and wanted to share their experiences—good or bad.
Predictably, the mommy wine culture took off. Thousands of well-followed mommy blogs were created, and many women with digital marketing skills were able to turn their experiences into cottage industries. Some became internet celebs. Others national spokeswomen for their “culture.” Books were written. Products were sold. What the mommy wine culture didn’t count on were the problems that many have encountered that started with something as simple as ending the night with a glass of chardonnay after putting the kids to bed. These unintended circumstances have produced a health crisis for women that no one saw coming.
Four Main Issues With Mommy Wine Culture
1. Normalizing alcoholism
Despite innocent intentions, many wine mommies have come out to reveal that their one glass of wine each evening developed into drinking a bottle or more per night. An alarming number of moms admitted that their drinking to relax actually caused more stress and anxiety, leading them to believe they needed more alcohol to deal with these newly created problems. Because of that, many wine mommies have come to the realization that they were on the cusp of having a problem drinking alcohol. And they were right for a number of reasons. First, binge drinking for women is a dangerous proposition. According to the National Institutes of Health, that equates to around four drinks over two hours, a common starting place within mommy wine culture. Second, this type of alcohol consumption leads to hangovers and illness that many admit makes their jobs, both as moms and professionals, much harder. Finally, being a “functional alcoholic” is also inherently dangerous in that it implies “real alcoholics” are dysfunctional failures, incapable of living good and productive lives. There is a thin line between function and dysfunction in mommy wine culture.
2. Potential long-term health issues
In mommy wine culture, self-medicating becomes a major problem that can lead to unexpected health issues down the road. This is especially true among women who already suffer from undiagnosed emotional and psychological issues. The World Health Organization reports that 10% of women suffer from depression, and another 8% from anxiety disorders. Alcohol exacerbates these conditions, and many women are unaware of this. Physiologically, women handle alcohol differently than men. Their bodies are smaller and contain less water, resulting in even small amounts of alcohol having toxic effects on the body. Because women produce smaller quantities of the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH), which breaks down alcohol in the body, women get drunk faster, process the alcohol out at a slower rate and become dependent on it more easily than men. Recent studies done by the CDC have also shown that the cirrhosis death rate among women 46-54 shot up by 57% from 2000-2015. The number of women visiting emergency rooms due to alcohol consumption is also on the rise. Overall, alcoholic moms are more likely to develop heart disease, brain damage and liver damage than alcoholic men. There are a lot of dangers lurking in that bottle of red or white for today’s wine mommies, but there is help available.
3. Family dysfunction
Problems associated with an alcoholic mom or dad aren’t just limited to the individual. The mommy wine culture can impose a major threat to the family as a whole. Addictive behaviors and mental illnesses run in families because of genetic factors and learned behaviors. If a wine mommy has an alcoholic parent, she more at risk of becoming an alcoholic. Studies show that women are less likely to seek treatment for alcoholism and other behavioral problems than men. Additionally, kids of alcoholic parents are more likely to be abused, suffer accidental injuries and follow in the footsteps of their parents. The problem with many wine mommies is that although they may seem to have it all together on the outside, they are conflicted and tormented on the inside. This is a huge issue, not only for the wine mom but for her kids, because they know when mommy is “sick,” or when something is bothering her. When it starts to go bad in mommy wine culture, the signs may be as simple as failing to prepare meals, not picking kids up from school and spending less quality time with them. Many have admitted that their dependence on alcohol changed their priorities and the ability to focus on what is truly important. It’s critical to remember that this type of dysfunctional behavior was NOT brought on by the actions of the children; it is solely the responsibility of the wine mommy. Without getting help or making changes, this family dysfunction only worse. To avoid it or stop it before it starts, wine mommies have to realize it and take the actions necessary to correct it.
4. Excuses for Mommy Wine Culture
Whether true or not, the prevailing reason that “supermoms” become wine mommies is considered ridiculous by some, and understandable by others as necessary to deal with the stresses of motherhood. For many, it starts as a tongue-in-cheek social experiment, influenced by mommy blogs, cute wine mommy memes, and a catalog of wine mommy swag, including wine glasses, apparel, hats, jewelry, and home décor items. Few anticipated that the glass of wine after giving the kids a bath, or weekly happy hour with the neighborhood moms, would become a growing problem. But, many have, including Harmony Hobbs. At one time a leading figure in the wine mommy culture, the mother of three from Louisiana always seemed to have it together. A successful insurance agent, Hobbs created “Modern Mommy Madness,” a successful blog influenced by the wine mommy culture. She did a podcast with her friend where they drank glasses of wine while reviewing new products. By anyone’s standards, she had a great life and seemingly enjoyed it. But there was also a dark side. She drank to cope with the stresses of being a mother and a wife.
It started innocently enough, just a glass of wine or two a night. She became a stay-at-home mom. The stresses of being a mom 24/7 became overwhelming at times, causing the pours to be bigger and come more often. It got to the point that from the moment she woke up, she was looking forward to her nightly happy hour, which had grown from two glasses to more than a bottle a night. Still, she shook off any signs that turning to alcohol was becoming a problem. She became distracted and distant. To fight that, she would become angry, often taking her unresolved emotions out on her husband and children. Realizing she was becoming depressed and miserable, she knew a change had to be made if she wanted to keep her family. Although she was still “high functioning,” she stopped making excuses and realized that she was indeed an alcoholic. She quit cold turkey and has never looked back. Although there are many success stories, there is an equal number of those immersed in mommy wine culture who do not become sober. The one characteristic that all these women share is that a wine mom drinks wine to relieve the stress of raising kids and a family. It’s a convenient excuse, but one many have to conquer in order to maintain their personal and family health.
If mommy wine culture has affected your life or you believe you may be a wine mom with a problem, please reach out to us. We can help you to start the road to sobriety. Contact us today at 855-448-3588.