It’s (Kind of) Funny

Parents (USA) - - Mom-health -

wine drinker. A cheer­ful one, tipsy more of­ten than sloshed. But from an early age, I no­ticed the change when she drank. By day, she was or­ga­nized, com­posed, maybe a lit­tle too tightly wound. Into her fourth glass of Bur­gundy, she came loose.

In our sur­vey, 77 per­cent of moms said their drink­ing doesn’t af­fect the way they are as par­ents. Could that be true? Is par­ent­ing with a buzz re­ally no big deal? Or are we kid­ding our­selves? April Storey is a mother of two from Red­ding, Cal­i­for­nia, with pas­sions for fit­ness and wine. Two years ago, she be­came a vi­ral sen­sa­tion when she posted a “wine work­out” on Face­book. In the video, she per­forms push-ups with a glass un­der­neath her. With each rep, she low­ers her­self to sip through a straw—a flour­ish, she tells me, that’s pure com­edy: “I don’t ac­tu­ally drink when I work out.”

But Storey’s post struck a chord, gar­ner­ing more than 22 mil­lion views and a flood of com­ments. She knew other moms en­joyed wine as much as she did, but she hadn’t re­al­ized just how many.

In 2015, women drank 57 per­cent of all wine con­sumed in the U.S., ac­cord­ing to Nielsen. Among the health con­scious, vino en­joys celebrity sta­tus as the uni­corn drink that can sup­pos­edly slim your waist and strengthen your im­mune sys­tem. (Sober­ing fact: A re­port from the Amer­i­can So­ci­ety of Clin­i­cal On­col­ogy sug­gests that one drink a day—wine or other­wise—can raise a wo­man’s risk for de­vel­op­ing breast can­cer by 4 per­cent.)

Wine is also a panacea for the tri­als of mod­ern moth­er­hood, if you buy into the mes­sages in movies like Bad Moms, the memes and GIFS on Face­book, and the cutesy slo­gans printed on T-shirts sold on Etsy (“I wine be­cause they whine,” ha-ha). “It’s be­come this wink-wink joke of ‘Par­ent­ing is so hard, I need my wine,’ ” says Gabrielle Glaser, au­thor of Her Best-kept Se­cret, a book about Amer­i­can women’s re­la­tion­ships with al­co­hol. But there’s a prob­lem with the punch line: It gives women who have bona fide drink­ing is­sues fod­der to jus­tify their be­hav­ior.

Ste­fanie Wilder-tay­lor knows this first­hand be­cause she used to be do­ing the wise­crack­ing. The au­thor of Sippy Cups Are Not for Chardon­nay, she quit drink­ing in 2009 af­ter ac­cept­ing that her nightly swill­ing had got­ten out of hand. Wilder-tay­lor went on to found an on­line com­mu­nity, the Booze-free Bri­gade. “Many moms who joke don’t have a drink­ing prob­lem. They just think it’s funny,” she says. “But the women who do have a prob­lem get fooled into think­ing, ‘Ev­ery mom drinks like I do.’ ”

Ex­perts say there’s a darker story to be told about how the drink­ing cul­ture af­fects our health. Al­co­hol-use disor­ders, drunk-driv­ing ar­rests, and al­co­hol­re­lated deaths among Amer­i­can women are ris­ing, says Deb­o­rah Hasin, PH.D., pro­fes­sor of epi­demi­ol­ogy at Columbia Uni­ver­sity’s Mail­man School of Pub­lic Health. If cur­rent trends con­tinue, mil­len­nial women will be­come as likely to binge drink as mil­len­nial men.

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