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When 'Mommy Needs a Drink' Isn’t Funny Anymore

As the daughter of an alcoholic mother, I know all the jokes about mommy mixologists can conceal something serious.



There was no social media when my mother began her descent to the bottom of the bottle. No Martini Mommy tweeting that “Two glasses of red wine turns my children from Devil-Eyed-Beasts to Tolerable-Additions-To-My-Life.” No  Mommy Mixologiststressing that “sometimes Mommy REALLY needs a drink.”

Even the books – “Sippy Cups Are Not for Chardonnay,” “The Three-Martini Playdate” and the just-released “Reasons Mommy Drinks” – arrived on bookshelves long after my own mother’s reasons to drink had grown up.

I wonder if, had my mother been born later, she might have adopted the Twitter handle @mommyhidesboozeinthewashingmachine. Might she have tweeted that “Vodka in my coffee dulls the sound of daughter’s begging me to stop drinking”? The thing is, I’ve seen the “mommy needs a drink” culture up close. It’s not that funny.

“Comedic gold,” is how Lyranda Martin-Evans  described to a newspaper reporter the “daily struggle” that time-starved, sleep-deprived new moms face. Her book, “Reasons Mommy Drinks,” which she wrote with blog partner Fiona Stevenson, offers up advice paired with mocktail or cocktail recipes. The Day Care Defense, for example, is a fruity rum drink that promises to “numb your guilt, kill germs and boost your immune system.” The first 18 months of motherhood were “really hard,” Martin-Evans says, but “tragedy plus time equals comedy.” Apparently tragedy plus vodka does too.

I’ve tried to laugh along. One of my favorite New Yorker cartoons features a woman with a glass of wine in one hand, her toddler on her hip. “This?” she says. “It’s a magical potion that makes everything you say interesting.”

Funny, right? It speaks to those mind-numbingly boring days when you’ve read “Puppy’s Birthday Surprise” 87 times and your kid won’t nap and you’re on deadline and you still can’t zip your skinny jeans even though your “baby” is almost three. Sometimes a glass of wine would take the edge off.

There was certainly opportunity when my kids were young. Alcohol was routinely offered at playgroups and toddlers’ birthday parties. Juice for the kids, “Mommy Juice” for the rest of us. But I had promised myself that I would never, ever be like my own mother. Otherwise, I might have been tempted to pour daily, perhaps tweeting “just made fish sticks for the kids so white wine, right?”

That’s not to say I’m a saint. There are plenty of times I’ve been a whole lot like my mom. The time I got so loaded at my husband’s company party that I awoke, makeup smeared on my pillow, pantyhose in shreds on the floor, with absolutely no recollection of the evening beyond the first course, which, not surprisingly, I hadn’t eaten.

Or the morning my toddler found me on all fours facing into the toilet as I vomited up the previous night’s brilliant idea to open up one more bottle of wine. “Mommy sick?” she asked. I felt bathed in shame.

Or the time I came home after a couple too many and visited each sleeping child to kiss them goodnight.

“You were funny last night,” said my eldest the next morning. “Why did you keep saying you loved me?”

Funny? I wanted to cry.

With an alcoholic parent, my risk of addiction goes up fourfold. I know this, which is why I’ve always had rules. No drinking alone. No drinking before I go out. No drinking hard liquor (except tequila. Don’t ask.). No drinking during the day.

Especially that last one. My mother began before breakfast with vodka in her coffee.

How, I wonder, do these other mothers do it?

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