when CAN i drink?

I wanted to weigh in quickly on the current discussion about moms drinking during playdates. Melissa at Suburban Bliss took some flack a while back for posting about cocktail playgroups, and it cultivated enough discussion that she was asked to be on the Today show to talk about it. Mrs. Kennedy at Fussy responds, saying that the woman against whom Melissa was pitted during the discussion was not a mom who understood the silent, lonely, struggle with desperation that some mothers consistently deal with.

Clearly, the segment was too short, but I was interested in the ways in which Melissa and the other woman in the interview (Janet) were clearly on not on the same page; Janet’s only response (and she repeated it, over and over), was that women need to find *healthier* ways to relax, to socialize, to have fun.

Duh. This woman does not DRINK AT ALL. Of course she disagrees with drinking around children; she disagrees with drinking fundamentally.

Because my question is this: if women are NOT allowed to drink around their kids, when ARE THEY ALLOWED TO DRINK?? I mean, when are the kids NOT around, or NOT a part of mom’s purview? Even if I do hire a babysitter so I can leave my house to drink, I’m still responsible when I get home for them when I get home–probably still with a little liquor left in me?

Where’s the discussion about dinner parties, where children and drinks are involved? Is it OK for me to have another family over for dinner, and for us to have drinks with dinner? Oh, no, probably not.

This is not a discussion about responsible drinking, or parenting. It’s a discussion about control. Of which we as humans, I assert, have an amount. I can have friends over, and we can choose not to imbibe (which we do sometimes). There are many other factors in my life that could prevent me from getting my kids to the emergency room: My car not starting, for one. Me tripping and breaking both legs as we rush out the door and I slip and fall on my perpetually-icy back porch.

OK, I’m mocking a bit. But I think the more important question must make us look AWAY from the well-off suburban moms drinking expensive wine and cocktails in the afternoon. Those women are not neglecting their children. Those women are not hurting anyone, or anything. The more important questions deal with children who are abused, or neglected, or otherwise mistreated. And such treatment of children isn’t ALWAYS the result of drug or alcohol abuse, anyway.

The Today Show is not finding these families and having Meredith interview them. God forbid morning television actually deal with a real problem.

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6 thoughts on “when CAN i drink?

  1. Thanks for this post. This is such a slippery slope–if we’re going to harrass moms for having a glass of wine in the afternoon, can we start calling out parents who smoke around their children? (after all, it seems like that behavior has much more potential to do harm to the kids). What about parents who meet for play dates at a fast food restaurant and feed their kids crappy food? Where are these parent police?

    This is a classic example of the mainstream media playing on Americans’ obsession with puritanism.

    By the way, what about the dads who have a beer with the Sunday afternoon football game? Are they behaving as badly as their wives?

    Grumble, grumble.

  2. Thanks, Maialu. I was just thinking that my “this is not the question” move was a bit weak; but you’ve shored it up substantially for me.

    And another question (and one I’ll deal with I’m sure in many essays to come): who are we to judge, really? Cast the first stone only if you can claim perfection. Or whatever Jesus said. Instead of stone-casting, let’s story-cast.

    We learn more, and are persuaded more, by the narrative than by the directive.

  3. my philosophy was always that when there were *little* kids around, the kind who could get into instant danger they couldn’t save themselves from or at least help save themselves/each other from, *somebody* at the party ought to stay sober. but it didn’t always have to be their mom–holy cow. moms are never not moms. they’re like kings & emperors. there’s no such thing as off-duty; that’s why humans invented delegation!

  4. As a child, I’ve been around adults — at friends’ houses — who were too drunk to take care of us should we need care. That was scary. However, an adult has to be pretty darn drunk to inspire that kind of fear in children, I think. I mean, the kind of thing I saw was a bit beyond a glass of wine in the afternoon.

    Should parents drink during play dates? Who cares? As long as the kids aren’t poking their own (or other people’s) eyes out with forks, or as long as we don’t have a whole contingent of toasted parents in giant vehicles menacing the roads, what’s the harm?

  5. As I sit here sipping my glass of wine, (Son is nicely tucked in bed), I of course have to chime in. It’s not crack, for f***s sake. I think it’s fine to have cocktail playdates, as long as someone, (there’s always one in every crowd) is willing to be in charge. Also, what would parents do without wine at the end of the day? It’s because of the kids that we need it!!
    I joke. But still. I agree that it’s some kind of puritan backlash.
    Next let’s gang up on parents who drive cars that are not fuel efficient. I mean, who’s screwing up their kids’ futures more? Especially where I live, I think it’s important to provide an example of people who can have a glass of wine with dinner and be fine. It’s normal!
    I’m done now. Thanks for the post!

  6. I don’t have children, so in some respects that disqualifies me from an opinion here, but I wanted to pick up on the whole puritanism thing. I take a lot of shit for the amount of wine I drink. But the standard by which my consumption is considered excessive is puritanical, and somewhat distinctly American. There are places in France, Italy, and other wine growing regions where wine is like water. Children grow up with wine as a normal part of everyday consumption. They seem not only no worse for the exposure, but less likely to over-emphasize and therefore abuse alcohol in general. I think there has been some much cultural emphasis against drinking at all, that it’s really difficult now to talk about responsible drinking and appropriate age and conditions, etc. I much rather see a show talk about how to do that, how to facilitate that kind of understanding for kids as part of normal life, than what you describe.

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