OK. I know I'll get labeled a buzzkill, or over-the-top, or some other such thing for this, but after scrolling past the 4,523rd wine meme this week, seeing this ad for Yoga + Beer! (which is not unlike a dozen others I've seen lately, just slightly more ridiculous), and receiving the umpteenth email from a mom who is privately dying because alcohol is messing up her life, and then receiving this gem from a friend on the same day:
I just can't.
I can't shut up any longer. I have to call us out — all of us.
Are we really this naive? This boring? I don't think we are.
Do we not see something humiliating, if not deeply wrong, with a tagline that reads: BABY ON THE HIPS, WINE ON THE LIPS?
I mean. I was in advertising, but... does that not embarrass you a little bit?
Mommy's time out? WTF?
This is the deal. I saw alcohol as an exciting, fun, basically innocent part of life for a long time. It was a right and a privilege of being an adult. Sure, you could get sick if you had too much, but wasn't that kind of the point sometimes (wink, wink)? Hangovers were a badge of honour. Drinking was a passage into adulthood. It's what you did in college. What you earned when you started working. And what you obviously needed to get through parenting. Especially as a mom. Why else would they make "Mommy's Time Out" wine? Finally, we're all in on how craz-ay this 21st-century parenting thing is — so let's just let er' rip!
Real Simple just announced the BEST. NEWS. EVER: Amazon Prime will now deliver wine to your door in one hour! Really, lifestyle magazine with 3.7 million Facebook followers? Is it really the...
BEST... NEWS... EVER?
I don't think it is.
It's not alcoholics and 'Everyone Else'
Yeah, I know, I know. Lighten up, Laura. It's not that big of a deal. And besides, not everyone is an (ahem) al-co-hol-ic.
But can we talk about that for a minute?
Basically, the wide-held belief is that there are people who can handle drinking and people who can't. There are alcoholics and Everyone Else. But you know what's in my inbox? People in pain. Some who may answer "yes" to most of the questions on the 26 question checklist, but more likely, people who would land on the side of more "no's." Maybe they drink a little. Maybe they drink a lot. But all of them are hurting. Partially because of how drinking is chipping away at their lives, but more because they think they should be able to do it "normally." Every single one, like me, bought into the idea that that being boozy is normal. Preferred. The way it should be.
And I can't imagine why, guys. Because BABY ON THE HIPS, WINE ON THE LIPS, HUZZAH! It's wine o-clock, y'all!
Can we wake the hell up, please?
Can we at least question what we're doing and promoting and putting on ads and down our throats — not only because our kids can see it — but also because we can?
Can we pause for one second before we crack open the Rosé and think,Where am I going with this? Closer to life or further away? Why? Is this what it means to be alive? Is there some kind of connection to this — the wine, the food, the sex, the 500th Netflix show, whatever — and the disconnection we're seeing in the world? Maybe?
We're not supposed to be perfect — God knows I'm not (and I don't even know what that means, anyway) — but we can do so much fucking better than this.
We're all addicted to something, we just happen to be particularly deluded about alcohol.
The "baby on the hips and the wine on the lips" thing? That sh*t almost killed me. So yeah, I'm not going to shut up. Not because I want everyone to quit, but because I want us to see it for what it is. I want us to see how short we're selling ourselves by checking out, and how wrong we are if we think this is a "them" problem, not an "us" one (thank you, Holly, for that piece and for starting to talk about all this stuff years ago. You're our O.G.).
Buying into a culture of misinformation
A couple years ago, I was talking with a mom friend of mine. I said, "I don't know how people have multiple kids — I would lose my mind!" She said, "Oh, I know. I would have to become an alcoholic!" She meant well. I love this friend — she just honestly believes that's how it goes. She's bought into the mass culture of misinformation about what drinking is (and what it isn't) like I did: that addiction is something we choose if we decide to lose control, and that the problematic drinking belongs only to those with the "A" label.
I thought all that, too. Most of us do. But then I hit a wall. For a long time I thought it was me — that I was unique, or broken, or different somehow — but I'm not. We're all addicted to something, we just happen to be particularly deluded about alcohol. The disconnect between what it is in reality for many people and what we pretend or want it to be is mind-blowing.
Maybe, just maybe, we've all been duped. Maybe our beloved booze is as good times and benign as we thought smoking was back when it was promoted by doctors and splayed all over ads with taglines like "Be happy, go Lucky!" and "Blow it in her face and she'll follow you anywhere!" (Seriously, Google it).
Blindly putting bottoms up
To all my friends and family and whoever else who drinks: I love you and I promise I'm not sitting here judging you for drinking. I do, however, care that so many of us collectively seem to be doing it blindly.
I care about calling bullsh*t to the billions of dollars behind industries that try and make this sh*t look good.
I care about the woman who wrote me last night wondering why she can't stop, even after some pretty heavy consequences. And the mom who wrote me the day before wondering where it all went wrong, because she used to be able to do happy hours just fine, but then something flipped when she had her first kid and "it just became different."
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I care about them.
I care about my daughter.
I care that so many of us are dying of loneliness and yet we can't seem to find a way to connect.
I care that we think the anxiety medication is going to help us when we're washing it down with three glasses of wine.
I care that so many of us really, truly believe we're not losing some essential part of our joy when we drown out our pain.
Because there is something going on, but that's not it.
A version of this blog originally appeared on LauraMcKowen.com.
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