Motherhood and Alcohol: When is it Il Fino on the Vino?

women20wineThere is a growing body of research that shows that women who are stay at home moms are drinking more alcohol than their working mom counterparts who juggle multiple roles.  So I found myself asking, “why is that so?” Why isn’t the stress of being so overly committed to both home and career sending women to the bottle more than the woman who is doing one job?

So here is what I came up with along with some suggestions for deciding when it is time to put the fino on the vino.  Women who are mothers today represent the largest educated population of women in history. Since the 60’s, we have been given a choice about when and if we even want to have children. Most women have a career and some kind of life after leaving their parents home now for at least a few years. They know what freedom over their lives and bodies are, even if they have a job. In today’s world, when you have children you are signing up to be a chauffeur, a tutor, a teacher ‘s aid in the classroom, a school volunteer, and be responsible for your child’s play dates and social activities.

When I was a child, we lived around the corner from the school so my mother didn’t drive us to school.  I never asked my parents to do my homework with me, and all activities I was involved with usually involved a school bus or was in our neighborhood. My mother did not organize my social life. I had a social life if I could get a ride.  It is a tough job being a stay at home mom. The demands of raising children today are huge but what makes it more difficult than balancing career and home can be found in one word: identity. You lose your sense of self when you don’t have an identity outside of motherhood.  We are after all animals, mammals, but none – the – less, animals. We need reinforcement. When you perform well at work, you either get acknowledgment, a promotion, a raise, or all of the above.  When you’re a stay at home mom, you’re lucky if you get an occasional acknowledgement from your kids.

So how do you know when your “mommy medicine” is a problem?

1) For the most part, quantity is not the main issue. Dependence is. If you have three glasses of wine over the course of a long Sunday family dinner like they do in Italy, it may be fine if your state of mind is celebratory. If you have three glasses of wine every night before and at dinner, you might want to ask yourself,  “are you tired of being the one who makes dinner every night and/ or has to listen to everyone’s complaints about their day?”

2) Do you really, really look forward to that glass of wine at night and if you had to go without it for a week, would it bring up some intense emotions?

3)  Is your wine drinking at night, the only time through the course of the day, that you feel happy?

4) Are you using it to numb out other yearnings, like to go back to school or go back into the workplace?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, perhaps it is time to include more time for yourself to contemplate what gives your life meaning outside of being a mom and what brings you joy. On my website, under the media page at the very bottom is an exercise I did for You Tube called “Connecting the Dots” that can help you discover what gives you energy and passion and perhaps even can lead to finding your other life purpose.

If your alcohol consumption is getting out of hand, perhaps it is time to consult a therapist or attend an AA meeting.  People are out there to help.

Dr. Toni Galardi is a licensed psychotherapist and the author of her new book, The LifeQuake Phenomenon: How to Thrive (not just survive) in Times of Personal and Global Upheaval.  On her website, she outlines on the “seven stages” page how addiction can be part of the awakening process of a LifeQuake.