Oh, Demon Alcohol!

by Christie Mellor


Recently I was asked, first for Babble.com and then for Time magazine — if I had any thoughts on the “drinking mom” trend. Because apparently, in light of the tragic Diane Schuler drunken car crash, the era of the chardonnay-swilling mama is officially over. The nice lady from Time magazine asked if she was correct in “crediting” me with the trend. Of course, I told her. I love to be credited "with starting the phenomenon," except when it might imply that I'm somehow responsible for parents behaving irresponsibly and killing those in their charge.


I think the whole “saucy drinking mom” trend may have been--if not entirely fabricated-- then certainly ginned up by various media. After "The Three-Martini Playdate" was published there suddenly appeared a slew of parenting books with alcohol-soaked titles. And much was made of the idea of groups of harried moms convening in backyards across the country to guzzle margaritas while the kiddies played. I was constantly asked how often I had my own “three-martini playdates,” as if I hosted scheduled, organized gatherings of drinking mothers every afternoon. But if you actually read my book, you might gather that the title was more metaphorical than literal. Despite the many enthusiastic references to smoking and drinking, the book wasn’t meant to encourage mommies to down a fifth of vodka at their toddler's playdates. It was meant to get frazzled parents to take a look at their over-scheduled, child-centric lives and reclaim their time. Perhaps with a chilled cocktail in hand. Oops! There I go again.


Yes, I do think that mommies and daddies should get to socialize with their friends and each other, without the mandatory addition of noisy and attention-grabbing children. I do think that parents should encourage their kids to be self-sufficient, so their children will learn to entertain themselves, so that they, the parents, might get to actually enjoy some occasional grown up time. Socializing sometimes involves alcohol. No, it doesn’t always have to involve alcohol. But I still think it’s possible to enjoy drinks with friends without everyone necessarily getting blotto and accidentally killing their children.


As horrible and tragic as the Schuler story is, I don’t know if this is quite in the same category as a few parents unwinding with a glass of wine at the end of the day. It happened at 9:30 in the morning? She’d just been smoking pot and had the equivalent of ten drinks in her system before driving her mini-van for two miles into oncoming traffic? Forgive me if I don’t think this can be characterized as a Three-Martini Playdate scenario gone awry.


I have always drank and would only get out of hand every now and then. Now I have a one year old son, I had no problem not drinking while I was pregnant with him and up to several months after he was born. My husband works swing shift so a lot of times I feel like a single Mom with his work schedule. I stay at home with our very active and into everything son. lol Anyways I have always know that I have a drinking problem but when I would make the comment to people I cared about they would tell me oh you don't have a problem, so I would just shrug it off. Well lately I have been cleaning our house out of alcohol. I don't stop until every drop is gone! I have become out of control! Last night I got completely drunk before my husband left for his midnight shift he took the alcohol and hid it. When I realized he had hit it I went crazy, calling him (while he's at work) cussing him with words that I don't use and threating our child over his head! All these things are out of character for me. I woke up today feeling awful but knowing that today was the day I needed to get my life back together! I'm asking you all to pray for me as I know the days ahead will not be easy but my son and husband are worth me getting myself back!


I am a mom who wears the shame and stigma of Alcoholism. I started out as a social drinker and progressed to a glass of wine with dinner. During long deployments and lots of stress I turned to wine as my standby. In the end drinking controlled me no longer could I just have one. This is a progressive diseases, it runs in my family. Never did I think I would the the "drunk" of the family. I am a binger drinker and give one drink I can rarely stop at one. I checked myself into rehab because I was so afraid of the things I could do while drunk. This is a terrible disease that affects many women. WIth all the stigma and misunderstanding women will less likely seek help. No one sets about to destroy their lives and risk losing children they love. I love my family but love is not the answer in this case. I continue to seek help from other women in the same situation. I battle daily with shame and despair. I never give up. This fight is worth winning. The stakes are too high.


I started out a social drinker. And yes I remember those playdates Friday nights that included lots of wine. I am a mom who wears the shame of my alcoholism. I have been to rehab and have relapsed. It is a hard thing to overcome but I have faith that it is no impossible. I have met many sober moms out there in meetings I attend.
This is the kind of illness I would not wish on my worst enemy. It is destroying everything I love. My husband thinks I do this on purpose. As if any sane person would willing drink themselves to the point of disrupting family. I adore my children love them more than anything but with this problem love is not the answer. It is far more complicated and insidious.


Hi Christie, thx for this great post! I appreciate your perspective, humor, and honesty. I just posted this link it to our site at www.life360.com/blog where we are asking the question of our readers, "Do you drink with your kids?". Love to hear what some of your readers might have to say.


Ok, whoa! The fact that you feel guilty about unwinding and having a glass or two in the evening says more about your husband than you.While I applaud a parent that doesn't, we don't all work the same. You are not a teenager, and as long as you KNOW, you will never allow it to be a problem again, you shouldn't let anyone make you feel like you need to hide it.

Ms. Missteps

I get such a kick when people just don’t get it; “it” being humor and whatnot. The ol’ tongue in cheek. Except when humorists are painted as catalysts of societal problems. The media can really suck it sometimes.


You know it is really sad, and annoying for that matter, that people always have to blame others. A woman drank a lot and smoked pot and there was a tragedy. Obviously something was going on in her life or within her, this is not the same as a glass of wine and a deep breath to keep the full time working mom of 2 kids sane. Not the same at all and people need to learn to take responsibility rather than pass the blame. http://www.myhormonesmademe.com


I agree completely with what you said!! Everyone needs to take responsibility for ones own actions and stop blaming others. For god's sake it was 9:00 in the morning! You are talking about adults getting together for some relaxation and company at the end of the day. Not getting drunk in the morning and driving the kiddies into a tree!!! Get a grip people!!

suburban cowgirl

Again you have expressed yourself well and tackled a complicated topic with aplomb. We should all have to be honest with ourselves, know ourselves and act responsibly. Don't cave into what other people do (or tell you they do) and drink OR not drink. It may be hard to do but you'll like yourself a whole lot more. Too bad pot (I think it's cute how you say "the" pot) isn't legal. Never in my years of partaking (no no no, not in the morning, not a lot, not while picking the kids up from school and certainly not while grocery shopping) has anyone else partaking had a car accident, started an argument or babbled about their problems. Christie is right. Ritual makes things more interesting. Put on your cocktail ring, make a decent cocktail and think of something your partner will be interested in hearing. Or smoke a bowl and get out a very small bowl of potato chips. Oh yeah, if you are thinking of drinking and driving, aside from possibly killing someone, see if your bank account has thousands of dollars in it to pay for your bail and attorney fees. My hairdresser told her her story and it costs A LOT when you are arrested for drunk driving.


I love your writing and this article is no exception. Thanks for a refreshing perspective: people have been seeking out experience-enhancing substances since the beginning of time. Almost none of us eschew all of them (most at least enjoy a coffee on Sunday morning) and figuring how much and in what to indulge is the key.