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 like that your open and honest about what you do and have done. I am the same way about the pot. Except I did it a few years ago after I had done it regularly when I was a teen and it made me think too much about strange things. I would rather have a drink in the evening, but I feel like I am being judged by my husband. When we go out I like to have one or two to loosen up and have a better time. I have recently been hiding my drinking at home, I dont want to think I have a problem because I dont get drunk, I just want one or two, it makes me feel better, It doesnt affect how I treat anyone, It even makes me happier sometimes. I want to be the type of mom that can drink a glass of wine and read at night, but I feel like since my husband doesn't drink and doesn't think I should then I need to hide it. I had a drug and alchohol problem when I was a teenager so I dont want to relapse of course. I like that your open to discuss it.


I think it is ridiculous to blame an author for someones drinking problem. If Schuler drank as much as they are reporting she obviously had a problem. I do like to have a glass of wine in the evening (just one normally) but sometimes feel judged. I posted on the truuconfessions site that sometimes living in suburbia I feel like nobody else really drinks. A lot of people agreed with me. Now I am wondering if there are a lot of people drinking secretly.


I have been reading and hearing all the back-lash and I don't think it is deserved by you or any other author who used the issue figuratively. It's not like anyone put out a handbook for moms saying get drunk and then drive children around. Everything is bad when overdone - too much chocolate, too much caffeine, too much alcohol, too many big macs. It is all about personal responsibility and we are too eager to blame someone else these days. I have enjoyed your books and columns and they have helped me have some laughs when parenting can get stressful. I am very sorry for the loss of lives and feel horribly for all involved in this horrific tragedy. These families will be in my thoughts and prayers. I, however, will not be putting the blame on someone else.