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.