Mommy and Me and a Glass of Chianti

This weekend I watched well-known blogger Melissa Summers who writes at Suburban Bliss interviewed by Meredith Vieira on the Today Show about the “growing trend” for stay-at-home moms to turn playdates into mini happy hours. Vieira also interviewed a woman physician and the taped segment featured comedian and author of “Sippy Cups are Not for Chardonnay” Stefanie Wilder-Taylor (love the name of that book) with a couple of her mom friends at a backyard playdate where they sipped on wine.

Now is it really a growing trend? Or is this just a “portray moms as desperate housewives” non-issue designed to boost ratings and drive traffic to NBC’s iVillage site? A New York Times story last fall featured moms who live in an affluent suburb of Philadelphia, which is not a snapshot of typical backyard America. One woman interviewed for the Times piece confessed that she basically passed out after a playdate happy hour. She obviously has a problem. And I don’t want to sound like a Kenny Chesney song, but back where I come from it was a huge deal to finally get liquor stores “in town.”

It’s tempting to criticize others for their parenting choices. Sometimes I drink a glass of wine or a beer in front of my girls. Does that make me a bad mother?

Open our refrigerator and you will probably see a bottle of white wine or a six pack of beer next to the apple juice and whole milk. My 4-year-old goes to “the bottle store” (liquor store) with her daddy. Just last weekend we went to our local pizza parlor and we each sipped on a beer. Afterwards my husband drove the less than one mile home. Neither of us overindulge on alcohol at this point in our lives. Now if you’re driving a car after drinking or in some way jeopardizing your childrens’ safety while under the influence of alcohol, that’s irresponsible. But drinking responsibly in front of one’s children is a chance to demonstrate that moderation and self control are essential to being an adult.

I grew up in a very conservative small Southern community. And today, although I live in the ‘burbs, it’s still a pretty conservative area. I don’t drink at “playdates” and honestly I’ve never really thought about it. I guess I’m really uncool because I don’t even use the word playdates. I usually call up a friend and say, “hey would you like to get together with the kids tomorrow?” For me, it’s more of a treat for my husband to watch the girls while I occasionally meet a friend out for a margarita or go out with a group of friends from work for dinner and a movie.

As you can guess, I am definitely not a tee totaler but the notion that drinking sorts the “fun” moms from the non-fun moms vibe I get bugs me a little. What are we, a big mommy sorority? My daughter plays with my neighbor’s little girl all the time and we don’t drink alcohol while they play. Does that make us both sticks in the mud?

I am doubtful that this is really a “trend” other than in a few metropolitan, more affluent areas. But it generates a “buzz,” no pun intended. As someone who works in publishing, I’ll be the first to admit that the possibilities for teasers on stories about cocktail playdates are a headline writers’ paradise. Booze and binkis! Sangrias in the sandbox! Oh, the list could go on. Don’t get me started.

Mothers are an influential demographic, shaping everything from morning news show programming to advertising campaigns. This article notes that moms control more than 80 percent of household spending. This would be the perfect chance for a winery to bottle a “Mommy’s Timeout” line. Hey, I’d buy it.

All kidding aside, when next year’s presidential candidates discuss the issues that are of utmost concern to the average parent, moms occasionally drinking a glass of wine in front of their kids will not be part of their talking points.

In the mean time, I’m going to focus on some of the disturbing growing trends at our house…”Children Who Refuse to Eat Vegetables!” and “Using Nick Jr. as a Babysitter!”

Updated to add: Click here to check out Stefanie Wilder-Taylor’s book on Amazon. And click here to visit Melissa Summers’ blog, Suburban Bliss (home of the momtini!)

And here’s photographic evidence that I like my wine.

21 comments

  1. Nancy says:

    Perfect, sister. Absolutely you are correct.

    Now, who’s going to bring the wine when we finally get to do our in-person playdate (one of these fine days)? 🙂

  2. Charla says:

    I agree…I think too big of a deal has been placed on the whole situation in the first place. Let people do what they want to do with their own children – as long as no one is in danger. To openly “yay or nay” it on national television is like opening up the DREADED breast or bottle debate. No one is going to win and nothing good comes from the arguement.

  3. Blonde Mom says:

    Charla:

    The irony of me even writing about a non-issue is kind of funny to me. I almost didn’t post this but then I kind of got into the researching the moms as a big demographic thing. Have I mentioned lately that I’m a big nerd? 😉

  4. Renee says:

    I’m with you. I watched the clip and thought Melissa presented it well and made some good points. I very rarely drink, but hey, I can sure see many times when a glass of wine or a beer may help!

  5. Dawn K says:

    I saw the piece and thought the same thing – this shows a very small slice of suburban demographics that doesn’t really represent Mommies in general. If researching makes you a nerd then I must be Super Nerd!

    I think anything done to an extreme can be bad for you and your family – overeating, overspending, over indulging on alcohol.

    I watched the Oprah segment last week (DVR because I work)on working moms vs. SAHMs and the only thing I came away with was that Mommies can be a very judgemental group of people and maybe we just need to cut each other a little slack. I could easily get on my soapbox but I won’t take up all of your comment space.

    Cheers!

  6. Bluegrass Mama says:

    When our son was little, my best friend and I practically lived at each other’s houses with our kids. I am pretty sure we probably had a glass of wine now and then if it was late in the day. This was pre-Desperate Housewives, so no one thought to interview us about the habit. And our kids seem to have turned out okay anyway.

  7. jag says:

    My not-yet-parent friends and I have discussed drinking in front of kids at length…in our pre-child naivete, we’re convinced that having them will not ruin our social life if we can help it. And you’re right, I think that it does teach moderation and self control when done right. Besides, my experience shows that the kids whose parents never partied at all are the ones who rebel the most, while to the kids who were around it all their lives (again, in moderation) are the ones to whom drinking is no big deal when they turn 16 or so. Those are just generalizations, I know, but mostly true, I think.

  8. Colleen says:

    I saw the segment and thought that Meredith Viera and the doctor were way too harsh on Melissa the way they kept badgering her. I just finished reading about Melissa’s whole experience on her site. Sounds like she was pretty much set up from the beginning.

    Not to sound like a broken record, but having A drink in front of your kids isn’t a problem in my opinion. Drinking heavily and being drunk in front of them is. I know my limits and enjoy a drink socially in front of my daughter every now and then. I see no issue with it.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, my margarita appears to be melting…

  9. mayberry says:

    You’d only be a stick in the mud if you got in other people’s faces about what they do… I’d be glad to have a margarita with you anytime, with or without kids around!

  10. Anne says:

    I’m with you. Besides, one of the women in our playdate has never had an alcoholic beverage in her life so that would just be awkward. I have honestly never even considered drinking during a playdate. Weird. But then, I don’t have playdates during the cocktail hour of 5-6 pm.

  11. kelli says:

    I agree with you Blondie. I don’t necessarily think that was cool that she said she weeds out the nerdy moms from the cool moms. I agree if I’m at home and have a glass of wine in front of my kids or I’m out at someones house it’s ok. But not to be wasted in front of them. I always get tired if I have a drink during the day. Not good if I’m trying to keep up with my two year old. I’m such a light weight these days. I don’t even count for this conversation. I’m going to shut up now :0)

  12. Pattie says:

    Hi Jamie,
    I wonder if what she meant was that she would weed out the moms who would judge her if she chose to have a glass of wine at a playdate, and they wouldn’t. I don’t know….I am just spectulating. I found the whole thing ridiculous myself. I think Stephanie said it best when she pointed out this issue is just another thing that provides mothers the opportunity to judge each other’s parenting.

  13. Blonde Mom says:

    Pattie:

    I think you are right. I guess I would never choose to not socialize, though, with other parents if they didn’t drink. I just don’t think about the combination of drinking and afternoon playdates but maybe I should. 😉

    Jokes aside, is it much different to invite friends with kids over and the adults sip on wine or beer while the kids play? Not much. And I just still can’t get over that this was a “growing trend” that deserved so much attention on a national morning news program but then I am contributing to the fray by blogging about it! 😉

  14. Mrs. M says:

    Booze and Binkis…MY FAVORITE!!!!
    Next thing you know there’ll be the toddler-tini for sippy cups.
    1 part apple juice
    1 part water
    cherry on top!

  15. Mrs. Flinger says:

    I’ve mentioned how glad I am that my mom and dad drank in front of me as I was growing up. It taught me to be responsible when I drink since I saw a role model of someone having a (A) glass of wine each night. That’s it. It wasn’t a big deal. Ever.

    Now, I will enjoy wine or vodka tonic when the mister gets home (pre-pregnancy of course) and might even have a beer at a friend’s house with our kids playing outside. But really? A BEER? Pshhhaw. It’s not a mini-bar. It’s a beer.

    Obviously people have their granny-panties in a twist.

  16. MommasWorld says:

    I think you should get a trademark lable for “Mommys Timeout”. I would so buy a case just so I could give a bottle to each of my dearest friends on Mother’s Day. I hope you don’t mind but I quoted you in my blog today.

    Have a fantastic day!

  17. Vol Abroad says:

    What kind of a mother are you? Are you trying to poison your kids with the contents of your fridge? Whole milk? Sheesh.

    Some people can make a controversy out of anything.

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