Sarah Cottrell doesn’t find the “wine o’clock” memes on Facebook and Instagram funny anymore.
That’s what happens when humor cuts too deep.
The writer penned an essay for Babble recently, “How Mommy Drinking Culture Has Normalized Alcoholism For Women in America.”
In it, she walks the reader through an average weekday:
- Kids come home (drink a glass of wine)
- Cook dinner (drink a glass of wine)
- Best friend calls to vent (drink a glass of wine)
- Scroll through Facebook during a short blip of alone time (drink a glass of wine)
- Hang with the husband at the end of the night (drink a glass of wine)
‘Is my drinking a problem?’ : The slow process of realization
Suddenly what felt like an average, casual evening at home is met with the realization:
“This is the fifth glass of wine I’ve had in nearly eight hours. An entire bottle of wine — gone. And at no point am I drunk,” she writes.
“Since we live in a culture in which moms and wine are a natural pairing, drinking it during the day has never seemed like crossing a line,” Cottrell tells All the Moms in an email.
When she visits her doctor, she hesitates when asked how much she drinks.
The memes about “fruit salad” (aka sangria) start becoming more awkward than funny.
There’s an element of truth to these jokes that rings too true.
Wine: the ‘must-have accessory for modern motherhood’
“You can’t blame me for my confusion,” Cottrell writes.
“Target now features wine bars, women’s purses now feature hidden pockets to hide wine spouts, and trendy travel mugs regularly feature phrases like ‘This might be wine’ in adorable, curlicue font.”
And anytime she questioned having a drinking problem, she tempered the idea with doubts:
“‘But I’m responsible and reliable,’ or ‘I can count on one hand how many times I’ve been drunk in my life,’ ” Cottrell would think to herself.
She also interviews other moms for her piece who talk about wine being more socially acceptable. It’s seen as “classy” and “even healthy to some, due to the antioxidants.”
Facing reality: Yes, I have a drinking problem.
Eventually, Cottrell talks about coming to grips with her problem, which is especially difficult to accept considering she wasn’t a sloppy drunk.
She is “normal.” She gets her work done, keeps her kids healthy, manages her household, etc.
The hardest part, she writes, is trying to convince others of her problem… because she always looks so put together.
Now, in her first year of sobriety, Cottrell tells All the Moms if her article helps even one mom, writing it will have been worth it.
Some advice from Cottrell to other moms wondering if they have a problem:
If you think it’s a problem, it probably is:
“Wondering about having a drinking problem is such a private and personal thing,” she says. The societal expectation is you don’t get help until it’s for sure a problem.
“Then when they do seek help, it is almost always under the guise of ‘stress’ or anxiety issues,” she says. “If someone is wondering in private if she has a legit drinking problem, then the answer is probably yes and I hope that she asks for help.“
If you need to, unfollow friends who post too many boozy memes:
In Cottrell’s case, she’s very public with her drinking issue, and most people know she doesn’t find drinking jokes funny, she says. But for others, “unfollowing” people on Facebook can be a nice solution for those looking to avoid the awkwardness of un-friending someone.
Consider changing your settings to require approval before being tagged in a photo
“There is nothing worse than trying to get through a day sober and then get tagged in a Facebook meme joking that it’s ‘wine o’clock,’ ” Cottrell says.
A new “habit” to cling to?
She’s trying yoga, moderation and mindfulness, she says. But the true saving grace so far has been quality time with her family.
“The most important thing to me is protecting my sobriety and treating it like a thing that requires attention and compassion every single day.
“I’d tell other women that finding a supportive tribe, whether that is AA or therapy or a group of amazing friends, is the key. I can’t imagine doing this alone.”