We all have visions of the families we'll create. Children frolicking, glitter glimmering and home-cooked meals simmering. Then we actually have kids and reality sets in. Children demand, glitter flies and pizza is served. Marile Borden — drowning in chicken nugget reality — realized that moms would be much better off knowing that they're not alone. That in fact, other moms consider Oreos a food group and hide kindergarten projects at the bottom of recycling bins.
Marile recognized that what moms need is a release and other moms for support. So in 2009, she launched the subscription-based website Momicillin, whose at-the-heart-of-things message was Motherhood is hard, and I am far less than perfect. It was a place where moms gathered and discussed things from the trenches — like Oreos and dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets. From there, Marile distilled the message further to Mommy needs a glass of wine. And December 2009, Moms Who Need Wine was born as a website and a Facebook community
Striking a chord
Within hours of launching, Marile had thousands of visitors. Within months she had tens of thousands. And by the end of the year, she had over one hundred thousand visitors and fans. To date, the Moms Who Need Wine Facebook group has almost 653, 000 members! Clearly, Marile struck a chord.
A hot button
What happened next though, was fascinating. Marile's message was lighthearted and meant to be taken with a grain of salt. Her website says, "While wine is our trademark, we encourage our moms to always use good judgment and drink only in moderation. We firmly believe that it's all about the release, and not about the drink. A piece of chocolate, a cafe latte or a good chick flick can be just as effective."
But Marile says that what our society — the nay-saying part of it at least — heard was, "Mom is self-medicating. Mom is being irresponsible. Mom needs to take care of her children and not herself. Mom should not need alcohol, it's a drug!"
From there, the negative spin on moms needing a release spiraled, resulting in articles, television shows and even books dedicated to the topic of how moms shouldn't drink. Marile's response is two-fold.
The good 'ol US of A
First, she points out that this controversy is American bred only. She says, "If you were to ask if moms should drink in Europe, they would think it was a ridiculous question. Having lived in Italy for six months, I can tell you that they have wine on the table breakfast, lunch and dinner. (Well, maybe not breakfast.) They drink it almost like water."
Curious if this theory holds up, we asked Jennie — an American living in France — for her thoughts. She said, "I believe that most people in France consume alcohol so regularly and in such moderation there is little thought, opinion or judgment on the matter. In fact, when I hear of maman needing something, it has little to do with food or drink, and more to do with peace and quiet after lunch or a trip to the spa."
Which begs the question why are we Americans so worried about alcohol consumption? Especially other people's? Marile doesn't have this answer, but she does have another interesting twist to the conversation.
Let's hear it for the boys
Marile flips the question to our partners in crime: Our husbands. Ask yourself how you feel about your husband having a beer at the end of the cul-de-sac? Now how about the stay-at-home mom down the street — can she sip a glass of wine next to him and garner the same reaction?
Marile says, "Dad can come home at the end of the day and say I need a beer! And everyone says poor dad had a rough day at work and hands him a frosty one. So why is it that when — at the end of a long day — Mom says I need a glass of wine! people don't say poor mom had a rough day? Instead the message morphs into Mommy's little problem.
An important part of the issue here is that parents absolutely have to find ways to practice self care. It's what Marile calls "finding that release" and what many moms fail at doing at the detriment of their own health and happiness, and that of their families. Deborah Gilboa, MD says, "Women — and men — must prevent Caregiver Burnout which causes proven health problems including pain syndromes, high blood pressure, depression and anxiety. Taking care of ourselves — or not — is a value and ability we pass to our children. The way to raise kids who eat well, exercise, see doctors when they should and make time for stress-lowering activities is by doing those things ourselves."
So the second, alarming, part of this issue is that women who are admitting that motherhood is hard, that they need a release and that a glass of wine meets that need for them — much like a beer does for their husbands — are being looked down upon.
It's all about choice
Because of these responses and discussions, Marile's message has distilled yet again. She says, "We need to let moms make their own choices for themselves and their families. Will some moms make bad choices? Undoubtedly. Some women drive 95 miles an hour down the highway in the minivan. Does that mean that no woman should ever drive a car? Some moms will ignore their children in favor of playing Farmville on the iPhone. Does that mean that no mom should have an iPhone? Wine is not inherently bad. It's only bad if you use bad judgment. I like to think that — especially when it comes to their family — most moms are going to make safe, responsible choices."
Getting to the heart of things yet again, Marile's thought is that mothers should trust — rather than judge — each other.
Cheers — for everyone?
We can all agree that moms are doing their (very personal) best for their families and that more than ever parents are partnering equally in the hard work that is raising children. But what we're wondering is, what do you think — in the midst of kids and families and cul-de-sacs, is there room for a glass of wine at the end of the day? How about a cold, frosty beer?