Friday, January 26, 2007

Ambiguous Cocktail Play Date Hangover - Why Moms Are Buzzing


Just a minute ago The Today Show aired a segment on moms who drink alcohol during play dates. Isn't this non-news? Actually, I'm not sure. Right now my opinions are about as firm as Jell-o shots on the issue. Slippery at best.

Can't mothers "have a life" enough to party without dragging the kids along? Or do we all need a little fermented liquid helper to relax enough to hang out together without judging each other, without competing with each other over who has the most behaved child, which of our kids goes to the best school (Montessori, Waldorf, public, private) and which of us works out often enough?

Yes, at the risk of sounding completely processed squeeze-cheesy, this morning's report has me buzzing. (Yeah, I loves me a bad cliche.)

After a teaser for NBC's Cocktail Play Dates story, and during the commercials preceding it, I found myself asking these questions: How many more times can modern moms go under the societal microscope? How many more times can the media point the finger at stay-home and working moms for being anything less than perfect, even when they're simply trying to relax, to chill with fellow moms and have a little fun?

Surprisingly enough, and I mean a PLEASANT surprise from the media for once, The Today Show report miraculously did not lambaste or crucify moms for sipping more than just juice - fermented juice, wine and even hard alcohol laden cocktails - while corralling their mini-me's together to raise the play structure roof.


"A jungle gym, a sand box and a glass of wine," an NBC reporter dramatically announced, in the kind of overly sensational sentence fragment TV news is infamous for.(Face it, chopped up bites of sentences might be all the average American TV viewer is capable of digesting.) "It's hanging with the kids, feeling like a grown up."

Yes, Exactly. At first glance. But what happens when we go beyond the salted rim of the Marguerite glass?

I have to wonder, are we talking cocktail play dates on the weekend or a week day/work day? And why is it that we are forced to drink and socialize WITH the kids at arm's length? Where are the other halves to hopefully offer harried, often overwhelmed and overbooked moms their long overdue "me time"? Essential girls night out time. Are our partners that unsupportive that we can't go out drinking without the kids in Peg Perigo tow? Can't we count on each other to babysit, cover us for a while so we can enjoy a drink and a night on the town?

Do you think chardonnay sipping mothers in France and Sangria sipping mothers in Spain harangue each other like we do about their play date drink choices? Are American mothers really as paranoid and overly safety obsessed as the rest of the world says we are?

Personally, I've never had a drink during a play date, but I have on rare occasion ushered in the child frenzied morning in the privacy of my home with a sparkling Mimosa. Only during the holidays, in fact, when leftover champagne crowded the top shelf of my fridge. I don't think I've ever been to a child's birthday party where beer, wine or other spirits were served.

Now that I think of it, I take that back. Strong mimosas were served at a recent birthday party my eldest son was invited to. I only had one mimosa. The hostess repeatedly offered me more, despite my telling her over and over again that I had to stay sober to drive to our next birthday party of the day. I wonder how the other moms got home because many of them had far more than one.

A perky, slim, perfectly put together looking mom interviewed for Today's report with cocktail in hand said, "Sure, be sober 15, 16, 17 hours a day and watch (the kids) and I'd like to see if they're great moms."

Perhaps she went a little too far in her public boldness here, but I see where she was headed. As a fan of honesty, full disclosure and cathartic public confessions, I applaud her bravery.

We all know that sometimes staying home with the kids borders on madness. It's a daily exercise in testing our personal limits, our patience, our fortitude. So what if a touch of merlot at the end of a bitch of a day with the kids takes you places that mantras and meditation might not. Pleaes, just don't swig like a lush, dear mamas. Especially if your partner won't be home to put the kids to bed.

Who am I to preach, ladies? I got plenty tipsy on Christmas Eve when the kids were still up and dropped a cake in the washing machine. In my defense, my parents-in-law and husband were on hand to help with the kids when mommy took herself too far. Come on, it was the holidays. I was festive.

Still, I'm mixed like a stiff drink on the whole issue. How about you? Let me know where you stand? If you've attended cocktail play dates, share your story? I find that whenever moms come out, take a risk and admit to their mistakes, we all feel better. We know we're not isolated. Alone. I allow for anonymous comments here, so don't be shy.

"it's not that they need a drink, they say," but that having one is the break between boredom and loneliness that moms seek."

One of the silliest news bits that came out of this morning's report was "Juice boxes coexist with wine glasses here." Who writes this stuff?

A book called Sippy Cups are Not for Chardonnay was also featured in the report. I think I can wait for that one to come out at the library.

Mothers Don't Let Sloshed Mothers Drive Home Drunk From Play Dates (MDLSMDHDFPD or MADD? I'm sticking with MADD. It's shorter, and who can remember the other trailing acronym when seeing double?!)
One last thought, just who is driving these kids home from play dates if all the moms are tipping it back? Why wasn't the issue of designated drivers broached in The Today Show report? As a journalist, I think they really missed the boat on this one.

What does the idea of cocktail play dates shake up and stir in you?

Ps. Cheeks is at the pediatrican's with his papa, hopefully having his staples removed from his head. I'll let you know how it went.


At 10:37 AM, Anonymous crunchy carpets said...

I have a playdate friend who has a drinking problem....though she is in total denial about it.

She has tried to serve me these MASSIVE Vodka drinks when we have had the kid over....being that everything gives me headaches....this does not work for me.

I also don't think it is necessary....and this is from a woman pre child who would celebrate happy hour no matter WHAT the timezone was!

And yes the driving thing is a HUGE concern.

She also served Sangria at her daughters birthday.

I don't serve booze at birthday parties UNLESS it is just family and close friends and it is a bbq type thing.

I would never offer it to a pre school mom.

I tend to prefer the wine or whatever to have AFTER the ordeal

At 11:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would be concerned about serving alcohol and then having people leave my house driving. I don't think there's any diff in having a couple drinks at home with your kids around, which people do ofter, or having a couple drinks with friends with children around. I just don't like the drinking and driving part of it.

and I drink maybe one or two beers a year. Just so you know.

At 1:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have never been to a play date that didn't have alcohol. It was never a conscious decision on the Mom's part. Its always been casual..'do you wanna beer..?'I just have casual friends like that. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. But I have NEVER gotten drunk at a play date. I would never put my kids in danger, at home or anywhere else. I am an adult. WE are adults. Hopefully responsible adults who can have a beer or a glass of wine and still be able to drive home. If you can't, don't drink. We should all know our own personal limits by now, that is part of being an adult and a responsible parent.
I should stop being anonymous. I'm so not an anonymous type person.

At 1:53 PM, Blogger Stefanie said...

Hey There,

I'm the author of Sippy Cups (please buy it from a store, it's like 10 bucks and really funny). I just wanted to say that no one was talking about driving drunk because no one was driving drunk. I usually have a glass of wine at my friend Shannon's (her backyard was where we were playing), make dinner for the kids and go home later. But by 9 p.m., i'm exhausted and in no mood to "go out with the girls" while my husband watches our daughter or do much else but watch "Orange County Housewives" and go to bed. That's it.

At 7:43 PM, Blogger BlogWhore said...

hey i love stefanie and her blog. i am all about the booze and babies... as meredith put it.


At 8:11 AM, Blogger BlondeMom said...

I think it's just another way for mainstream media to get ratings. I live in the South, was raised Southern Baptist, and believe me it was a HUGE deal for my small hometown to get liquor stores!

We regularly keep beer and wine in the fridge and we usually have a drink with dinner, but for playdates nope I don't drink. However I don't think there's anything wrong with an occasional drink if you are getting together with friends and kids. But I kind of doubt there are moms really planning drunked up playdates! We took our girls to our local pizza place, complete with game room for the kids, last Friday night. It's less than a mile from our house. You can bet the hubby and I both ordered a beer!

But I personally don't know any moms who plan cocktail playdate parties. If I want to go have a drink with a friend, I have a buddy who I meet about once a month for one margarita. That's my big indulgence. ;)

I'm with Crunchy Carpets...I usually need a drink AFTER the playdate not during. Ha!

At 10:36 AM, Blogger Joselle@WilliamsTriplets said...

hmm. Triplets + Tequila. It is an intoxicating adventure in itself just trying to get all 3 in the car by myself, lest attempt it after cocktails. I'm split on the issue. Would I serve liquor at a playdate at my house- no. Would I leave in rebellion if it was served at someone else's- nope. And truthfully, I guess drinking has become so nonchalant these days that I would really need to sit here and think if I remember either way liquor even being in attendance.

At 12:33 PM, Blogger Melissa R. Garrett said...

I have really mixed feelings about this topic as well (I, too, saw the piece). There were a few things that bothered me about the story, the first being the statement, "Sure, be sober 15, 16, 17 hours a day and watch (the kids) and I'd like to see if they're great moms." For one thing, I know I am a great mom. Do I think I am perfect? Absolutely not! Do I often lose my temper? Sure! But I don't feel as though I have to have a drink, even just one, to calm my nerves. That's what a bathroom and a lock on the door is for, so you can go in there, scream into your sleeve, splash some cold water on your face, and resume your day. I also couldn't help but wonder, what would happen if one of the kids had an accident and the EMT showed up only to discover an opened bottle of wine and half-empty wine glasses. I totally believe those moms when they say they are not getting drunk, but it just looks a little . . . out of place. I wouldn't consider myself drunk after one glass of wine, but I would definitely feel too lightheaded to be able to reliably drive home. What ever happened to offering coffee or tea at a playdate? Maybe some lemonade and cookies? Oh, and I also didn't like the fact that one mom said she uses the drinking as a way to "weed out" other mothers. I don't really like to drink, and I would decline one if offered. But who's to say I can't hang out with you? Who's judging who now?

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