Recently I read an article alleging that working mothers who always finish their days with wine are alcoholics. The argument is that we simply can’t get on with our hellacious lives without this heaven-sent, grape-derived narcotic, that it’s some kind of crutch, something more sinister than a reward for never-ending work: an opiate to assuage the simultaneous dullness and overstuffing of our lives and provide a peaceful refuge.
This article was not only offensive, it also doesn’t accurately characterize me and my working sisters who are just trying to juggle it all while sneaking the teensiest bit of pleasure into our days. It’s not like our husbands are going to be responsible for that. My own husband hasn’t seen his toes since 1999. He can barely bend over to tie his shoes, let alone blow my mind in the bedroom. I gotta look for fulfillment elsewhere.
And it’s not that I’m not fulfilled by the kids. I love them, I really do. What kind of mother doesn’t? They’ve turned out a little chubbier than I’d hoped. They didn’t get it from me. I thought they’d inherit my mom’s sky-high metabolism. She’s as mean as a goat but at least she’s thin. It’s Bruce. His family thinks Velveeta is just about the finest delicacy the food world has to offer. I’ve always raised them on good food, but it’s like they inherited this obsession for Oreos or something. Like, genetically they know Oreos exist and they have to have them. It’s as innate as wanting to reproduce, which I’d love to tell them from experience is not an impulse worth listening to. Animalistic drives aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Just look at, well, animals. It’s not like an animal ever invented anything useful. The height of animal culture is licking oneself on a regular basis.
And I don’t need a glass of wine at the end of the night to get me through whatever bullshit was on my to-do list that day, that I probably didn’t get to anyway. That’s where the article really goes wrong, I think. I get that if you absolutely positively need alcohol to get through anything then yeah, maybe there’s a problem. I could just as well go without. But why should I? That’s like telling runners they should stop what they’re doing cause the runner’s high is bad. It’s so puritanical. It’s like we’re all supposed to live our lives as plainly and humbly as possible. I didn’t sign up to live in an Amish community, thank you. Those hats would look super weird on my head, I just know it. All the other Amish people would make fun of me and then we’d probably get in trouble for being rude or vain and have to say extra prayers. I don’t know.
I checked with my friends to see what they thought about this whole alcoholic working mom nonsense. My friend Carly was the one who sent it to me in the first place. “It’s so offensive,” she said. “And of course the writer of the article is a man. Little mystery why he slanders one of the few minor vices the average working mother gets to indulge in.” We certainly don’t have time for anything significant. “I fail to see how enjoying a glass of rosé while preparing dinner for my children makes me a worse mother than one of those rich women who has three nannies and spends all day at the spa,” Gina chimed in. By now we had an engrossing and thought-provoking email thread going. She’s right. We would all just love to spend more time injecting some fun into these humdrum days but when it comes down to it the options are limited. “What kind of publication would run with this misogynist drivel???” Carly wrote 5 minutes ago, in case we had forgotten this point.
I won’t deny I’ve been sipping on some Yellow Tail merlot as I type this. It’s sweet and delicious and a real bargain. I have my family’s finances at heart when I peruse the Trader Joe’s wine aisle. I’m not a snob. My kids need new shoes every 15 goddamn minutes and that means I don’t have a whole lot of wiggle room for finer blends. That suits me just fine. I have other things to worry about in life. I don’t just spend every minute of every day looking forward to that glorious moment when the kids are occupied, dinner’s on the stove and I can pop the cork, swirl my glass and take the first long, soothing sip of my best friend Vino. That’s some misogynist writer’s fantasy about the working mom, as Carly would say. That isn’t it at all.
The kids are in bed. Bruce is at poker night. He’s going to want some mac and cheese when he gets back, I’m sure. He only eats Kraft. Today is the only time I have for myself in between the meetings and the school runs and the chores and the driving, the endless driving. It hurts no one if I indulge a little bit in a frugally chosen varietal. It can only help.