When we exchange our Prada bags for Baby Bjorns, we also unwittingly check off the box that says "mothers don't drink." But just because we popped out a baby does not mean we still don't want to pop the Veuve Clicquot!
Why is it that as soon as we become mothers, we are expected to leave our cosmos at the bar and settle for reruns of Sex and the City? Are all mothers who crave a glass or two of wine regarded as closet alcoholics?
When I was single and living in New York City, I regularly went out for a drink with the girls. I loved these evenings (or Saturday afternoons or Sunday brunches) -- they were a fabulous mix of fun, laughter and group therapy with smart, funny, like-minded women. After I married and moved, I continued the tradition with new friends, sharing a glass of wine with a gal pal after work or on the weekends in my new city. My friends and I always referred to these nights as "going out for drinks" or "cocktails with the girls."
So you can imagine my surprise when, after having my twins, the happy hour invites stopped and were suddenly replaced by e‑mails and e-vites for Moms' Book Club, Mommy Spa Day, Make Your Own Purse Night, Mother of Twins Club and- - well, you get the idea. In my sleep-deprived, housebound-new mommy state of mind (did I mention that I was socially starved after weeks of pink and blue onesies?), I dusted off my English major literary prowess and drove to suburbia to my first Moms' Book Club.
Once there, I quickly learned that you cannot judge a book club by its cover. When I arrived at my first "meeting," instead of the provocative book discussion I had expected, I was greeted with a formal wine tasting, followed by a gourmet dinner and after-dinner drinks that lasted well past midnight -- on a weeknight! And then the same thing began to happen again and again: Make Your Own Purse night offered pitchers of sangria, Mother of Twins Club was drinks and appetizers at a local pub, Mommy Spa Day featured mini-spa treatments accompanied by perfectly chilled Pinot Grigio and finger food at the country club. Soon I saw a trend in all these mommy events -- they were our respectable, socially acceptable alibis for drinking. This got me thinking (and talking) about the strange double standard between the non-moms and the new moms. What to Expect When You're Expecting didn't have a chapter titled: "Top 10 Cute Ways for New Mothers to Secretly Steal a Cocktail." What happened to just saying (or even shouting) "I need a drink!"?
As I talked with other moms about this (over an Irish coffee during Knitting Club, of course), a common thread emerged: even when they try to hide it, all mothers (single or married, first-time or veteran) regularly celebrate, relax, and -- yes -- escape with a cocktail, all in the spirit of being a better mommy. A glass of Pinot Noir, a chocolate martini or a pomegranate margarita -- the cocktail does not matter, but the escape and the ability to temporarily blur reality does. Once, on a plane ride back from Las Vegas, another mother told me in a hushed voice that her nightly cocktail was her "mother's little helper," filling that time we all call the witching hour (just after the children's dinner and before Daddy returns home). The more I talked about this to friends and relatives, the more confessions I heard. One mom always jokes, "it's 5:00 p.m. somewhere" while pouring a glass of Chardonnay and calling her sister for a virtual drink date. Others have a weekly or monthly Moms' Club meeting that is never canceled. More attend Moms' Shopping Nights that involve strolling along quaint New England streets where each boutique offers sips of their favorite libations (one store owner and mother told me that these shopping nights can turn into shoplifting nights if the ladies get too tipsy).
Sitting at the computer with a glass of my favorite port, I have a realization: We really aren't any different than our single sisters. Sure, we are moms now. Okay, we left the city for the suburbs. Yes, we have children. Yes, some of us drive minivans, and many of us now call happy hours "moms' nights." But we will never pack away the Prada. We still have shrines to our Jimmy Choos. We will never, ever don mom jeans or need a TLC makeover. Regardless of labels and outdated stereotypes, we will always love and crave our cocktails with the girls. We are still as complicated and delicious as the perfect martini.
As I finish my drink before heading out to the Go Green Trunk Show at a nearby mom's house, I think that maybe I'll host the next event: a cocktail party.
Recipe: The Momtini
Prep time: 20 minutes (2 minutes to pour, 18 to drink)
Mix equal parts friends, fun, and your favorite alcoholic beverage.
Serve immediately and, if possible, without children.
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Excerpt by Laura Rossi Totten from "Mom's Club: The New Happy Hour" from MAKE MINE A DOUBLE: Why Women Like Us Like to Drink (Or Not), edited by Gina Barreca. Used with permission from University Press of New England, www.upne.com.