When I Grow Up

It’s Not About the Wine, The Problem With Mommy Wine Culture

I’ve admired Celeste Yvonne’s writing for years, so when she asked for help launching her first book, It’s Not About the Wine, The Loaded Truth Behind Mommy Wine Culture, I was quick to sign up. I couldn’t say what I expected, but it wasn’t this. A genre-bender that expertly weaves memoir, self-help and social commentary, this book convincingly makes the case that we, as a society, need to do better.

The author shares her story as a recovering alcoholic, explaining how and why she stopped drinking. She makes no excuses for her own behavior, but points out an unfortunate truth: “alcohol often overpowers the strongest, highest achievers.  … [T]he pressure to drink in work and social settings can override any sensible effort to take care of ourselves.”

Celeste rightfully, takes issue with “mommy wine culture” and explores its deep, dark origins. She argues that moms often bear the brunt of the mental load in families They often feel isolated and inadequate (this is particularly true for first-time moms and those experiencing PPD) and may turn to alcohol (a legal drug) to help cope. While society does acknowledge that parenting can be hard, there are few resources available for those who are truly struggling.

A couple generations ago, people joked about “mother’s little helper;” today there are an abundance of “Mommy needs a drink” memes. Of course, there are problems with this narrative. It encourages us to treat depression and anxiety with a depressant. It also can contribute to relationship and self-esteem issues as well as depression and anxiety in our children. Who wants to hear that a parent needs to drink in order to cope with their (age-appropriate) childish behaviors.

Throughout the book, the author shares her experiences with alcohol and her journey to sobriety. She admits to having worries about being around other people when she first stopped drinking. She thought she’d be considered a “Betty Buzzkill,” and that people wouldn’t want to spend time with her.  She expressed surprise at her discovery that some people stopped at one or two drinks, that not everyone who drank was “out to get blitzed every chance they got.”

While her personal experiences are the heart of this book, the author also includes stories of other women who struggled with their alcohol use. But this is not simply a collection of stories. She has also done her research. I these pages can be found information on credible studies not only about alcohol abuse but also eating disorders, depression and anxiety, all of which often co-exist.

I am not the target audience for this book, but I have known and loved several problem drinkers, and see truth in what she has written. While I used to laugh at the jokes, I too came to the conclusion that I don’t want my children believing they would actually “drive me to drink.” I applaud Celeste Yvonne foe being brave enough to challenge these “norms” and step out into the open to encourage other moms to do the same.

This book is a valuable resource for any woman (and perhaps some men) questioning their drinking habits, who is sober curious, and/or who is looking for support on their journey to sobriety. It should also serve as a call to action for a society that has done too little to support parents during a time that can be among the happiest and most challenging periods of their lives. For those who are struggling, this book presents a clear, encouraging message from someone who’s been there: “sobriety wasn’t a punishment. … sobriety was the reward.”

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