Drinkin’ mums

I’m going to start by blatantly ignoring the fact I haven’t written in MONTHS and just press on as if I’m actually a very diligent, engaging and humerous “blogger”..

Something that has been playing on my mind recently is the ‘mums who drink phenomenon.’ I said to a friend and new mum recently, “I know it sounds like a joke, but drinking mums is a real thing.” We had just settled on a glass of wine with lunch. On a Monday.

I drink. Every mum I know talks about the need to have a drink. Some count down the hours and the minutes and some even day drink. It’s on the TV (for example the very relatable scenes in season 2 of The Letdown) and in books like this one:

And it’s the subject of many memes and hashtags on social media:

But why? Why do we engage in – and celebrate – such unhealthy and slightly disturbing behaviour?

The Health of Queenslanders report says: Slightly more females (24%) than males (21%) reported a mental or behavioural problem (Figure 3.38). Females were 27.4% more likely to report an anxiety-related problem than males (18% compared to 13%) However, females were about half as likely to report an alcohol or drug related problem (0.9% compared to 2.0%).

So, we’re more stressed? And maybe not acknowledging or confessing we have a problem?

However, the same report also says: Adult males were three times more likely than females to drink at risky levels in 2020 with 34% drinking at lifetime risk levels compared to 11% for females. Comparable figures for single occasion risk were 43% compared to 19%. When you drill down to specific age groups, almost 27% of women aged 25-44 are drinking at lifetime risk levels compared to a whopping 70.6% of males in the same age groups!

So.. we don’t drink too much or at least, anywhere near as much as our “male” counterparts? Well, in Queensland at least it looks that way.

But there is other research that is concerning. A study from University SA found a large proportion of female university students engaged in what they termed “Drunkorexic” behaviours. These behaviours include: regularly and purposely skipping meals, consuming low-calorie or sugar-free alcoholic beverages, and purging or exercising after drinking, so as to avoid gaining weight from alcohol consumption.

Ummmm isn’t that just earning your drinks or evening things out? Apparently no – it’s “extremely dangerous” and a “serious health concern.” Now I know this study was on students, but I know mums who behave the same way. I even joked that intermittent fasting would enable me to consume more calories in the form of wine.

Shit.

It’s even more confusing when we are intelligent enough to know the dangers of drinking but do it anyway. And this isn’t just women by any means, of course. Am I depressed because I know I am drinking too much, or is the alcohol making me depressed? Chicken/egg. I always feel tired, and I know alcohol affects the quality of your sleep, but if I don’t have a few drinks I can’t get to sleep!? I feel sad – I need a drink. I’ve had a shit day – I need a drink. I’ve had a great day – let’s celebrate with a drink! I’m feeling any sort of emotion woooo let’s respond with drinking! My joke is that I only drink when I’m emotional (happy, sad, angry..)

This rather long article explores the issue in greater detail than I have done here but the parallels are there – including the huge impact marketing has had on changing our drinking behaviours. But the general gist of the article is that mums drink because it’s the one thing we’ve got. There are things we can’t do as easily or as regularly as mums/parents, there are so many things we’re constantly “told” to do and we already feel so much guilt about just about everything, that we don’t want to feel guilty about this. Just let us have this one thing.

Oh look, it’s 5 o’clock.

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