It was a radio segment in the morning.
The host said she had started having an alcoholic drink at night and before you know it the drinking became a problem she needed professional help with.
Several parents called up saying they too struggle with alcohol.
The habit that starts with a glass of wine to unwind, then after a while it becomes a bottle…then even more.
This saddened me. The mothers on the phone sounded broken, unhappy, lonely.
While I (no longer) drink alcohol, I could relate.
The conversation took a turn into WHY.
Why do parents turn to alcohol?
There was quite a lot of emphasis on how stressful kids are, how we are doing it alone and it’s hard to ask for help.
It occurred to me that perhaps children are exposed to the idea that the drinking occurs because of them. Hopefully, these conversations are kept to a minimum around them.
Children are taught fairly young that alcohol isn’t always a good decision.
To overhear that a parent is drinking to reduce or cope with stress from being a parent could give a child the impression they are resented or at fault. If the drinking is actually affecting them in other ways, even worse for a child to think they are the trigger.
Comic Credit: Dagsson
I don’t think Mothers are reaching for the bottle just because kids are stressful or because we physically have so many things to do.
Sure, those feelings play their part. But surely it can’t be that simple.
There are reasons far below the surface of just being a stressed out, busy parent.
Mothers are often so emotionally unfulfilled.
It leads to a different type of loneliness.
When you can be in a room full of people and you feel like you don’t exist.
Our story is the same every day, Kids, housework, Life.
It’s so easy for a bottle of wine to become a “friend”.
The main thing I found in common with all the Mums that called up that morning was isolation.
You don’t have to be at home with kids all day to feel isolated.
Work doesn’t provide a rich social experience either.
We are human, we are literally wired neurologically to be social with one another and make human connections.
Take that away and you have a void, something has to fill it?
It’s easy to fill it with more work, drugs, alcohol, sleep, food.
It’s hard to fill it with music, books, friends, exercise + all the other brain food available out there.
A lot of these women had traumatic experiences, but they didn’t feel they were severe enough to seek professional help.
Almost as if they felt silenced because they had to get on with raising kids, hoping the pent up stress and anxiety will resolve itself.
One woman said something along the lines of:
“When it first started I thought, I work hard with my kids. I deserve to have a drink every night”
A bottle of wine is such a poor choice of reward for the work a person does as a parent.
Not because it’s alcohol and “drugs are bad mmkay”
Because it’s consumed at such a shitty time of night, often ALONE and often up way too late desperately seeking “more time”.
We should stop treating “after the kids have gone to bed” as if it’s actual quality time and is enough to keep us from drowning in a pit of darkness.
Yes, I love that time slot, but it’s not a reward.
It’s part of the day.
Alcohol & Mental Health Service Link Up.
Call Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636
Visit your local GP as well.
Tell a friend or family member you can trust that you are seeking help.
You are absolutely not alone, it is a national issue which we should be able to speak about without passing judgement.
Comic is from Dagsson
Hugleikur Dagsson is an Icelandic cartoonist who often brings issues up using comical humour – some of them are extremely crude, usually only because we don’t want to face the reality that they have a truth to them.