My timeline is filled with mothers finding peace at the bottom of a wine glass, but alcohol and new parenthood don’t always mix
The moment my daughter was born, my algorithm changed for ever. Instagram dumped my beloved renovation videos, replacing them with cute baby and hot mum content. Paid posts coaxing me to buy overpriced OshKosh dungarees (I did). Reels of kids with sweet lisps asking for a piece of manda-ween. And … drunk mummy memes.
My daughter is now 16 months old, and I love her to bits, but I’m tired, depressed and drowning. I would love a drink – umbrella optional, alcohol mandatory. Something that says: she’s a new mum, she’s fabulous, she definitely has it all together. Something to address the insatiable thirst brought on by hormones, the promise of a sugar high, fruit juice to replenish vitamins stolen by baby, the lure of a buzz. To the breastfeeding mother, a cocktail is ambrosia.
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My algorithm agrees I need a drink. “I drink because of my kids,” is the not-so-discreet message from content creators and influencer-wannabes popping up on my timeline when I scroll through my phone during night feeds or contact naps. TikTok taught me how to play the “mummy drinking game”: step one, fill up your glass of wine; step two, drink every time your kid says mummy. A “mum serve” of wine is one filled right to the rim of a glass, or better yet, a straw straight in the bottle.
On the few occasions I’ve managed beer, wine or margarita since giving birth, I’ve felt regret. It took me months to realise I couldn’t drink and stay calm during my daughter’s long tantrums or my non-breastfeeding partner’s full nights of sleep. I take medication for depression; a medication that lots of other mothers are prescribed to deal with postnatal depression. The box warns it shouldn’t be taken with alcohol.
I’d suspected it would happen, but was no less disappointed when I accepted that drunk Molly would have to retire. She would now only exist in the memories of my friend’s iPhone photos and the occasional nightclub pic that has probably been sold to a Russian stock image website. Alcohol and new parenthood don’t mix. Yet, my timeline is filled with mothers, lamenting the chaos in their life, and finding peace at the bottom of a glass.
The early-2000s Supre shopper grew up and became a mother, replacing tees that read “don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee” with captions that read “I’m looking for a wine that pairs with my kids being home all day” and “the most expensive part of having kids is all the wine you have to drink”. A sleep school Instagram account I follow recently went turbo with the “mummy needs a drink because of her kids” trend in an obvious follower-grab. Other users simply joked they needed a weekend on the booze and away from their kid; you’re tired, stressed and close to the edge. Bottoms up!
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Parents can choose not to drink. But what we watch on social media has an impact on our views and choices. Whether it’s Andrew Tate telling young men that women are the problem, or a Byron Insta-mum medicating her postnatal depression with a margarita, a deluge of subliminal messaging can chip away at your firmly held beliefs. One part subliminal messaging, one part sleep deprivation, shake thoroughly and garnish with self-denial: I call it Maternal Insecurity on The Rocks.
On the good days, I wake up moments before Joey, and get to see her eyes light up as she sees mummy for the first time. She smiles with her groggy eyes, sits up and launches at me for a long hug. And just like that, I’m happy, high and drunk all at once. But on the bad days, I’ve been up all night and my phone tells me it would all be so much easier to put a silly straw in a shiraz bottle.
Molly Glassey is assistant editor, audio and visual at Guardian Australia