What surprised me the most in Ms. Shriver's report wasn't so much the drinking at play dates but that when asked to discuss it the questions didn't seem to prompt any of the women to pause and consider their actions. They seemed sort of proud that the were having wine parties in the middle of the day. Before I had kids I liked to drink. I have even had a glass of wine with friends in the middle of the day. In retrospect I may have even done so with a friend who has kids. Now that I am a mom my perspective has changed. I think more about how my actions will shape my children's thoughts about how things should/should not be done. I don't want them to think that drinking will solve their problems or that I need to drink to make it through the day with them. Nor is it a reward for "surviving" the week balancing work, their needs, trips to the playground....life.
At some point we also have to talk about the safety risks associated with drinking while caring for our children. The thought that I might have to drive my children to the emergency room is always in the back of my mind when I am considering having a drink. I feel a responsibility to be "on" and ready no matter what my children need. What if that night is the night they have a fever and need me to stay awake holding them and providing them comfort? I relish the moments when my babies need me for I know all too soon they will be "big girls" and need me far less. For the mom's who drive home from playgroup what if that is the day someone runs a stop light and crashes into her? Maybe the one glass of wine didn't affect her much but did it make her miss seeing the car out of her peripheral vision? Obviously these dangers aren't limited to drinking at playgroup but they are an overarching consideration when deciding to drink.
People say children change your life. They're right. It isn't just less sleep, stepping over toys, and thousands (yes, thousands) of diapers. It is also about the unexpected behavioral changes in ourselves like drinking less. To be clear, I still drink but when I do so the decision is made much more thoughtfully. It is a small price to pay.
By: Jennifer Klos, Mother of two