We Are Both Right

Mommy Cocktail Hour? I’ll Bring the Margarita Mix!

© hisks/stock.xchng

© hisks/stock.xchng

About two years ago, my daughter and I went to a group playdate, hosted by one of the moms in our playgroup. It was a summer day during the week and scorching hot outside. As the kids frolicked through the sprinklers, they sipped freezing cold juice boxes and ate their weight in ice pops.

As we moms settled in, the hosting mom offered us all drinks — soda, water, ice tea and wine coolers. There were a few giggles, but some did decide to grab one of the fruity adult drinks and then we all continued about our lazy summer afternoon for the next hour watching the kids, gossiping and even taking a run through the sprinklers ourselves (it was hot, I tell you).

Nobody thought much of anything until the hosting mom’s husband got home.

“Are you drinking?” he asked incredulously with a tone that rivaled that of a father whose daughter had been out all night. “On a playdate? With the kids here?”

We all looked at one another. I guess we were. Sort of. I mean maybe three or four of the women of our group of ten had each consumed one wine cooler. Not exactly the makings of a college frat party, but yes, I suppose we had been “drinking.”

Our gathering broke up not too long after that, as it was becoming clear that hosting mom and surprised dad suddenly had some issues to work through. A few days later, she fumed to us, embarrassed by her husband’s outburst.

“He thinks nothing, NOTHING,” she railed, “of downing beer after beer on Sunday afternoon while he watches the football game with his friends. I’m at work and he’s in charge of the kids. And he doesn’t see anything wrong with that. But we open a pack of wine coolers on a Wednesday afternoon and suddenly I’m in need of an AA meeting.”

(It was over two years ago, so maybe this isn’t exactly what she said, but the spirit of the quote — and her anger — I promise, is dead-on accurate.)

It’s an interesting issue isn’t it? “Mommy cocktail hours,” drinking on playdates — one that raises a lot of eyebrows and one that inspires quite a bit of debate and judgement. Because if you are “for” “letting” parents have a glass of wine while the kids play in the next room (or worse, if you’ve done it yourself) you find yourself in this weird parenting judgement zone surrounded by pointed fingers, hushed whispers and sobriety coins.

Me? While I’ve never done it, I don’t have a problem with it. I also don’t have a problem with having a glass of wine with dinner while either out or at home with my family, partaking in a glass of adult “punch” at a family gathering or even having a beer at a neighborhood barbecue.  As long as the adult involved knows when to stop and is sober enough to drive, I think having a drink or two in front of kids is perfectly fine.

And that, my friends, is really the issue. Not having a wine cooler within the narrow confines of a playdate.

But while I disagree, I do understand the backlash of these “Wine and Whine” gatherings. It’s a perception thing. I get it. Because having a glass of wine at 2 p.m. while the kids build a Lego tower in the next room sounds a lot worse than having a cocktail at a restaurant (even if the kids are present). I think part of it is the word playdate. Over the weekend my two eldest kids each had a friend over. I was the only parent there. Obviously I wasn’t popping the cork on a bottle of bubbly by my lonesome. But when you have a group playdate, or a meeting of a playgroup, and there are multiple parents there who are also good friends (as in the case of my playgroup), that’s a different story.

The thing is, I don’t think we are giving the moms that participate in these things enough credit. No one here is drinking to get drunk. Just looking for an opportunity to socialize with friends. Moms by nature, are caregivers. And for me anyway (and I would imagine the majority of moms), my kids are my number one priority. I’m never going to put myself (or my children) in a situation where I’m impaired and not able to care for them properly. A wine cooler on a hot summer afternoon with friends doesn’t prevent me from making sure my kids are cared for, well-fed, clean and safe.

And yes, you are always going to have a mom or two who takes advantage, who has too much. But you will have that in life. And if she can’t control herself on a playdate, then chances are she can’t do it in other places too. There’s a bigger problem there, not just wine at 3 p.m. with some friends.

What do you think? Would you (have you) ever drink an adult beverage on a playdate? What about in front of your kids? At Suzanne’s house, when the kids are around, we drink chocolate milk and fruit punch. (Which have their own merits too!)