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The moment my daughter was born, my algorithm changed forever. Instagram dumped my beloved makeover videos, replacing them with cute babies and sexy mom content. Paid posts convincing me to buy overpriced OshKosh bib shorts (I did). Coils of babies with sweet lips begging for a piece of manda-ween. And… drunk mummy memes.
My daughter is now 16 months old and I love her to death but I am tired, depressed and drowning. I’d like a drink – umbrella optional, alcohol required. Something that says: she’s a new mom, she’s fabulous, she definitely has it all together. Something to deal with the insatiable hormone-driven thirst, the promise of a sugary high, juice to replenish the baby’s stolen vitamins, the lure of a thrill. For the nursing mother, a cocktail is ambrosia.
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My algorithm agrees that I need a drink. “I drink because of my kids,” is the not-so-discreet message from content creators and aspiring influencers that pop up on my timeline when I scroll through my phone during nightly feeds or contact naps. TikTok taught me how to play the “drinking mummy game”: step one, fill your glass with wine; step two, drink whenever your child says mom. A “mama serve” of wine is one filled to the brim with a glass, or better yet, a straw straight into the bottle.
On the few occasions I’ve managed beer, wine, or margaritas since childbirth, I’ve regretted it. It took me months to realize that I couldn’t drink and stay calm during my daughter’s long tantrums or my non-nursing partner’s sleepless nights. I take medication for depression; a drug that many other mothers are prescribed to deal with postnatal depression. The box warns that it should not be taken with alcohol.
I had suspected this would happen, but was no less disappointed when I accepted that a drunken Molly would have to retire. It would now exist only in memories of my friend’s iPhone photos and the occasional nightclub photo that was probably sold to a Russian stock image website. Alcohol and new parenthood don’t mix. However, my timeline is filled with mothers, who lament the chaos in their lives and find peace at the bottom of a glass.
The early 2000s shopper Supre grew up and became a mom, replacing T-shirts that read “don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee” with captions that read “I’m looking for a wine that matches my kids’ being at 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 recently follow went turbocharged with the “mom needs a drink because of her kids” into an obvious follower grab. Other users simply joked that they needed a weekend of booze and away from their kid; you’re tired, stressed, and close to the edge. Upside down!
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Parents can choose not to drink. But what we watch on social media has an impact on our opinions and choices. Whether it’s Andrew Tate telling young men that women are the problem, or a Byron Insta mom curing her postnatal depression with a margarita, a deluge of subliminal messaging can make a dent in your firmly held beliefs. One part subliminal messaging, one part sleep deprivation, rocking hard, and self-sacrificing garnish—I call it Maternal Insecurity on The Rocks.
On good days, I wake up moments before Joey and see his eyes light up as he sees mom for the first time. She smiles with her dazed eyes of hers, sits up and lunges at me for a long hug. And just like that, I’m happy, high, and drunk all at once. But on bad days, I’ve been up all night and my phone tells me it would be so much easier to put a stupid straw in a bottle of shiraz.