Wine o’clock

There’s been a bit of discussion around wine o’clock over the last week, prompted by Louise Mensch posting about it on her blog, Unfashionista. One of the newspapers asked if I might write a response to the idea of taking wine o’clock away, so I did but they didn’t use it and I can’t bear waste so here it is*.

Wine is an excellent thing. Given that I worked as a supermarket wine buyer for the best part of a decade it is not surprising I’m a fan. But, that aside, after a typical day – school runs, a supermarket trolley-dash and possibly a conference call in which I try not to let on that I have a 3-foot-tall Power Ranger standing before me – I love having a glass of wine.

Before we go any further, I must address the issue of frazzled mums collapsing on the sofa, glass in hand. Hands up, that’s me. But I am a normal person who likes a glass of wine. I’m not guzzling the bottle. They say women should know their limits. Well, I know mine. It’s fourteen units a week. Sometimes I drink less than that, sometimes a bit more, but generally wine is part of everyday (or rather night) life in our house, usually served with food and an episode of Masterchef/Mad Men (delete as appropriate).

Mothers of old drank gin when pregnant and blew smoke in the other direction when holding a baby. We’ve come a long way since then and shouldn’t be made to feel guilty just because we love a glass of wine at the end of the day. Motherhood already comes with a side order of guilt, and so on behalf of all of us who drink responsibly I’m sending that particular dish back. I wrote my book because I thought that seeing as we’re (in my experience, anyway) drinking less than we used to, we should make each glass count and drink better.

Any given day with small children generally involves tears, laughter and endless trips to the loo. And that’s just me. The point is, motherhood is a joy but it is also completely exhausting. Along with the sheer pleasure and wonder our children bring us on a daily basis (no laughing at the back) we are also faced with the slightly less joyful tasks of endless piles of washing to sort out, running a canteen and taxi service, wiping noses and bottoms and kitchen tables whilst picking up random bits of plastic on the way. Motherhood ain’t no place for sissies, as they say. It is chaotic, messy and very, very noisy. But when the day is done, and the children are put to bed with clean faces and full tummies, I love the quiet that descends. Like a blanket, it gently tucks itself over the house. And when it does finally happen, the quiet is restorative. It’s grown-up time, and a glass of wine marks the split between the rest of our day and the time we have to ourselves in the evening. I don’t have a glass of wine every evening, but more often than not I do. It is usually delicious and crucially it is about the taste, rather than the hit. So I won’t get wound up by those who want to take wine o’clock away. I’ll just pop the kettle on for them.

KM x

*adapted from my book .

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25 Comments

  1. Very well said. It seems as if alcohol is the new stick with which to beat ourselves and judge others. That's rather sad. I drink less wine than I used to, but I would never begrudge a parent having a nice glass at the end of the day – as long as isn't, as you say, guzzling the bottle every night. You only live once, as they say.

  2. I've spent the best part of today (Mother's Day in the USA) telling people to shove it when they say that it shouldn't be Mother's Day because that doesn't include women who don't have children for whatever reason. (You don't say.) I am really fed up with people everywhere telling other people what to do. Everyone needs to mind their own business and stop validating their own choices by criticizing others.
    Hic!

  3. You've nailed it, spot on. Motherhood has enough guilt that we needn't add to it over something pleasurable. Because if we were to so that, well there goes chocolate, tea, shopping, socializing, sex, etc. Wine is an addition, not a necessity per se, and as with anything and everything: we shouldn't go prying in people's bedrooms, why would we then dining room or kitchen?

  4. Excellent piece as ever. CHEERS!

  5. Great piece – totally agree. If you drink responsibly, why not?

  6. It does rather feel as if there are elements of society that are out to have a go over women and mothers in particular over anything they can lay their hands on – perhaps a sign that we are becomming too vocal and too visible and that they feel threatened by us?

  7. Oh, but middle class, stay at home wine drinkers are the new alcoholic burden on society and the nhs, never mind that they pay the taxes that fund it. The work-shy knackers who sit in pubs from opening until they piss themselves and get kicked out, or run out of dole money are no longer the problem don't you know!

  8. Great article Helen. "..tears, laughter, and that's just me." That made me laugh! But on a more serious note I welcome any effort to help mothers ditch the guilt. I do actually use wine as a kind of stress relief, which regularly sends me over my recommended units. So I have recently started using this website http://www.drinkaware.co.uk/ which has really helped me. (I'm not affiliated and never usually post links in comments but thought this might help other mums like me!)

  9. So, where's the piccy of the fake tan/kittens? I'm dying to see!

  10. Ooh…did you say you'd written a BOOK?

  11. "Along with the sheer pleasure and wonder our children bring us on a daily basis…" I think that was me laughing down the back. The only wonder in this house is that I don't start drinking at 10am…
    A lovely, articulate piece, as ever. xx

  12. Amen! Ugghhh the guilt! There should be warnings about it before becoming a parent – it gets you time and time again! I too, drink less now than I used to (being up at least once in the night with baby, then up at 5.30 with toddler has forced restraint!). Also, on a bit of a budget at the moment, so purposefully buying fewer bottles, but making the ones I do buy really count – trying new things and upping the per bottle spend. So far so good!

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