Sunday, November 12, 2006

The perils of the momtini

I've been meaning to write about the New York Times' latest motherhood trend story, but was delayed a few days by falling-down drunkenness insane sleep deprivation. In case you haven't heard, Cosmopolitan Moms looks at the apparently new trend of a bunch of women having a glass of wine together while their kids play nearby. And I can not for the life of me figure out why this merits mention in the newspaper. (For example, it totally fails the "Hey Martha" test, in which a story is so interesting, unusual or surprising that it causes Joe Reader to call to his companion and say, "Hey Martha, you gotta read this.")

Yes, the Thursday Styles section tends to include even more ridiculous upper-middle-class trends than does the Sunday section. But what baffles me here is how absolutely pedestrian this story is, and how far from new I imagine it to be. Maybe I'm in denial or haven't read the right parenting books, but I can not imagine what is so shocking about a group of friends having a drink while their kids play. What am I missing here?

Yes, the story includes stories of serious drinkers -- women with alcohol problems who drank because of isolation and boredom (sounds just like The Women's Room, doesn't it?), and another who drank so much during an afternoon playgroup that she passed out with the babysitter and her seven-year-old locked outside the house. But beyond those with alcohol problems, what is the harm in this situation? Is it the simple idea that there might be more to a woman's life than her kids?

As I re-read the story, it seems that the judgment comes in the fact that this drinking is taking place in the afternoon, ie, not at proper cocktail hour. At least I think that's what the problem is. Because as Melissa Summers, the blogger who's mentioned in the piece, notes, there are all kinds of environments in which parents are having a drink while their kids gambol about (umm, has anyone heard of restaurants?).

More importantly, though, there is an awfully big difference between having a drink with friends and getting shitfaced. And I'm not sure that's a distinction this reporter made clear enough.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this one...