Between runs to soccer and ballet classes, fund-raisers and homework projects, some stay-at-home mothers are sipping cocktails at afternoon spa parties, drinking bloody marys at play groups and toting wine and wine coolers to parks and friends' decks while their children frolic nearby. These mothers are looking for a small break from the conventions of mommy-hood -'" a way to hold on to a part of their lives that existed before they had children and to bond over a shared disdain for the almost sadistically stressful world of modern parenting.
Suniya S. Luthar, a psychology professor at Teachers College, Columbia University and mother of two, said her research has shown that alcohol and drug use is up among relatively affluent mothers. And there seems to be a reason. "We are in a position right now where women can feel incredibly disconnected and lonely," Dr. Luthar said, explaining that the apparent self-medicating she has found in interviews with clinicians and private practitioners and in an online survey could be a dangerous trend.
Dr. Luthar, the psychologist, conceded that drinking together does beat drinking alone, particularly if the women in their groups can "achieve that sense of connectedness, with feelings of being seen, being heard, and of being understood." Others, though, see alcohol as a risky way to connect. While many of the mothers who defended cocktail play dates claimed that having children underfoot promoted greater restraint, most probably would not tolerate it from hired caregivers.
This article appeared in the November 9, 2006 edition of the New York Times.