The other day I was filling out a form at the GP when I was asked "how many drinking days a week do you have?" I wrote 3.
Then, when asked "how many standard drinks do you have per drinking day?" I wrote 1-4 and my husband glanced at my form, laughed and said very loudly in front of the receptionist "that's an outright lie". I shrugged at her innocently when he wasn't looking, but he was right it was a lie. But why did I lie?
It's a "trending topic" at the moment and you see the headlines everywhere: "Alcohol Consumption Rising Among Mothers", "Why Are More Women Drinking?" or my personal favourite "Wine Swilling Mums Reveal Dark Side of Boozy Playdates" — so relatable.
I can see why it's happening. People who can't relate blame pop culture movies like Bad Moms or Etsy craft businesses with slogans like "I so need a glass of wine or I'm going to sell the kids".
But I think they are merely a reflection not the cause. I also think women and Mums have been drinking since the 1950s Valley of the Dolls (how good would a "bex and a lie down" be every day?) But nowadays we publicly share our private lives on social media and insta story our booze consumption for the world to see so it's getting talked about. The movies and the slogan merch just normalise it.
We are expected to be earth mothers who look like they never previously housed humans in their wombs, diarise the incumbent 40,000 emails from school each week remembering which days they have to wear a different shade of maroon (sports uniform) or when to have $2 for a cupcake stall, somehow smuggle nutrition into fussy children who don't eat, all the while having clean clothes, a somewhat tidy house and at the end of all this be a sexual deviant in the bedroom.
Plus now, as well as still carrying the bulk of the running of the home — and yes even with a very helpful partner we still captain that ship — according to the recent census nearly 60 per cent are also working outside the home.
While at work we are meant to pretend like we don't have kids and that it won't impact our jobs so we spend hours at night catching up on emails to make up for the fact we left "early" (5pm) to get the kids from care from two to three different pick-up locations — can you blame us for turning to wine?
For me on a not-so-great day, in between kids throwing their dinner on the ground in repulsion of the meal I've carefully crafted ways of making vegetables invisible, refusing to get in the bath/refusing to get out of the bath and screaming/dobbing/punching/threatening to "dead you", a glass or two of red really soothes those harrowing hours that kick off from about 5pm.
It takes the edge off. It gives me more patience to deal with the fighting/refusing to eat anything not fried that resembles a nugget/tipping out every bucket of Lego all over the house and the overall chaos. If I'm being honest the days where that is happening and I also have work and or relationship stress that one or two can easily turn into three or four.
Then there's the social aspect. Friday afternoon and early evenings I get together with school and other local mums, and we have a few drinks at the park. Sometimes we go to each other's houses, the kids all run around playing and living their best lives while we live ours and solve the problems of the world (our marriages) over a few champs and a nibble of cheese.
It's our therapy, our social lives, our fun. So why is it being buzz word coined "a problem"? And when is it actually a problem?
When I got home from the doctor I started to google and it got me a bit worried. According to health guidelines if you have partaken in "binge drinking" (four or more standard drinks in one occasion) five or more days in a month you are considered having "heavy alcohol use".
I started to think about the last month … four standard drinks is about three glasses of my beloved champs. Yikes. On a Friday night I could easily have a bottle of champs to myself which is over seven standard drinks. So I am a binge drinking heavy alcohol user? But that sounds ridiculous! Or does it?
We have our own buzzword my friends and I use the day after a night of too many drinks: "PIBS" (Post Inebriation Blues) or in a text you would say "I'm PIB-ing".
I went to an event recently that had FREE champagne. I was like an unsupervised kid at a kid's party that had never been allowed sugar before.
You see I think the fact mums in particular get so over-excited about being out of the house is because most of us had a good few years where we barely got to go out drinking so when we do now it kind of turns us into a rampaging teenager.
When I got home from the free champagne event I abused my husband for not cleaning out a lunch box and several other things that didn't make sense and ate some pasta in bed (so I have been told). I don't remember any of it. Let's just say I was totes PIB-ing the next day.
So I guess I do need to reassess my wine swilling lifestyle. By writing this and being honest about my 'heavy' alcohol consumption, I'm being accountable. I'm going to turn my (lying to the GP) drinking days of three days a week into a reality.
So that's four AFD's (alcohol free days) a week.
For the next month I'm going to keep a weekly tally of my real (non-made up in front of the GP receptionist) standard drink intake and then go over it with my psychologist and get my drinking back into a healthy range where I am not considered a regular "binge drinking heavy alcohol user" (still PIB-ing about this label).
I'm not doing it because of the buzzword hype around wine-guzzling mums and drinking, or because bolognese is really hard to wash out of your sheets, but because the latest research says that drinking more than 10 standard drinks a week regularly (besides quadrupling your chance of getting so many different types of cancers) can reduce your life considerably (by years).
I want to be around my kids (who drive me nuts, but who I love more than anything in the universe) as long as possible and in many years to come see my grandkids send my kids nuts.
So here's to a life with less PIB-ing …
Annaliese Dent is a mum of two love gods and one half of The Queen Sesh with Constance Hall and Annaliese. You can hear her Sunday nights across The Hit Network. You can follow Annaliese on Facebook and Instagram. This article was first published on news.com.au.