Why do moms in my generation regress, whether by drugging, cheating, or going out too late and too often? Because everything our children thrive on—stability, routine, lack of flux, love, well-paired parents—feels like death to those entrusted with their care. This is why they start drinking at wine o’clock, which is so dubbed not only because it coincides with whine o’clock but because it can begin at six p.m., or five, or even four. (Though the four o’clock mothers wind up in A.A.) I know a mom who drinks only on the weekends because she thinks it’s more responsible… but she starts with a mimosa at brunch on Saturday at eleven, and doesn’t stop until her Sunday night television shows are over.
As the children age (and multiply), the moms are burdened by the responsibility—to work, hold onto their homes, watch over their kids’ social and academic lives. The boredom turns to terror. You can almost clock the moment it begins, past preschool but before kindergarten. The childbearing is over, the breastfeeding in the past, the sling donated to Housing Works. It’s the moment when a mom dresses as a Harajuku girl for Halloween, or there’s a full bar at a four-year-old’s birthday party, or two ladies step out of book group to smoke on the stoop. It’s blowjob gestures at cocktail parties followed by a-little-too hysterical laughter. It’s the mother who says, “Mommy needs an Advil because she stayed up too late last night.” It’s fortieth birthday parties at karaoke bars.
In the new version of rebellion, the men are supportive. “Go have fun!” says the husband to the wife trekking out to meet the gals. Moms in my circle go out much more often than the dads, who are too tired, too anti-social, or just want to stay home smoking pot. (Fortysomething parents frequently go out stag because someone is always at home watching the kids. This allows them to act if not quite single then single-ish.) The same Facebook moms who use kid photos as their profile pics post galleries of their binge drinking. Is the behavior really amoral? No. Does it cross a line? Rarely. But there is a wild, life-craving, narcissistic, oblivious madness to it that reminds me of Don Draper and pals in the mid-sixties. These women are the men their mothers divorced.
This is fucking depressing.