Cocktail Playdates

Melissa, over at Suburban Bliss, appeared on The Today Show recently to discuss a growing trend among some mothers called “Cocktail Playdates”. Here’s the skinny: the kid gets his or her juice box, the mother a glass of chardonnay. (MmmmmmMmmmmm, wine.)

I live in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I see mothers and their children (or babies toddlers) out all the time with other mothers. They often meet at bars. Sometimes they knit and talk and sip wine. Sometimes they just talk and sip wine. Sometimes they order cheese as well. (Cheese!) It happens. And to be perfectly honest, I like that it happens. I used to watch them and wonder when or if I’d ever be in their situation, a mother and a person at the same time. So, you better believe that when I’m done giving birth to this little bean, I will join them. Will I get drunk? No. Will I be driving? Nope. Will I have a glass of wine with my girlfriends? Absolutely. (Of course, I have to find the girlfriends first. Right now, it’s more like girlfriend. Hi, Missy!)

Well, as it were, other mothers don’t think this is such a wise idea. I didn’t catch the show when it actually aired but I did just watch it online. You can, too. I’m not at all surprised at the outcome. Of course a major media outlet is going to spin such a story. They know how the blog world works, how mothers can be. They know how to get more traffic to their Web site(s). They know how to play the game. What bugs me the most about the situation isn’t the whole “Butter Battle Book” phenomenon, it’s that they used their media outlet to feed a fire that surrounds a group of people who already spend too much time at one another’s throats.

In the end, and perhaps it’s because I’m not quite a mommy yet, it’s hard for me to get worked up over a woman having a glass of wine in front of her kids especially since I live in a city where some people beat their children to death. Perhaps life is different in the suburbs. I don’t know.


  1. Hi there,

    I haven’t seen the video but a drink around kids, absolutely!!!!

    Every Thursday I meet my girlfriends at the club pool for week wrap up. Kids get pizza and soda (the only soda of the week), and we moms get wine, or whatever else we want. The kids all play together and burn off steam and so do we. We all look forward to this weekly playdate and it is growing in numbers.

    Am I an alcoholic or a negligent mother? No but I am human and need down time and the company of friends. Also, i think it is important foe kids to see adults drinking responsibly. Telling kids that it is bad to drink doesn’t help them in the long run in my opinion.


    Ps congrats on mini bean. I have to admit I figured it out a while ago. You have same pregnancy symtoms as me. I have had great pregnancies, so I am sure you will too!


  2. The video is of Melissa (who is for it), another woman (who is against it) and the host (who doesn’t state pro or con but is clearly not into the idea). It’s kind of harsh. I honestly don’t understand the big deal with it. As long as no on is driving anywhere, who cares? As long as it’s not like something out of a Rick Moody novel, I don’t see the harm. But I’m probably going to be the worst mother ever. ;]

    Regarding the pregnancy: you’re a keen one. I think there were a few others who had me figured out as well. (PitGirl, too. She actually called me on it – on here!) Side note: I got that book you suggested! Thank you. Haven’t started it yet, tho.

    I do hope that this gets easire, because night times have been awful, truly awful as of late.


  3. I was actually going to call you on it a few times. I typed in this box and then decided not to send it.

    I felt sick at night with Lucie too. I can’t think of anything I did to feel better. I craved o.j.. I didn’t know why I felt sick though.

    It took me 16 weeks to figure out I was pregant with first one.  I'd actually have to wake up and move my boobs over to roll over in my sleep.  Finally my husband told me he thought I was pregnant.  D'oh.

    That’s what you get for Moroccan birth control.



  4. Good for you, Michele. If there is one thing that drives me up the freaking wall more than just about anything else, it is those judgmental, puritanical types.

    I am not even near having to make any of these decisions for myself, but you can bet I’d never dream of criticizing someone else for their parenting decisions as long as they aren’t harmful to the child.

    Also, Meghan, I am totally with you about showing kids from an early age how to drink responsibly. I grew up that way and you can bet I would want to do the same for any kid(s) Mike and I may have. I really think that taking away the “forbidden” aspect of drink is important – I got a glass of wine with holiday dinners growing up, or an occasional beer with my dad, and my mom and I had a long-standing tradition of sharing a kahlua & ice cream blender drink on New Year’s Eve while we watched the ball drop, and I think those things were all big reasons why I never once felt like I had to sneak around behind their backs and get drunk at some party or something.

    FYI, there was an interesting piece in the Times recently about women who choose to drink moderately during their pregnancies:


  5. Awesome article, Jen. I just read it now. Thank you for that.

    It’s funny, I tend to agree, which is to say that I think it’s perfectly safe to have a few drinks here and there while pregnant, but I am such a freaking worrywart and I still haven’t shaken the Catholic guilt that if my child came out with even the slightest problem (learning disability, problem reading, speaking, whatever) I would blame myself and those few drinks I totally didn’t need to have. That’s not to say I would ever tell someone that they shouldn’t have a glass of wine if they want to while pregnant. I mean, hell, all of Europe seems to be doing just fine. But, for me, I guess I just don’t want to take any risks at all.

    It’s a good thing that this first trimester has been so rough. I haven’t wanted to go near the stuff in 3 months. The smell turns my tummy (unless it’s dark beer. I freaking love the smell of dark beer right now.) Otherwise, no way I could get it down. Weird how that happens.

    Thanks for sending that. Truly great piece.


  6. There’s a big difference between “having a drink” and “getting drunk”.

    It takes me 2-3 alcoholic drinks for my judgement to be impaired the slighest (which is good as i can drink a lot of wine without feeling / getting drunk , but if i’m trying to drink as a stress reliever its pricey ). Yay/Boo genetics.

    That said, I don’t see a problem with anyone having a drink or two around children IF i their metabolism is similar. there’s a big difference between drinking something that could get you intoxicated and actually being intoxicated. If someone has a drink, so what? That doesn’t mean that they will be drunk or their thinking will be impaired.


  7. Jen,

    I just read your blog. I am in Edmonton right now!


    I drank a few wines while pregnant with Anthony. We were in Rome and that sparkling white just called out to me….anyway, Anth now has speech delay and I think about those wines. The doc has assured me that it is in no way connected but I too am a catholic worry wart.

    When pregnant I’d say treat your body like a temple. And make damn sure that Toby joe rubs your feet with peppermint foot lotion every night.

    People everywhere will consider your body their right to comment on while you are pregnant. It will really piss you off.



  8. OOPS I read jen and tonics blog. sorry jen. I will read yours right now.



  9. First of all – your zip is 11222. That’s Greenpoint beeyotch. Just because Williamsburg is the new family hood and the ‘Point (I can’t believe people call it that) is the new hipster joint doesn’t mean you’ve switched because of having this kid.

    Second – I was going to talk about kids ruining the environment of pubs and bars, but I’m already too annoyed.

    Down with hipsters and kids!


  10. I didn’t watch the video but I can think of a couple of reasons why people might be upset. I guess it really depends on the ages of the children. Since my daughter is 4 months, I’m thinking in terms of her age.

    One, if you’re drinking around your kids and socializing with adults that means you’re not paying attention to them. If they were on a playdate with other kids that would be different, but if the babies were just parked in their strollers…maybe not so great if it happened every day.

    The other thing is breastfeeding. You’re really not supposed to drink while breastfeeding. An occasional drink is OK but it is not recommended to drink every day. (And for the record, there is no scientific evidence that beer boosts milk production.) When you do drink, you are supposed to wait about 2 hours before feeding again. So if these women are breastfeeding then maybe the other mothers are upset about that.

    Also, I live in Europe, and it is not that liberal here when it comes to drinking. None of my doctors – all Spanish – approved of it. When I was pregnant, I think I had a little wine on my birthday and maybe one other occasion and that was it. If I went out with others who were drinking, I would tend to drink non-alcoholic beer.


  11. Seems like drinking and hanging out with kids in tow is perfectly acceptable. I don’t really like to drink myself, but I wouldn’t mind socializing with other mothers who are having a glass or two. I didn’t watch the video, but as long as the kids are old enough to actually play and not be stuck in a stroller then it’s not a big deal.

    There are only a couple of things that might concern me which is breastfeeding and the place to do it. Breastfeeding after drinking alcohol would concern me, even after a couple hours. I would never take my kids to a bar either, it’s just not a kid place. A park or a backyard barbecue is perfectly fine.

    There are places in the U.S. where drinking is never seen as responsible. Some people are just way too uptight about self-imposed social rules, boundaries and labels. Some people just get off on imposing their values on others instead of just being the change they seek.


  12. Now, now, the video didn’t say anything about drinking booze and breastfeeding. Nor did I. I’m not sure how that snuck in here. Is it because I used the word “baby”? I meant toddler. Most of the ladies I see out having a cocktail are with toddlers and/or kids.


  13. Also, I would be perfectly comfortable taking my son or daughter to most of the bars in Williamsburg and Greenpoint. Not all, no way, but most. Most of them are backyard type places. All of them are smoke free and most of them serve food or cheese or light snacks. None of them are loud, well, none of the bars I have seen this sort of thing. Perhaps it’s just overrun here with kids and babies, but it’s very common to see little guys at local bars here.


  14. You don’t need to ask me twice.

    However, if you end up having a girl and you put one of those stupid elastic headbands on her baby head, I’ll kick your ass.

    Also: Happy birthday tomorrow! 33 was a good year for me; it’ll be even better for you.


  15. I guess the bars in my hood are not as baby friendly as your local hangouts. I wouldn’t take my kids to any of the ones here. They are smoke free, but most get pretty loud, are too dark and not so clean. Just not places I envision taking a wee one for playtime. There are tons of kids in my neighborhood too, but they mostly come out for weekend brunch. I don’t recall seeing any babies in bars. I’d like to see other parents’ expressions if you brown bagged a tall boy and went to the playground!


  16. Ugh, god, I saw that horrible piece on Today. What is wrong with mothers? What is wrong with women? Why do we feel this need to pick pick pick at each other? And why did they even have Melissa on there if they were just going to act like she wasn’t there? So stupid.


  17. I guess it was the word “babies” for me that conjured up breastfeeding.

    Drinking in front of your kids seems like a non-issue, as long as it’s done responsibly. What is more of an issue for me is taking them to bars. A place that has a backyard café or terrace isn’t really a bar in my mind. If it’s a place with tables and food then the kids are probably going to consider it a restaurant anyway.

    I do think, though, that having kids means that your life has changed, and it’s simply not possible to fit your kids into your old lifestyle. Which doesn’t mean you have to give it up. Just that it will be severely modified.

    Anyway, I remembered an article that appeared in NY Magazine last year about this very issue. It’s called “A Glass of Wine and a Pacifier, Please”. The subheading: “When every restaurant and coffee bar doubles as a playroom, is there such a thing as adult space anymore?” Here’s the link:


  18. It’s michele’s birthday and, in celebration, the baby and I are already sloshed.


  19. You know, why is this a big deal? Haven’t women been doing this forever? Have we become so politically correct we can’t just face the fact that there is simply nothing wrong with this?


  20. You know the one thing that scares me the most about this? And I have noticed it before but I never really let it bother me until recently since I am about to become a mom myself. It’s the fact that so many mothers are so freaking mean to other mothers. You don’t really see this in other groups of people, do you? Why are mothers so hateful? Why do they judge other mothers so quickly and with such scrutiny?

    I don’t wish to ever become a mother like that. If I ever start offering up advice where advice ins’t wanted, please kindly tell me to shut the crap up.


  21. I’ll come have a drink with you and your baby! We will not, however, subject your innocent child to Uno’s.


  22. I believe the term for vicious, judgemental mothers is “sanctimommies.”

    What I find so compelling about the sanctimommies, is that they can come from both the right and the left. When Kerry and I participated in our Bradley Method of husband-coached natural childbirth training, we attended a class with mostly hipster and bourgeois academic-types, but it was conducted by a fundamentalist Christian in a trailer in the middle of the Western New York wilderness between Rochester and Buffalo.


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