Some parents (me) like to joke about using alcohol to get through “hell” hour — that time before dinner when both kids and adults (me) often are hungry and cranky. I also often refer to “mommy’s little equilibrium enhancer — aka beer.”
And I write a regular column for Mountain Xpress about beer. So, there’s no doubt I’m a mother who likes to quaff an alcoholic beverage or two.
I’ve noticed there have been a number of stories in the national news lately about moms getting DUIs — with their kids in the vehicles. One mom in California flipped her car and then ran, leaving her 4-year-old behind. Turns out she’d left two other kids at home alone (both under the age of 4). That was an extreme case, but most of us have driven our kids somewhere after having a drink — assuming that our reflexes are intact. As a result of these national mommy DUIs, both The New York Times and The Washington Post have featured stories about moms overindulging in adult beverages — “cocktail moms,” as they’ve been called.
The Post story cites a study by The Century Council that says the number of women arrested for impaired driving jumped 29 percent in the last decade. The “average” female arrestee is in her 30s and fairly well educated. And the study doesn’t say this, but logic follows that many of these women are mothers. In other words, women just like me and many of my friends (ok, I’m in my 40s, but close enough).
Unlike many of our moms, those of us who’ve birthed babies in the past 20 or more years were told not to imbibe during pregnancy or while breastfeeding, and most of us, having heard of the ravages of fetal alcohol syndrome, followed doctor’s orders.
I did drink the occasional low-alcohol beer while I was nursing, but only after a doctor told me that as long as I only drank one beer in an hour (and only a couple at most), the amount of alcohol that would enter by breast milk would be miniscule. No binging, for sure.
That said, once the kids are weaned (and, in my case, they were kids), there’s not much sense in not drinking — but drinking and driving? Especially with kids in tow?
Sure, everyone has her desperate moments. But every time I’ve been in a car accident (or any kind of accident), I realize what a hair-thin line there is between life and death or serious damage. Plus, car accidents are the leading cause of accidental death for children. It’s just not worth the risk.
Alcohol-impaired drivers were involved in 1 in 3 fatal crashes in 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control. While there’s been a bit of a decrease in the number of traffic fatalities on U.S. roads since 2005 (down to just more than 32,000 in 2010 from more than 43,000 in ‘05), there are still a significant number of folks who die in cars (that’s about 90 people a day — and some 30 of those are alcohol-related). If that many people died any other way on a regular daily basis — say in airplane crashes or terrorist attacks — we’d all be freaking the hell out. But we love our death mobiles.
Part of the reason the number of deaths has decreased is because of decreasing tolerance for drunken driving — but still that’s more than 11,000 dead in 2010 from the mix of motor vehicles and cocktails. While I disagree with over-governance in many cases, I think that there’s some good to be had for intolerance for tolerance.
I’m all for a beer or two during hell hour or just because it’s a nice afternoon. But I’ve decided not to beer and operate dangerous equipment, and never if my kids are along for the ride. There’s so much in my life and my kids’ lives that I have no control over, but this, I do.