#180 – Episode 180 – The Gas Lighting of Mothers with Celeste Yvonne


Celeste Yvonne is a writer and sober mother who used to write cute ‘mommy needs wine’ memes and blogs. One day she realized she couldn’t parent and drink alcohol so reluctantly she quit. Now she is taking on the ‘mommy needs wine’ trend.

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about this episode

Mummy needs wine culture and the gaslighting of mothers is a subject you’ve heard me speak a lot about. In the last 5 or so years, it’s become totally mainstream and it’s bound to pop up in almost any parenting community or social media space that you can find.

When Celeste Yvonne had her first child she was excited to finally be on the inside of these jokes. She was immersed in the culture, even writing posts and sharing her own Mummy needs wine memes. Eventually, reality hit and she came to terms with the fact that this was just another excuse for unhealthy drinking behavior and now she’s on the other side.

In today’s episode, she shares her story.

About Celeste Yvonne

Celeste Yvonne is a popular writer and personality who writes about all things parenting. Last year her “Dear Husband” post went viral to tens of millions of readers around the world. Celeste shared her frustrations with the workload for moms and the pressure women face to run the household, even as many of us return to work. Celeste’s writing resonates with mothers everywhere, and she speaks with candor and honesty which is unusual in this world of filters.

In 2018, Celeste openly spoke about her struggles with alcohol and announced her commitment to becoming a sober mom for the sake of her health and her family. Her piece about a playdate that went sideways when another mom started serving mimosas has reached over 14 million people. Celeste lives in Reno, Nevada with her husband and two boys.

key highlights

We’re all doing it

“I was eager to be in on the joke.” – Celeste Yvonne

When Celeste had her first child she became fascinated with the mummy wine trend.

As a blogger she became a perpetrator herself, writing jokes and memes about needing chocolate and wine to survive parenting. At the end of the day, it made her feel better about the fact that she was using alcohol to cope by turning it from harmful to humorous.


Buying into the marketing

“I wanted that to be part of my parenting experience.” – Celeste Yvonne

Celeste’s fascination started before she was a parent

Looking back, she feels like she always had a toxic relationship with alcohol and mummy needs wine culture sounded like a fun excuse to drink.

She didn’t yet know what parenthood would entail but she wanted to be a part of it. She wanted to be a mom but she also wanted what she saw as the fun side: drinking wine with girlfriends as the kids run around the backyard or reaching for a glass of wine at the end of the day like it’s a breath of fresh air.


Hangover struggles

“I feel like you can only go through so many painful hangovers in early motherhood before you have to make a decision. Am I going to continue to pass off the parenting experience to others or am I going to try to drink less?” – Celeste Yvonne

Very quickly Celeste learned that hangovers and parenting do not mix well.

When you have a baby, you can’t take a break and sleep off a hangover. You can’t call in sick to motherhood.

At first, in an effort to see if there was a way to stop feeling so miserable, Celeste tried to drink less.

It didn’t work.

The hard realization she came to was that it had to be a full stop. She wouldn’t be able to moderate.


The grief

“Parenting is very, very hard and you’re dealing with a person who has depression. Then on top of that, you’re forced to give up alcohol which you believe is this amazing thing that everyone else drinks with no problem whatsoever. That sucks beyond anything.” – Veronica Valli

The decision to stop drinking was a painful one for Celeste.

She felt like she was committing herself to a lifetime of deprivation as punishment for not being able to drink like a “normal” person.

She also felt like she had no choice. Even though she thought she wouldn’t gain anything, she knew that if she didn’t get sober she would lose everything.

Her family and friends didn’t understand and she had no support for her choice.

It felt like everything was working against her and she had to prove to herself and everyone around her that she was making the right choice for herself and her family.


A new perspective

“I’m going to be loud and proud. This is the life I want.” – Celeste Yvonne

About a year into sobriety Celeste realized that this wasn’t an experiment. It was the right path for her.

It was such a turning point for her.

She started opening up about her sobriety, sharing publicly, and writing about it.


The cultural impact

There’s a massive amount of white privilege embedded in the mummy drinking wine.

While white, white, middle-class moms can have mom drinking festivals and it’s all received as humorous and a fun time, the same behavior is wielded as a weapon against women of color.

They don’t have the option of playing at being bad moms and joking around in that way.

The system simply does not give them the benefit of the doubt as it does for white women.


Looking to the future

There’s also a long history of anesthetizing mothers.

Back in the 60s, valium was marketed as a mother’s little helper. Now, it’s wine.

Women are under pressure to have a great career, be great mothers and wives, and stay gorgeous and fit, all with a smile.

But the truth is that for the average woman, we can’t have it all because nobody’s providing affordable childcare or adequate support for mothers from parental leave and onward.

It’s no wonder we all feel like we’re losing our minds.

The mummy needs wine message distracts us from this much more important call to action.

We need support, we need more equity, and we need to be better served in the workplace.

If your relationship with alcohol is appropriate, there’s nothing wrong with a mum having a glass of wine.

It’s the messaging and gaslighting of mothers that’s a problem and that’s why being public and vocal about this is so important.

resources mentioned

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