Why Moms Say, “I Need Wine!” (Hint: It’s Not Actually About The Wine)

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I need wine!

These are the exact words I texted my mom friend on a cold and dreary Tuesday evening.

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I’m sure you have lots of wine at your house, she instantly texted me back. I could almost hear the matter-of-fact manner in which she wrote those words to me.

It’s true, I did have wine in my house, coincidentally, in the kitchen cabinet I was standing in front of. My husband is Italian and makes homemade wine every year so our house is never without it. I’ve actually become the envy of the wine-loving mamas in my neighborhood.

So why wasn’t I rushing to grab that bottle of vino I had in my house? After all, we live in a culture in which the phrase “wine-mom” is part of our vernacular, so it wouldn’t be that surprising if I did. In fact, it would be expected.

Why then didn’t I go the typical route that many of us usually go when frazzled? Why was I instead, texting those words to a friend?

Because believe it or not, it wasn’t the wine that I truly needed.

It was the connection with a friend, another human being, another mom, who could empathize with me that I needed in that moment.

But I’m not the kind of mom who reveals all that in a text. I’m the mom who. . .

~won’t say the words “I’m having a bad day,” but will instead say, “I need wine!”
~won’t mention that “I just had a huge fight with my husband,” but will instead say, “I need wine!”
~won’t say “the kids are stressing me out,” but will instead say, “I need wine!”
~won’t scream in exasperation “I can’t take anymore of this!” but will instead say, “I need wine!”

Notice the pattern?

two women standing over kitchen counter smiling and talking

As an introverted mom, I do not reveal what is going on in my world. Unless there is something I really need to talk about, I usually do not talk with anyone about the details of my life.

I don’t initiate phone calls or texts to talk about the day I’m having.

I prefer to process things on my own. If a mom friend asks a question, I’ll answer, but I rarely offer information voluntarily. Usually, my mom friends find out how I feel after-the-fact from articles I write — like this one.

Even when I’m asked “How are you?” I usually respond with “I’m fine.” And yes, even on days I’m feeling less than fine, I say, “I’m fine” and then turn around and ask that friend the same question. Deflection, I know.

I’m sure every extroverted mom has at least one introverted friend in their social circle who does this.

The thing is, as much as we are advised and encouraged to talk about what’s going on inside us, to share our feelings with others, and to not bottle everything up inside, not everyone is comfortable doing this.

Some people — typically introverts like myself — are just more comfortable processing things internally.

This also means that those closest to me — except for my husband — have zero clue what’s going on with me. I realize this can be frustrating for those who truly care about me, which is why I came up with this phrase.

I need wine lets my inner circle know that (a) I am still alive, and (b) I’m feeling a little — okay, a lot — vexed right now.

Life is throwing me curve balls and I am not hitting em’ out of the park.

Of course, I need wine doesn’t work all the time. There are some people who will just not accept I need wine as an opening and ending to a conversation. They need to know what made me say that, and more importantly, am I okay?

My very intuitive mother-in-law, best friend, and even husband (if he’s in the mood for a long conversation) sometimes fall into this category. And that’s totally fine. Sometimes those three words warrant a longer conversation and if I’m up to it, I’ll talk.

There are those times when I need to talk to someone about things I’m struggling with. In these instances, I need wine doesn’t cut it for me either and I seek out a trusted soul to confide in. Commence the 2-hour conversation.

So, listen to the “code words” of the mom friends in your life.

Not everyone shares what’s going on in their life, not all the time. But they may give you clues that something is amiss with certain words or phrases they use when they talk to you.

And although they are not opening up to you at this very moment, they will when the time is right. Just be patient and be that trusting soul they can confide in.

P.S. Oh, for those of you wondering if I actually have a glass of wine whenever I say I need wine? Well, yes, sometimes I do. After all, I do have an unlimited supply at my disposal.

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