Pubdate: Sun, 11 Nov 2007
Source: Sunday Times (UK)
Copyright: 2007 Times Newspapers Ltd.
Author: Fern Gilmour
Note: The author's name has been changed
Bookmark: (Cannabis - United Kingdom)
Bookmark: (Cocaine)


Middle-class drug-taking doesn't stop with parenthood - in fact, among
my friends it's rife. But it ain't pretty

Fern Gilmour We'd all finished dinner, and we kicked off our shoes and
watched as our host showed off his new Technics turntables, a present
from his wife. It was his 40th-birthday party, and a group of us had
come to stay at his house in Devon. One mum went upstairs to check all
the children were asleep. Including my three-year-old, there were 10
children staying, aged from six months to five years. No sooner had we
been given the all-clear than two of the five dads got out wraps of
cocaine and began chopping out lines on the table. Are we a group of
rock stars, DJs and supermodels? No, we're City bankers, lawyers,
housewives, entrepreneurs: professional urbanites doing what many
parents do on a fairly regular basis.

Sounds shocking, doesn't it? Parents doing drugs; kids upstairs,
(hopefully) asleep. But a painfully honest new book, Mommies Who
Drink, written by the American comedienne Brett Paesel, throws a sharp
light on what the hedonism generation do once they have children. As
Paesel says: "I rebelled against what seemed like a group-think about
what mommies should be: dull, doughy, desexualised and almost
pathologically interested in children. What I really wanted [after the
birth of my son] was a stranger to screw me in a parking lot after
loading me up on margaritas and Thai stick."

Parents and drugs are one of society's last taboos, as evidenced by
the outcry when Kate Moss was apparently caught sniffing white powder.
For many, it was the fact that she was a mum that caused the most
outrage. But for my group of thirtysomething middle-class mums, hard
drugs always have been, and probably always will be, a part of life.
Our group is not on the fringe of society. We're an entire
demographic. Ours is the generation that went raving every single
weekend in the 1990s. It didn't stop us from getting good degrees and
jobs - we would spend most Sundays sleeping off the party in a field,
but by Monday morning we'd be back in our Armani, climbing the career
ladder with everyone else. Ten years on, taking drugs maybe once a
month and being a great mother don't seem mutually exclusive concepts.
Besides, isn't the ideal 21st-century mum supposed to be excellent at

We may not go to warehouse raves any more - most of our drug
consumption happens at dinner parties and weekends in the country -
but in the summer, we venture out. You may have spotted us at
festivals such as Glastonbury or Bestival (where they even have a
breast-feeding tent: Breastival). Some leave children behind with the
granny or the nanny; others take their offspring along for the ride,
sneaking off as soon as the kids are asleep.

Ibiza isn't ruled out just because you have children, either. I know
of one wealthy couple who rent two flats for a month in the summer -
one for themselves, the other for the nanny and their four-year-old -
so they can party in peace.

We don't set out to be irresponsible. The official arrangement between
most couples I know is that only one parent is allowed to get wasted
at a time. But drugs are hardly conducive to a sense of fair play.
What often happens is that, when it's Mum's turn, Dad has a few secret
lines anyway, hoping she'll be too out of it to notice or care. She'll
find out eventually, and when it's Dad's turn, Mum has one or two
"grudge lines" to get her own back.

Still, even though drug-taking is acceptable in my close circle of
friends, there have been instances that have shocked me. I remember
going to a hen party the very night I'd stopped breast-feeding. I
hadn't touched any drugs for almost 18 months. I can't say I missed
them, but I can't say I wasn't looking forward to having some again.
One mother among the giggling gang, an intellectual-property lawyer,
had an eight-week-old baby. I was surprised to see her there at all
and fully expected her to slip home in time for the 11pm feed. "It's
such a pain when you're breast-feeding, isn't it?" she told me at
about 3am. "I'll have to express my milk all day tomorrow and chuck it
down the sink." So dedicated was she to cocaine that she had pumped a
day's worth of breast milk out of her body in preparation for her big
night out. The thought that she would be nursing her tiny baby two
days after taking class-A drugs made me recoil. How could she possibly
know that it was safe? It's hardly something you can check with the

None of us acknowledges the double standards we employ in raising our
children. We feed them organic carrots, give them wooden educational
toys and fight to get them into the best schools. We tell ourselves
that we make every sacrifice possible.

Last New Year's Eve, I was with a group of families in a hired house
in Scotland. Not long after midnight, I looked down to see a thick
white stripe across a shiny surface. At the end of the powdery track
was someone's baby monitor. The seediness of the image made me feel a
bit sick. New Year's Day was a write-off. Couples were sniping at one
another, and our children were handed chocolate and crisps to keep
them quiet while we nursed our frayed nerves - smoothing out the edges
with more alcohol and cannabis. Was this really the way for my family
to see in the New Year? Twelve hours earlier, it had felt as if we
were having it all.
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