Move over, wine o’clock. For an increasing number of women I know, there’s a new “mother’s helper” to assist during that final hour before the kids’ bedtime, that extended visit from the in-laws or – just to give a hypothetical – a global pandemic combined with raging political turmoil. Say hello to CBD. You two might get very friendly.
Formally known as cannabidiol, a chemical found in marijuana but lacking the psychoactive ingredient that produces a high, CBD is most commonly sold as an oil. Often the products make vague promises of being “therapeutic” or “balancing” and have names like “Chill.” But it’s not all touchy-feely; CBD has been FDA approved to treat two forms of epilepsy, and it’s currently being studied for its effects on a number of conditions including Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and – particularly relevant to me and many of my mom friends – anxiety.
Research supporting the benefits of CBD is still limited, but anecdotally, I can report that my girlfriends who use it swear by it. One friend described it as great for taking the edge off, without the calories or the hangover of a glass of wine. (The fact that we’re at an age where a glass of wine could possibly produce a hangover is a depressing topic for another time.) CBD doesn’t make your daily life calmer; it just helps make you calmer as you navigate it.
If that’s truly the case, you’d think the CBD users in my circle would be posting enthusiastic memes on Instagram and distributing flyers in the school parking lot at drop-off. Instead, this trend seems to be gaining momentum largely under the radar for now, even for those of us who live in California, where even recreational marijuana is legal. When people do talk about it, they are quick to make sure the rest of us understand the distinction between CBD and weed, as though we’re picturing them lighting up joints during their toddler’s bathtime.
In my mind, this ties into a larger issue of moms feeling compelled to hide or justify the fact that they need some relief from the pressures and demands of motherhood. I’ve seen the same defensive behavior from non-working moms who employ a nanny; from working moms who head from the office to a social event without seeing their child in between; or from moms who hire a sitter so they can go to “an appointment” that is actually yoga.
I have been there myself, feeling guilty about needing more help or time to unwind. Then I snap out of it and remember that there’s no Mother of the Year Award given to the woman who rejects all forms of assistance and puts herself last all the time. What are we trying to prove, and how many other moms are we hurting by perpetuating these myths of total mastery and self-sufficiency?
When it comes to CBD, maybe it’s poised to be the greatest gift to frazzled moms since caffeine. Or maybe what my friends are experiencing is all in their heads. Either way, if it’s safe and it works for you, why not have at it? A mom who feels more “Chill” at the end of a long day is a mom who will be a lot better equipped to tackle it all again tomorrow.
Note: The FDA recently updated its CBD regulations to express support for further research on its benefits, safety and use. If you are taking any supplements or prescription medications, you should check with your doctor about possible adverse interactions with CBD before trying it.