main line mommy d.u.i…..again


Looks like a happy scene right?  Folks enjoying a day of great cars in a beautiful setting and being snapped for the society pages of Main Line Today Magazine.  Yes, this is the Radnor Hunt Concour D’Elegance circa 2010.

And then this news breaks:

Wynnewood woman charged in DUI crash, child and dogs were also in the car

Published: Wednesday, November 13, 2013   By Richard Ilgenfritz

mug shotLower Merion police say a woman was driving intoxicated with her 2-year-old child and two dogs when she crashed her car into a utility pole in the Bryn Mawr section of the township Friday.

As a result, the woman is facing numerous charges in connection with the case.

Grace Tuten, 32, of the 1000 block of Clover Hill Road in Wynnewood is facing charges of DUI, endangering the welfare of a child, reckless endangering another person, driving under a suspension, careless driving and related offenses….At police headquarters, Tuten recorded a blood alcohol level of .28, or more than three times the legal limit of .08.

Tuten’s 2-year-old son was a passenger in the car at the time of the crash, shortly after 8 p.m. He was found inside his child seat in the rear of the vehicle. The child was taken to Bryn Mawr Hospital for a precautionary evaluation. Two dogs were also found in the rear cargo area of the car.

The media reports indicate she crashed into a utility pole around Williamson Road and Morris Avenue in Bryn Mawr and kept driving even after that, hitting a mailbox and stuff in addition.  CBS 3 reports she was driving on a suspended licenseGrace Tuten appears to be pending her preliminary hearing as per the court dockets.

This accident which could have killed her, her small child, and two dogs occurred I would guesstimate less than a mile from the August DUI of Meredith Williams Earle that killed a florist delivery man in Bryn Mawr.  Meredith Williams-Earle goes to county court it looks like in early 2014. Williams-Earle’s attorney was in the newspaper in September saying his client should get her license back.

Here we have another sad state of affairs and the commonality is kind of eerie.  Both Main Line born and bred women and products of fine private schools and good colleges. Both married. Both have small children. Tuten is 32 and Williams-Earle is 30.

What has gone wrong here?  How do families not know if someone is having issues? Do that many people really in this day and age routinely drive around comfortably numb?  Where was Tuten coming from? It was 8 p.m. on a Friday so where was she coming from or going to and where was her husband? And who exactly let her get behind the wheel of a car?  With a blood alcohol level of 0.28 was she visibly intoxicated?  Who lets a young mother get into a car with her child and two dogs?

To me this is an alarming issue.  And with two to hit the news a couple months apart , I truly see this as an issue. But if we are honest, by varying degrees this is not a new issue. It’s just not one discussed in public as much as whispered down the lane.

These women like Grace Tuten need help and they need our compassion. I said that when I wrote the post titled “deadly decision”. I see another young mom in crisis here.

Who is listening to these women?  I wonder if these women had postpartum or other depression?  Or are they simply experiencing pressures of being a modern Main Line mommy?

Since I have moved to Chester County I have even encountered some similar mommies, closer to my own age.  One woman  in the Giant a few weeks ago literally reeked of alcohol when she passed me with her cart.  A friend said I should have called the police, but where was my proof?  I did not see her drink. We live in such a litigious society that can it be considered a real Catch 22.

Alcoholism is an awful disease.  I have friends who have been “in the program” for years.  Including now not so young moms. Some have been successful working their programs, others not so much.

I have no idea what was going on with this woman Grace Tuten but I do believe the pressures they experience as young moms and wives in an affluent area are very real.  And as a little girl, I remember the moms who were my mother’s generation who tippled.  One in the mid 1970s called her popping pills with a cocktail chaser a “mommy’s pick-me-up”.

Grace Tuten lives in Wynnewood but was in the Bryn Mawr close to Gladwyne area with her child and her dogs, so she was somewhere she knew people really well perhaps? Or at a local restaurant?

I don’t know the motive, don’t know the woman but I feel for her because as a friend of mine said today who is a mom who had postpartum that  she believes mothers just don’t intentionally put their kids in harm’s way. So I am going to stick with that.

The path to parenthood is not necessarily an easy one.  I know many women who didn’t make easy transitions from working girl to SAHM (Stay At Home Mom) or did the whole motherhood and career thing easily.

I can tell you as a stepmother in training to an awesome now teenager, I have not had it all come easily.  The love is there, but here I am in my late 40s becoming a parent for the first time.  It is hard work to be a parent. And while I have enjoyed my transition from a woman who worked her whole life to being in essence a mostly stay at home parent, it is not as easy as it sounds.  It sounds lovely, it is lovely, but it is a major life transition.  And wow can you feel guilty for keeping house which is a job in and of itself.

But with age comes life experience, so in some ways, I think it has been easier for me than some of the younger mothers.  With these younger women, they are not so many years removed from their single and young married party days.  Most of their Facebook pages tell that tale rather readily. So here they are in a fairy tale life to some that on the inside for whatever reason might not be such a fine fairy tale.  So do they drink socially and then it becomes drinking to take the edge off of the reality of life? Or do they just do the mommy pick me up to take the edge off and it gets out of hand?

I don’t really know.  All I know is this is yet another case of a well-educated, well-bred young woman ending up with a DUI with her child in the car.  I am hoping this is a topic that mom bloggers in the area will take up.  Why? Because I think there needs to be a conversation.

The pressure to be the perfect woman is a very real thing. And the sooner we, as women can learn to stop beating ourselves up for not being paragons of perfection, the better. And yes that is a lesson I also have to learn and accept. (Some days are just better than others and self-perception is a tricky and cheeky devil.)

I wish life and fixing life issues was as simple as Cher’s infamous line in “Moonstruck” – you know – “Snap out of it!” – but it’s not.  It takes work. Relationships take work, families take work.  Yes there is love and all the good stuff, but you get the good stuff by working together, don’t you?

So mom bloggers out there, I hope you will take the time to talk about this issue.  Not to be a salacious gossip, but to discuss how we can, as women, address this. And offer support but not enabling to those we might know who are in need.

This is just sad, and like I was sad for Meredith Williams-Earle, I am sad for Grace Tuten. So young to have screwed up so much. And the last thing to consider are the people who never think this will happen to them.  The “I’ll just have one drink” theory.

11 thoughts on “main line mommy d.u.i…..again

  1. I fail to see how you can claim that this woman either has emotional problems or is an alcoholic from that news story. For all you know, it could be an isolated (terrible) incident, no?

    • I don’t know for sure, that is why I wrote about it and how I was feeling about it.

      However from just a practical, common sense, good judgment/bad judgment perspective, normal people don’t just climb into a car with that degree of a blood alcohol level. That was not the blood alcohol level of a little buzz going on, that was pickled.

      My instincts tell me not is all good with that woman, or she wouldn’t have had that much alcohol in her system and got behind the wheel with her child and dogs in the car. I feel incredibly sorry for this woman, however, I also feel strongly about people who booze it up and get into a car with a child, let alone precious pets.

      Blogging is about opinion, and this just happens to be how I feel about this topic. Sorry if it offends you, but to me this is a woman experiencing some sort of crisis , not merely poor judgement.

      I have had a lot of off-line feedback about my post this morning, and you’re the first person that took this position.

      Thanks for stopping by

    • A .28 suggests to me she is an alcoholic. Any social drinker with a .28 would be passed out drunk and could not even get into the car. Alcoholics build up a tolerance from daily heavy drinking where they can function better on higher levels of alcohol – though they are still impaired and an accident waiting to happen behind the wheel.

      And as pointed out, what woman drives drunk with that much alcohol in her system with her two year old in the back seat putting her child in danger unless her judgment is seriously impaired – as happens with alcoholics? A person who just has one too many and is not an alcoholic will know better than to drive with her kid in the car and will call someone to pick her up. An alcoholic does not care as the addiction overtakes common sense.

      IMO, she is an alcoholic and I hope she admits to herself her problem (the first step in recovery as alcoholics are great about denying their problem) and she gets the help she needs. The court ordered stuff is lame. She most likely needs intensive help and I hope she and her family do everything possible to make it happen.

  2. very sad. And sad you are taking a hit for commenting, Hello, it’s YOUR blog! It’s supposed to be about what you think! When i was in 6th grade, i remember my friend staying with us while her mom went to pick up someone at the airport. She returned to pick up her daughter late that night obviously very drunk. ..she had driven in that state likely all the way from the airport—my parents forbid me to go to their house after that.
    Too much pressure these days? “drowning her sorrows” as they used to say? i don’t know. Thank God Grace didn’t hurt anyone and will get quickly into a program for serious help. Sadly i think there are many more Graces out there with alcohol or prescription drug problems.

  3. This story in the news caught my eye because as a young girl my mother was an alcoholic for a short period of time. My sister and I share a few stories of being with my mother when she drove, one time hitting the fence in our driveway and a bees nest. Another incident was rather public, being drunk at Suburban Square, with the tellers calling us a cab to send the three of us home.

    I cannot judge Grace or her issues with drinking, judge whether she is an alcoholic or not. I can only hope that for the safety of herself, child, family and people on the road, that this serves as a wake up call. I pray she has good friends and family that are honest with her and help her get the help she needs.

    • Alison thank you for taking the time to read this post and comment. Truthfully I took quite a bit of heat from some women for doing so. I think for them it may have hit too close to home in some cases. I hope she gets help too

  4. I know Grace. She is a good person who loves her son and her husband. Something is wrong, whether it’s alcohol or something else. I feel for her and hope she can get a handle on it. I agree with you about the pressure of living up to a certain standard when you come from a certain background. I pray she can turn herself around.

  5. I know Grance as well. This incident broke my heart. I am only thankful that her son was unharmed and safe. I hope she gets the help she needs.

  6. I felt sick when I found out about this. I know Grace, too, and know her to be a good person. She made a bad decision and thank God no one was hurt. The legal process that needs to play out around this will take years and I pray she has the strength and self-forgiveness to be the mommy her son needs her to be in these important early years of his life.

  7. Pingback: sigh….mommy d.u.i…….again | chestercountyramblings

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