It’s time to end the “bad mom” trend. Now, it truly pains me to say this. I am O.G. bad mom, and have been for nearly 15 years now. I was bad mom before bad mom became acceptable. Letting the TV babysit my toddler for hours? Check. Takeout instead of a healthy, home-cooked meal? Check. Doing everything at the last minute? Check. Half-assing just about every part of motherhood? Check.
I’ve never felt like I was acing this parenthood gig. When the “bad mom” bloggers started sharing honest portrayals of their shortcomings, I felt relieved. It felt so good to know there were other women out there struggling like I was.
It Was Fun While It Lasted
I had been looking at these women around me who seemed to do it all. They looked great, their houses were immaculate, and their children were accomplished in school and extracurricular activities. I had accepted that I just wasn’t as good as everyone else. Then the “bad mom” moms came along and relieved me of that burden. Turns out I’m just as bad as everyone else. I was grateful for the permission to suck at motherhood.
Then the memes came along, and they were fun too. They helped me laugh at myself. I shared them with friends and they laughed too. Bad moms are terribly funny.
Then came the web shorts—skits and musical parodies. Here’s bad mom looking like a hot mess as she drops the kids at school in her pajamas. Here’s bad mom drinking wine at 4 p.m. as the kids run circles around her in the kitchen. Look, here’s bad mom bringing store-bought cookies to the bake sale. I do that, too! Hilarious.
Then came the TV shows. We got a chance to laugh at TV bad moms struggling with school lunches and homework. We got to watch them fall short, just like the rest of us.
Then came the movies. There’s literally a “Bad Moms” movie. I don’t think I need to explain the premise. It got mixed reviews, and it seems like something I (as a bad mom) would enjoy.
Glamorizing Failure Encourages It, Though
As embarrassed as I am to say this, however, I think enough is enough. My social media is clogged with bad mommy bloggers nearly every day now. What began as giving moms like me permission to be honest about our struggles has ended in a weird sort of glorification of being a hot mess. In a way, we’ve begun to shame women who work at holding it all together.
We’ve gone from encouraging bad moms to encouraging women to be bad moms. Now the sentiment has flipped on its head, and I fear we may be leaving new and young mothers with a false impression of what motherhood should and can look like.
It’s time to get back to embracing all the incarnations of motherhood. It’s time to stop being commiserators and start being teachers again. We need to be lending our wisdom to the mothers coming up behind us, not scaring them with our horror stories of last-minute science project fails. We should be encouraging them to be better than we were.
Stop Scaring the Kids
It’s time to stop glamorizing bad moms. Yes, this is coming from a straight-up O.G. bad mom. It’s very hard for me to write this, but I think it needs to be said. Too many young Americans are just refusing to have children at all, or at least waiting a very long time until they are only physically able to have one or two at the most.
We’re scaring them! We’re telling them if they choose parenthood they will be constantly overwhelmed, tired, and never don a stain-free garment again. Can you blame them for choosing their tiny houses and vinyl collections over having a family?
Let’s start making room for the good moms again. I think we’ve accomplished our mission. The world now knows that most of us are never going to be Claire Huxtable. Now it’s time to once again extol the virtues and joys of motherhood. It’s time for us to tell the other truth of motherhood—that becoming a mother is the most transformative experience you will ever have in your life.
It will change the way you see everything, and make you more compassionate, loving, and alert. It will teach you how to work hard, how to find joy in tiny, silly moments, how to be grateful. It will expand your heart to a size you didn’t even know existed. It will make you a better person, and it will be the one thing in your life you will always be able to say you never regretted. It’s a guaranteed win, even when you lose—even when you’re bad at it.