The worst mom in the world isn’t helping her kid with their homework. Or reading her a bedtime story. Or making sure she brushes her teeth. The worst mother in the world is letting her kid go to the park by themselves. She is feeding her kid cookies instead of dinner. The worst mother in the world is paying her kid’s private school tuition late in order to get her own hair highlighted and then posting an update about it on Twitter. It’s a new breed of mom: the worst mother in the world. Women with children who dub themselves the “worst mom” in order to distance themselves from what they feel is an old-fashioned, boring, limiting descriptor, that of “good mom” or even just mom. Call it extreme detachment parenting.
The worst mom is usually a woman who hasn’t quite made peace with the idea of motherhood and what society has depicted as the image of motherhood: the soft laps and endless hugs scented with homemade cookies and the kisses placed upon skinned elbows. It’s like these women feel they have to parent from a distance; by feeding their kids shitty food and letting them stay out late on school nights and not brushing their hair they are separating themselves from the earnest, responsible boring moms who follow all the usual mom rules.
When you feel the need to proclaim that you are a “bad” mom or the “worst mother in the world” you are looking for validation that you haven’t been sucked into some sensible mom vortex of a caricature of a housewife or worse, your own mother. You are cooler, more interesting, hipper, sexier than other moms. Other moms are putting their kids to bed on time and folding laundry. Fuck that. You are way too cool for that. Most moms, we aren’t high-five-ing each other over how badass it is that we didn’t feel like making dinner so we gave our kids a bowl of Lucky Charms and an apple. We aren’t posting Twitter or Facebook status updates about it. We just realize we were tired and do it differently tomorrow. There’s nothing revolutionary or edgy about this. It’s just being a parent.
You worst mothers in the world, you aren’t that different from any other mom, except it makes you feel better about your identity to label yourself in a negative way so you can enjoy motherhood with a wink and a smirk. It’s almost dangerous to call yourself the “good” mother, because that means you have fallen into the trap of being something you feel clashes with your notion of feminism or identity as a woman, because a “good” mom isn’t the cool mom.
Trying to distance yourself from the other moms at the playground by dubbing yourself the “worst mom” is just a way of reassuring yourself that you haven’t lost yourself, that you are separate from your child and the image of motherhood that society has forced down our throats via advertising and family-friendly sitcoms. You may love being a mom. You probably love your kid more than anything. But by using this moniker, you are expressing victimization by what you feel you are expected to be.
By pulling a reverse #humblebrag all about what you aren’t doing for your kid or how you are throwing back a few cocktails rather than baking banana bread for the school bake sale, you can prove to the world, and yourself, that you are momming on your own terms.
The thing is, us moms are pretty much the same. We all love and want what’s best for our kids. We all struggle with maintaining our sense of identity after giving birth to another human. We all have bad days and good days. With so many cases of real neglect, abuse, abandonment, and filicide in the world today, the title of worst mother should be reserved for those who truly deserve it, not for a normal mother who puts her own needs first on occasion.
It’s normal to feel alienated from other mothers who you see as being more capable or together than you are. It doesn’t matter if she is the one with the kids on the honor roll and the perfectly kept house who always volunteers to bring the sliced fruit to soccer practice or the one with the tattoos and nose ring who probably listens to bands that don’t even exist yet. Every mother feels alone at some point. The worst mom doesn’t even want to acknowledge her insecurities, she just wants to flip everyone the middle finger via exclaiming she parents by not parenting.
There is nothing revolutionary or badass about this. It’s just simple human behavior. The only difference is, some moms slack off on parenting on occasion because they are tired or having a bad day or just feel like taking a shortcut. The worst mother does it so she can prove to the world that even though she may be a mom now, she’s not like other moms.
Using the world as a “confessional” is how these moms seek validation and approval from their mommy peers, and how they can engage in a pissing contest about who gets the title of being the worst mom. If it happens and no one is watching (and it does happen every time a parent is late for a dental appointment for their kid or lets them stay up a few hours past bedtime), then it doesn’t count. It has to be publicized somewhere, casually mentioned in a group of other moms, for it to count. And then it goes beyond just moms relating to each other by sharing their shortcomings. It’s a brand new way for moms to make other moms feel bad about their own parenting choices. If you are too good of a mom, you aren’t a cool mom.
Bragging about how shitty you are as a mom has taken the place of – and it just as annoying as -bragging about how great you are as a mom. Every mom on earth is making mistakes and not the very best choices. It’s just some of us don’t feel the need to share every one of these moments with the rest of the world. As moms we can look to ways to relate to each other and support each other in our choices, or even just confess over a few drinks what we did wrong this week. We don’t need to turn our worst moms brags into just another way to make each other feel like we are momming the wrong way. At the end of the day, all of us are both the best moms and the worst moms. Us plain old moms with no hipster label just don’t feel the need to turn it into a hashtag on Twitter.