Man, people are throwing shade at me lately. What the hell world, I am just a mild-mannered mom who more than anything wants to bring back kitten sweaters and banana pudding recipes. This recent chiding comes from Salon magazine, where Elissa Strauss writes an article entitled :The tyranny of the “bad mother”: Slacker moms are just as intimidating as perfect ones. Not only does Bad Mom Advice get a finger pointed at it, but also my running crew which consists of STFU Parents and Scary Mommy (who I don’t really know, but seems SO NICE you guys) and my ex-employer Jane Pratt, who I have teased a few times about her “worst mom in the world” nickname. Truth: she isn’t, she loves her daughter Charlotte deeply and I would say she is a pretty damn good mom.
What I assume we all have in common is that we aren’t afraid of the less than Pinterest-worthy moments of parenting, in which there are plenty. Blair from STFU can be excluded from this list because she doesn’t have kids yet, but STFU was born because I think most moms are sick of the humble bragging #blessed and #Beingamom posts we see on Facebook. I don’t call myself a bad mom in order to brag about how naughty I am, I call myself a bad mom as a way to relate to other moms who feel less than perfect because that’s the reality of life and parenting, and it makes me feel less alone.
The issue with all this bad mothering, besides the culture of reverse bullying it has created, is that it doesn’t do much to undo the good mother myth that it was set up to squash in the first place.
I can’t speak for the rest of the women on the BAD MOM LIST, but I never set out to squash any myths. I write about the less than perfect moments of my own parenting as a way to relate to others. Am I intimidated by those I view as “good mothers” – by those women who seems to have all the answers and who have perfectly behaved children and spend hours devoted to the art of mothering and do it all with perfectly blow-out hair and unscuffed Tory Burch ballet flats? Of course I am. Do I take anything away from these moms by confessing I sometimes feed my kids cereal for breakfast or I need to lose weight or I enjoy having a cigarette outside while downing a vodka tonic? No. I think in this great big world there is room for GOOD MOMS and BAD MOMS and moms who are both, which, I think we all know, we all are.
Even the bad moms have days when they are pretty close to perfect. Sometimes the good moms lose their cool or put a diaper on wrong or close the bathroom door and cry in frustration.
Writing about being a bad mom and the flaws in my own parenting didn’t come about as a way to throw shade at those who consider themselves good moms, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I don’t get eye-rolly when seeing a particularly smug Facebook status update or a a beautifully art-directed blog showcasing a gorgeous young mom and her delightful Crewcuts-clad children. It’s human nature to do this, and it’s also human nature to want to relate to others to feel the same.
Strauss ends her article stating that:
This isn’t to say we didn’t gain anything from the bad mother. The spirit of confession she brought, the invitation to reveal our deepest doubts and frustrations, has surely benefited many women who felt suffocated by the mother mystique. But now we need to take that slightly selfish, sometimes bored and occasionally uncaring woman and just call her a mother. Not good, not bad, just mom.
And yeah, I can sort of agree with this, but here’s the thing. No one picks on those women who call themselves “Fashionistas” or “granola” or “Type A” or “hipster”and asks they stop defining themselves how they want. If a mom finds comfort in defining herself by “bad” shouldn’t she also be allowed to? We aren’t trying to make you moms uncomfortable by it, we are just trying to find our own way to fit in.