In Defense of Bad Moms
by Micaela Fassina
Last summer, a fellow mom and I left our kids with the hubbies and went to see the movie “Bad Moms”. In a theatre full of other escaping moms (and an occasional dad) we laughed so hard we cried. And during the drive back to reality, we spoke about our “bad mom” moments. But it got me wondering why moms have to be labelled like this, and why we need a movie like this to make us start talking about the pressures of modern motherhood.
I think many moms can agree that the (often self-imposed) pressure to be a perfect mother can be overwhelming. Not only do you have to raise your kids according to the latest accepted standards, but you must only feed them home-made meals from locally sourced organic food. Your children must be able to read before starting kindergarten – easy enough since you can spend all your time teaching them in the many hours they are not watching TV or on any electronic devices. Once in school, lunches and snacks are nut-free, egg-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, and legume-free. After-school activities are scheduled in a relentless barrage of arts, music, culture, and athleticism. And the special events are Pinterested to within an inch of their lives.
I remember one Halloween when I baked and frosted about 150 pumpkin- and witch-shaped sugar cookies for my preschooler’s and kindergarten student’s classes. Looking back on that late night of frosting hell, I can only ask myself why did I felt the need to do this? Was it for my now 10- and 12-year old children (who don’t remember these cookies – I asked), or was it to impress the other overachieving moms? And I assume that many of these other overachieving moms were caught in the same vicious cycle as I was. We were all feeding off each other in some classroom version of “keeping up with the Jones’”, except the Jones’ were really only our own expectations.
On the flip side, one of my better bad mom moments happened when my older son fell face first down a jagged icy mountain of plowed snow (which I warned him not to climb) at the bus stop one morning just as the school bus turned the corner. After assurances that he was ok, he got on the bus, even though his face was covered with surface scratches. Of course, a half hour later I got a horrified phone call from the school as soon as they saw him, and had to drive to school with a tube of Polysporin.
They say the best comedy is based on real life. “Bad Moms” is an exaggeration of both sides, but it resonates with so many mothers because they see themselves, or other moms they know reflected in the on-screen characters. Halloween cookies excepted, I don’t do the perfect mom thing; but I don’t think I’m a bad mom either. I figure that as long as I raise my children to be well-adjusted and (in public) well-behaved, I’m doing OK. My children were in disposable diapers, and ate store-bought baby food. They watch TV and know how to find YouTube on all our devices. If they forget to bring something to school with them, I don’t run to deliver it. If they do not complete homework, I do not make excuses for them to their teachers. Their after-school activities are not forced upon them, but picked by them – if they ask to do it, they can do it. Teaching them to be independent and letting them learn from their mistakes will serve them better in the long run than me “helping” them by doing everything for them.