For me, laughter is the best medicine, and Bad Moms is basically a two-hour antidepressant. This is the kind of movie that brings similar people — moms — together to laugh at exaggerated versions of themselves (possibly fueled by some purse liquor).
The film is crude, it often hits too close to home, and it surprisingly makes you stop and think about whether being “perfect” is really worth the effort. This has led the moms I know to have some very real conversations.
I asked three questions of several moms who I admire — moms who are also teachers, medical professionals, accountants and marketers, who somehow balance a career, husband, kid(s) and myriad of activities.
After reading their replies, it’s clear I am not the only one who cries in the car after daycare drop off because I feel anxiety about my parenting.
How or when do you most feel judged for your parenting?
Sarah Bryant: It’s the pressure I put on myself that makes me feel like a “bad mom.” When I see other moms boasting on Facebook about their children’s accomplishments, it makes me feel like I’m not doing a good job at my mom job. The moms who have time to pack themed lunches or who scour Pinterest for the perfect party crafts — more power to you.
In my world, simply getting my kids to school on time is marked in the win column. As a career woman, there have been times when I can’t always be there for my kids, and it makes me feel like I am letting them down. I wasn’t blessed with the nurture gene, but I have to believe that showing them how to succeed in life counts for something.
Beth Morton: I feel most judged regarding working full-time and how I choose to do childcare. It seems that everyone’s got an opinion, whether it’s, “I don’t know how you could possibly leave your baby” (from stay-at-home moms/people who don’t have kids) or, “Kids need to learn structure and how to socialize with other kids — they should be in daycare” (from working moms). You just can’t win.
Elizabeth Chandler: If my kids are throwing a hissy fit and I can’t control them, or we are at the store and they are acting crazy. I usually feel judged by older parents like grandparents.
Breanna Oliver: I feel the most judged for my parenting just by being a working mom. It’s either assumed that 1) I made a bad choice in men because my husband doesn’t make enough for me to stay home, or 2) I’m a horrible mother for choosing to have a career rather than staying home 24/7 to care for my kids and husband.
Maybe if my life circumstances were different I would make the choice to stay home. But maybe I also enjoy my career and doing something other than “momming.” Maybe I’m actually a better mom when I’m with my kids because of my job. Because when I’m home I enjoy my kids so much because I missed them something fierce during the day.
Bobbie Earles: I don’t normally feel super judged, but as a working mom I do feel that not as much value is placed on working hard at work, at home, with our kids, on our marriage, etc. I don’t think some men get all that working moms have to do and/or see our necessary value in the workplace.
What is the hardest thing about being a mom?
Sarah: The hardest thing about being a mom is the battle against time. This time that we have on earth is our most precious resource. As moms, we set the pace and decide each day how we are going to spend the little time we have together. So for me, it’s so painful doing the math to discover my kids’ teachers get to spend more time with them than I do.
Beth: Finding the time and the energy to do everything I need/want to do, and doing it all well. I want to be a great mom, but also a great employee/boss/wife/sister/daughter/friend … AND to enjoy my hobbies.
Elizabeth: I think just dealing with guilt over not getting it right and screwing something up for the future, or feeling like I should have done something differently. I will feel guilty about something all day — and it was so trivial — but I beat myself up for it.
Breanna: Juggling everything. There are only 24 hours in a day, and I do like sleep! Also, not meeting the unrealistic expectations I put on myself. Like I’m a failure because my house isn’t spotless and I don’t cook dinner every night.
Bobbie: Two things: 1) I’m my own worst critic. I’m so hard on myself when I’m actually pretty kickass. 2) Being the default parent and the loneliness that accompanies it. What a mom does can never be appreciated enough. We’re all just trying to put fish sticks on the table — whether they’re microwaved or vegetarian!
What is the best thing about being a mom?
Sarah: I think the best thing about being a mom is that they don’t care about everything I mentioned before (at least until they get into therapy as an adult). No matter how inadequate I feel, to hear my daughter say, “You’re the best mommy ever!” makes it all worth it.
Beth: Seeing your child grow/learn/hit milestones. And the snuggles, giggles and kisses.
Elizabeth: Unconditional love and snuggles!
Breanna: The best thing about being a mom is just the amount of love you give and get in return. And how that love just grows and grows with each passing day. And getting to watch little lives grow and develop and become the people they are going to be — knowing you helped shape them. And the laughter — my kids are the best antidepressant. If I’m having a rough day or things aren’t going my way, just being with my kiddos makes everything better!
Bobbie: Watching my kiddo grow up to be a good person.
Give yourself a break
In the grocery store of life, there will always be others looking in on shopping carts (real and metaphorical) with unmerited opinions, as perfect strangers hit us with their criticisms of parenting based on what they see in our baskets or how our children behave. I believe our own insecurities exaggerate most of that criticism, real and perceived. As we judge ourselves, we create the problem. If we can learn to treat ourselves with the same love and kindness we show our children, we may just discover the beauty in our imperfections.
It should not be a sin to want the best for your child and the best for yourself. Underneath all of the responsibilities and attributes of all loving mothers, there still lies a person. I think we forget that.
So give yourself a break — not a vacation — from responsibilities. Pause to look at yourselves through your children’s eyes. You are worth it.
To the moms who took the time to answer my questions, thank you. I hope you feel represented and heard. Although none of us is perfect, you are all amazing. And for so many other moms who share the same struggles: Go to the store, linger in the chips aisle and buy whatever you want.
Just don’t look in my cart. I promise not to look in yours.
I still breastfeed my 2-year-old (and it’s fine) by Angela A. Arcos