Why Does It Feel So Good to Be a Bad Mom?

Like many moms across the country, chances are the last movie you saw was animated . . . that is, until the long-awaited Bad Moms hit the theaters this summer. Suddenly, moms came out from under piles of laundry and dirty dishes, grabbed their girlfriends, and headed to the movies. They traded in yoga pants for jeans, sippy cups for champagne flutes, and sat enthralled in dark theaters all over the nation, watching brave women “just say no” to ideals of motherhood perfection. They experienced a liberating couple of hours, empowered to go back to their routines with a renewed sense of courage and hope.

Bad Mom

If you haven’t had time or interest to see it yet (don’t worry, no spoiler alerts here), the main idea of the movie is the familiar struggle of modern-day motherhood: trying to have it all, and, at the same time, making that achievement seem easy, flawless, and fun. The movie pokes fun at our culture’s excessive helicopter parenting, martyrdom motherhood, and inequitable parent responsibilities within a marriage. Also present in the movie is the reality that we moms experience a fierce and crazy affection for our offspring, going to great lengths to love, protect, and nurture them. And, sometimes in that desire to love, protect and nurture, we find ourselves exhausted, overwhelmed and stressed. (Can I get an amen?!)

There is something about seeing these realities exaggerated on the big screen that brings not only comic relief but a little bit of personal conviction, too. However, while there is some truth to finding the balance between the responsibilities of life and letting loose now and again, perhaps that balance can be found in manageable moderation and not in reckless extreme. I think the film’s suggestion that liberation from perfection and escape from stress can be solved with intoxication is not exactly the role model we want to set for our children. We all know that life, unlike a movie, doesn’t always get better with the next wild party, the romantic relationship, the next diet, the next perfectly Pintrested project. At the same time, it is Hollywood, and absurdity and hilarity make for better comedy (and ticket sales). Be warned: the humor, of course, comes at an R-rated cost of foul language and profane content.

If you can get past that, there are a few themes in the movie that ring universally true for moms, and you already know these, whether or not you ever see this movie. They are worth a review and reminder though:

Don’t hold yourself to unrealistic expectations. You will only set yourself up for disappointment and unnecessary pressure, both of which can undermine your ability to be the great mom you are.

Do practice self-care. Find a balance in caring for others and paying attention to your own needs. Are you and your family overscheduled? Do you have time built in to let loose and enjoy time together or enjoy time in whatever way gives you energy and joy?

Don’t judge others, and, for heaven’s sake, quit comparing yourself to other moms and families. All the needless divisions we create (who works where and who is busier, etc.) are life-draining and only serve to pit moms against one another when what the world needs is moms who can offer both courage and encouragement.

Do be honest and do be you. Both take vulnerability, and both require confidence. And both allow the world to see you shine, with all your particular gifts and qualities.

Don’t do it alone. None of us are ultimately independent. You are not a martyr. You can ask for help. (And you might make some really wonderful friends in the process!)

Do find community. Invest in friends who are life-giving, not toxic or draining. Cherish a spouse who can be a partner in carrying the load. Find a community of other people who can speak honestly about their struggles and offer encouragement (check out our Neighbor Groups through the Fort Worth Moms Blog).

We moms need these reminders, whether expressed in a conversation or a blog or a summer blockbuster movie. Life is better when we choose to live authentically, putting into practice the truths that we know to be true. So, if being a “bad mom” is about the healthy balance of caring for self and others, about success and failure, then let all of us bad moms unite for the good of the world!

Robyn met her husband in his homestate of North Carolina, and, as he says, they “comprised” after marriage and settled one hour from her family and six states from his. Still, they love to visit friends and family in North Carolina every year with their 10-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son. They have gladly called Fort Worth home for more than a decade where Robyn works as a pastor at a Presbyterian church, particularly focused on mission outreach and family ministry. Reading “grown up” books, having travel adventures, and enjoying thoughtful conversations are what keep her going.


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