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One night last week before I was about to go to bed, the 2016 comedy Bad Moms was on TV. Five minutes into the movie I was hooked. It addresses pressure many mothers feel being “all things to all people”.
The central character Amy, a wife, mother of two, and career person, lives in a Chicago suburb. In her harried life she moves through her day trying to meet the needs of everyone in her life, except herself.
Struggling with chronic guilt, she defines her greatest achievement is “being late all time”.
As you watch Amy frantically attend to daily demands it is apparent she is reaching a breaking point. The coup de grace in Amy’s inevitable meltdown is the high school PTA president, Gwendolyn. She sets the “perfect mom” standard, all women privately despise, but publicly aspire to.
Tired of working so hard to achieve perfection with no support or gratitude, and exhausted by judgment and guilt, Amy checks out. Along with her two new friends Kiki and Carla, they join forces to fight the stereotype of “super mom” by becoming “bad moms”.
During their revolt, the characters go a bit extreme in their behavior, but the movie does drive home some important lessons. I don’t advocate you go extreme, but I do recommend you consider another way to look at your role as a mom.
I extracted some important messages from the movie. So, here are my 6 reasons why bad moms are the best moms.
#1: Bad moms don’t set unreachable bars for themselves or their kids
Supermoms feel compelled to excel at everything in their role. They think their duty is to expose their kids to multiple outlets that set them up for success in life.
Consequently, they over-monitor:
Failure to clear the bar is unacceptable. Supermoms put pressure on themselves and their kids. They have a tendency to “should all over themselves”. “I should do this…” “I should’ve done that…”
Bad moms set realistic bars for themselves and their kids. They strive for growth, not perfection. Pressure is appropriate to the situation. They are not interested in seeking approval from others, therefore they do family life their way.
- Health – food, exercise, rest
- Social life – friends, play dates, social circles, etc…
#2: Bad moms don’t overreact to mistakes
A key moment in the movie is when a self-unmasking occurs among moms in a PTA meeting. Tired of hiding shortcomings, one-by-one, women talk about their struggles and mistakes.
Bad moms are the best because they are authentic. They don’t mind owning their mistakes and create an environment for their kids to do the same. It’s a “no shame zone”. By owning they can work on changing their behavior to something that works better.
#3: Bad moms do selfish things for good reasons
Supermoms consider it selfish to do things for themselves. It’s alway about putting their family first.
Bad moms understand that taking time for themselves makes them better. Mothers deserve a break to recharge their batteries, have fun, and take off the parent hat for a few hours.
#4: Bad moms don’t judge, they support
Supermoms judge. Bad moms support. That’s why they are the best. They are open with their own struggles. Nor are they inclined to judge others. Instead, they show support.
#5: Bad moms let their kids grow by doing some things for themselves
When Amy stepped back in some areas, her indulgent kids had to step up and do things on their own. Her son learn how to cook a frittata and made breakfast for the family.
Bad moms are the best moms because they foster age-appropriate responsibilities in their children.
#6: Bad moms spend quality time with their kids
In one scene, Amy takes her stressed out daughter for a spa day. Supermoms might consider this a waste of time that could have been spent on a developmental task. Not Amy. She knew her daughter needed a break and do something to de-stress. Her mom provided an outlet they could do together without the distraction of people or devices.
The big lesson
Stop killing yourself by trying to be supermom. It’s unrealistic. You are not in a competition. Set your own expectations. If it’s bad to make mistakes, take time for yourself, support others, or let your kids be kids, then that’s a good thing. Perhaps it’s the best thing a bad mom can do.