While watching Bad Moms there were times when I cackled with glee and scenes when I dabbed my eyes. Was it the greatest movie of all time? No, but it resonated with me deeply.
Mila Kunis leads a rebel group of moms who decide to stop trying so hard to be perfect. They ditch PTA meetings, bring store-bought cookies to the bake sale, and get drunk on weeknights. There are hilarious moments of these women giving the finger to queen bee mom [played by Christina Applegate] and defying what it means to be a good mom.
The movie got a few things very right. First, the importance of finding likeminded women who you can lean on. There are countless times when I rely on my close friends to keep me sane. We share stories about our kids, our husbands, what drives us crazy and what keeps us going. They lift me up. They keep me laughing. They put things in perspective and I hope I help do the same.
Second, the movie highlighted how we’re all quick to judge. Whether you’re the ragged stay-at-home mom, the always running late high-powered lawyer mom, the perfectly coiffed PTA president, or the one who just doesn’t seem to care, the truth is there’s a lot beneath the surface.
We’re each struggling and striving. We all feel highs and lows. We don’t know who has a cheating husband, who is overwhelmed by a health problem, who is in the midst of a financial crisis. Bad Moms certainly made fun of the stereotypes but also showed how misleading the stereotypes truly are.
Third, no matter what kind of supermom you are, there are times you want to scream “I quit!” We have our good days when we cradle our children in our arms and think about how precious every second is. And then we have our bad days.
Most recently, my normally sweet and happy son woke up in the morning and instantly slapped me across the face. Twice. Suffice to say that was the best part of the day. I desperately wanted to hand him over to anyone who would take him and run away. I thought longingly of the days when I only had to care for myself. But then I woke up the next day, and I was greeted by two kisses on the lips. And suddenly, I was elated.
And finally, where Bad Moms really hit home is our desire to be good. To be good wives, mothers, housekeepers, workers, friends, sisters, and daughters. To look sexy, but still appropriate. To appear upbeat and positive, energetic and resourceful, sweet and funny. Many women, but especially moms, crave validation. We want the gold stars, the pats on the back, the approving nods. We want to be told we’re doing a great job. Our kids are succeeding because of us.
But parenting doesn’t include an annual performance review. We need to be our own judges and reflect on how we’re doing. One day we could feel proud but the next we can feel like a failure. And most of the time we have no idea how we’re doing and hold our breaths until we see how our kids turn out.
During the past eighteen months, I’m struck by how little influence I feel like I have as a mother. My son has a distinct personality. He is independent and strong-willed. He is confident and opinionated. I nurture him, guide him, and teach him along the way but I don’t think his behavior is necessarily a direct reflection on my parenting. He is who he is and he will be, who he will be. Of course I want to inject morality and ethics. I want to support him as he grows up, but I’m learning that my report card doesn’t come in the mail once I see where he goes to college, what career he chooses or whom he marries. Those are his decisions.
It is up to us as mothers to do the best we can, and learn when not to care what others think. Because, like in Bad Moms, at the end of the day none of us really know what we’re doing. So instead of judging, let’s be in this together.
Miriam Levine is a freelance writer based in New York City. She is the Founder and Managing Editor of www.ForwardFemales.com