In the beginning, bad mommy was gritty and sometimes off-putting, but overall she offered a more realistic parenting model than the good mommy, and so she took off on mommy blogs and in the hearts of conflicted mothers across the nation. Instead, today’s bad mommies are as smug, and even sometimes smugger, than those good mommies they aimed to resist.It wasn’t so much hope that the bad mother represented, but rather relief for moms who were sick of feeling judged by good mothers. These parents, products of a culture that thinks it is just so hilarious to tell parents to “Shut the Fuck Up” while telling their kids to “Go the Fuck to Sleep,” are the new santcimommies.
In her bestselling book “Bad Mother,” Ayelet Waldman puts all her cards on the table, from the boredom at music class and the choice to terminate a pregnancy, not to prove that she was actually a bad mother, but instead to show that despite it all she was actually a good, albeit complex, one. Waldman’s “bad mother” wasn’t a correction to the “good mother myth” so much as a surrender to the whole bottle vs. Last year, my son’s first, I delighted in informing others that I didn’t worry about sleep schedules, the fact that he was bottle-feeding, or whether he was hitting his milestones.
Born in the sanctimommy’s shadows, the bad mother is everything the perfect breast-feeding, plastic-avoiding mom is not.
Bad mommies don’t obsess over things like screen time or nap schedules, they sometimes choose adult conversation or sex over being with their kids, and they don’t feel guilty for serving rotisserie chicken and non-organic broccoli three nights a week.
Now were the moms I was talking to a bit too wrapped up in the good mother myth, with all their fretting about breast is best and crying it out? But I doubt my bad mother response provided any relief.
I’ve been on the other side, been “bad mothered” myself when expressing a parenting concern, and it was neither helpful nor comforting.
Before my son hit the 6-month mark I was hesitant to take him out too much, fearful he would catch something. The issue with all this bad mothering, besides the culture of reverse bullying it has created, is that it doesn’t do much to undo the good mother myth that it was set up to squash in the first place.