“I’m such a bad mom.” Five words we tell ourselves, veiled in the feeling that we're just not doing it right. The truth is, with the bar of motherhood set so impossibly high, there really is no doing it right, all the time, in every way. And now, in the throes of a global pandemic, the bar has shifted even higher. If you, too, are making meals out of old cereal, abandoning screen-time limits, and, you know, are occasionally terrified about what the future holds, you're not alone. No Bad Moms is a series about not just lowering the bar, but ditching it completely. It’s about finding the good mom within all of us. And most of all, honoring that in each other, on Mother's Day and EVERY day. So, please share your stories about what it's like to be a mom right now with #nobadmoms, because we see you. And, no matter what, we think YOU are an inspiration.
“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.” Walt Muthaf*ckin Whitman understood motherhood.
Here’s the deal. On any given day, I can be a whole cast of different women. I can be Fun Mom, who cares not for how many hours of soul-sucking iPad time my son indulges in. I can be Rage Mommy, furious that someone has left the open, 5-lb bag of sugar on the floor, knowing full well I can’t just go to the store and get another if it gets knocked over. I can be Productive Mother, the lady with mascara and shoes on, who joyfully oils the butcher block countertop while listening to Motown. Or I can be Sloth Ma, still in my bathrobe at 3 p.m., debating if the optics of wearing it through dinner is depressing for my family.
Will my children look back on this time and diagnose me with a myriad of personality disorders? Maybe. But my hope is that my children — particularly my very sensitive, very analytical 10-year-old son — will see me as someone who tried. I tried. I am still trying.
In school or sports or social interactions, I preach to my son all the time, I don't care if you win, dude. I just care that you got out there and tried. Applying this same perspective to motherhood, I get up each morning not knowing which Mommy I will be. But I try to be the Cool Mom, equal parts sweet and efficient and edgy enough for a 10-year-old to think I’m hip. So, in my latest attempt to try, I open up the field for constructive criticism. While walking with my family on our farm, I announce, I’m writing an essay about mom fails. What do I... Before the question is even finished my son and husband simultaneously respond, “You yell.” I blink.
Well, yeah. I’m the mom. That's what moms do.
“No Mom, you like, really yell.” It’s clearly something they've discussed without me from time to time. We keep on walking and I zone out, weighing the damage I’m doing to my family by being a verified yeller. Am I scary? Do my children distrust me? Are they gonna look back on these years and think I was a jerk?
I feel like: I yell out of frustration. I yell for joy. I yell because I am loud.
hilarie burton morgan
But then, my rationale shifts focus. Of course I yell. If I ask you to put your dishes in the sink five times and you still don’t? I yell the sixth time. If my daughter decides to climb the stove and potentially die? I yell. If the sliding glass door is left open for my toddler to wander off aimlessly into the woods? I yell and aggressively close it.
However, I am also the mom that yells and claps on the soccer field, cheering on the neighborhood kids on both teams. I’m the yeller that whoops and hollers while we dance around the living room watching Sing for the seventy-billionth time. I am the lady hollering I love you! whenever my husband leaves the house to run even the smallest errand.
So as I struggle with all the multitudes of me — the contradictions that all seem to be very boisterous — I hope they will remember that every version of Mommy loved them at a high decibel. Fun Mom, Rage Mommy, Productive Mother, Sloth Ma.
I’m shouting from the rooftops, I love you! Put your dishes in the sink!
Hilarie Burton Morgan is a beloved actor, producer, and now author. Her charisma and charm can be enjoyed in her new book, “The Rural Diaries,” which tells the heart-warming story of looking for her place in the world. Burton tells stories of life on her farm with her family, shares recipes and tips, and expresses the importance of finding acting roles that support and empower women.