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Can We Stop Pretending Like Being a 'Bad Mom' Is Cool?

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Photograph by Twenty20

Listen, I know there's a trend to talk about being a "bad" mom like it's all hip and cool, but for crying out loud, can we just agree that there's nothing admirable about proclaiming a "bad" mom status?

In order for us all to truly be "bad" moms, we would have to be saying that the normal for mothers is for us all to be the same, and that's just not only true, but actually downright harmful to all of us.

I'm not a "bad" mom if I don't bake cookies for my kids after school and I'm not a smarmy, goody-two-shoes mom if I do. Maybe I just happen to like baking cookies. Maybe making cookies is relaxing to me. Maybe making cookies is the only gosh-darn thing that helped me get through the day, OK?

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I'm not a "bad" mom if I'm always late, always disheveled, always messy. I'm not a bad mom if my kids are whining through the grocery store or still using a pacifier or still sleeping with me at night.

I'm not a "bad" mom if I forget about a school event or not realize that my kid's sassiness is actually a fever starting or think that work-life balance is all one big fat conspiracy.

I'm not a bad mom for doing those things and I'm not a good mom if I don't do those things.

I'm just a mom.

I, for one, am grateful to moms and dads who are willing to run the PTA and do all the events and volunteer and bake cookies because that will never, ever be me.

I think that, even when we are joke about it or share cutesy movies that proclaim anti-PTA, bake-sale, clumsy-yet-adorable mothers as the true "cool" moms, it creates a damaging culture of competitive motherhood. And for crying out loud, who needs that in their life? I, for one, am grateful to moms and dads who are willing to run the PTA and do all the events and volunteer and bake cookies and plan Pinterest-worthy parties that I can marvel at because that will never, ever be me. But I certainly don't consider myself a "bad" mom, nor do I celebrate my failures to do so as proof that somehow I'm way more chill than those stuck-up "good" mom types. I mean, geez. I think that sounds even worse.

We all have different strengths and abilities and I don't see why we waste time proclaiming that some are less worthy than others. I don't know how to cook very well, for example, but I genuinely love baking for my kids. I loathe volunteering at school functions, but I'm always there for the events that matter to my girls. I don't have a bikini body, but I've taught my children that exercise can be a fun family activity. I'm not the best at helping with our kids' homework, but I'm pretty darn good at organizing our family's finances.

Why do we insist on comparing and contrasting with these damaging stereotypes that there's one defined set of skills that all "good" mothers have and then try to pretend we are the cool kids if we happen to lack some of those skills? Why can't we just celebrate our own strengths and ditch the whole "bad mom" label?

That stereotype about the mom running the bake sale, for example, has got to end. First of all, do any schools even do bake sales anymore? We all know that sugar is the devil. Second of all, anything baked at home by anyone is downright suspicious. Wouldn't you prefer something store-bought to the snot-filled cupcake your neighbor's 2-year-old "helped" make? *shudder * And lastly, that stereotypical mom that you want to mock for demanding all food be gluten-free, dairy-free and nut-free? Well, maybe her kid could die from just smelling nuts, so why don't we all just back off? Deadly allergies would make anyone crazy and who's the bigger jerk to make fun of someone like that?

Unless you are downright neglecting or abusing your kids, there is no such thing as a bad mom, and there's no reason to take on a smug, "I'm better than you because I don't care about those superficial things" approach either. It's OK to bake cookies, plan a Pinterest party, work insane hours or put your kids to bed at 6 p.m. if that's how you roll. It's all OK, but nowhere is it written that doing this motherhood thing means glorifying being a "bad" mom.

Good moms exercise, good moms don't.

Good moms breastfeed, good moms don't.

Good moms bake, good moms don't.

Good moms volunteer, good moms don't.

Good moms work, good moms don't.

Good moms drink, good moms don't.

Good moms stay home, good moms don't.

Good moms are organized, good moms are not.

Good moms have Instagram-worthy houses, good moms don't.

Good moms throw parties, good moms don't.

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The point is, there's no such thing as a "good" mom or a "bad" mom because we are all so, so different. And the only behavior that makes us look bad as moms is when we try to put down another mother for parenting just a little differently than us.

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