Part of my job is keeping a close eye on metrics for my company’s website.
And if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that people pounce on stories about Bad Moms like they’re the last sweater from that hot designer’s mini line at Target.
A paraphrased conversation I recently had:
“Should I make this story about a Bad Mom from Nowhere Township, Another State, the lead?”
“How bad is the mom?”
“Uh, moderately bad, I guess.”
And that became the most-read story for the day. Also, my crew spent the next half hour talking about how our parents did almost the same thing to us when we were growing up, but it was the ’70s, man. Remember when nobody had seatbelts? Hilarious.
We frelling LOVE to HATE stories about Bad Moms.
Bad Dads, not so much.
I mean, you do see Bad Dad stories. But they don’t get a fraction of the outrage a Bad Mom gets. It’s like nobody actually expects a man to be a good dad in the first place. So a dad with questionable parenting skills isn’t an affront to our views of nature.
Conversely, men performing what would be a moderately neutral task of parenthood if women were doing it are treated as Dad Gods. Example: My husband often went clothes shopping alone with our baby daughter, and clerks and other shoppers could not stop cooing over how wonderful he was.
I went clothes shopping with our baby many times. Nobody ever stopped me to say how cute it was that I was holding up pink dresses and buying tiny socks. They just wanted me to get out of the way so they could reach the underwear.
But anyway, back to Bad Moms.
Why are we compelled to read about — and judge — Bad Moms?
Part of it, I think, is we live in a society that excessively celebrates Amazing Moms.
Take Joanna Gaines. She has about 3,800 hugely successful businesses, keeps her judgment-challenged husband from dying daily in freak tree-climbing accidents and, oh yes, has adorable daughters who adorably feed the goats while wearing adorably coordinated goat-feeding frocks. Adorable!
How do you compete with that?
When you’re exhausted, stressed and your couch is so perpetually overloaded with laundry that you take to calling it your dresser, you don’t.
You are not an Amazing Mom. But compared to Bad Moms, you are doing OK. And we crave that OK-ness.
I wish I could say something at this point that would make us stop comparing ourselves to other moms. I wish I could point out that if your kids are relatively clean, eat regularly and haven’t burned the school down, you’re doing all right. And then everyone would slap their foreheads and say, “Duh. Right. I AM doing OK.”
But that next Bad Mom story will still get a jillion hits online.
I can’t change that. But if I could leave you one thing, it would be this — something my friend MaryAnne says frequently and is one of the smartest of the many smart things she says:
For most of human history, almost all children have been birthed and raised by illiterate teenagers.
Compared to that benchmark, you are an Amazing Mom.
Now close that website for children’s coordinated goat-feeding dresses and do something fun.