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Good mom/bad mom

May 4, 2016
Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer ( , Estherville News

I saw a preview for the new movie "Bad Moms." Starring millennial beauty Mila Kunis, and Generation X stars Kristen Bell, Christina Applegate, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Kathryn Hahn the movie shows the pressure of the mommy brigade to make a bubble of protection, a perfect life, for the commons of raising young children. A parent teacher association leader goes through a chart for the bake sale: no gluten, no sugar, no butter, no chocolate, no fat, noanything. Kunis, Bell and Hahn rebel, bringing store-bought donut holes to school, and relaxing their standards so the children are late for soccer, eating food that is not organic, and allowed to make mistakes instead of staying on the path of overachievement all the time. The moms go wild with their newfound freedom and set themselves up for the ultimate showdown with the queen bee moms clique.

On the Internet, and particularly social media, it's difficult to scroll for an hour without seeing "open letter to the mom who shamed me for letting my child navigate the slide," or "open letter to the mom who checked her phone while her children played independently," or similar complaints, disguised as concern journalism, about bottle feeding, daycare, preschool, homeschooling, allowing junk food, early bedtime, late bedtime, clothes from high end stores, clothes from discount stores, clothes from thrift stores or hand me downs, structured schedules at home, unstructured schedules at home, plastic toys, no plastic toys, electronics, no electronics. Our grandmothers and great-grandmothers needed only to concern themselves with keeping our parents and grandparents alive and healthy during their childhoods. Most things beyond that were considered a bonus, and my grandfather told me every day as a family was precious because most families of his time lost at least one child to illnesses like pneumonia, influenza, measles, smallpox, polio, or other diseases we have eradicated due to immunizations.

At the same time, work in and outside of the house took so much time, there was little free time to ponder whether dressing Agnes in pink was pigeonholing her into a stereotypical gender role, or whether to seek a therapist for her issues adjusting to the second grade.

It's not that the good old days were better for kids or for parenting. But some of the experiences, like time for free play with the neighbor children outside, organizing their own games at the park, thinking up ways to amuse themselves for the afternoon without heading straight for the tablet or game console, solving their own conflicts and problems, and having only the limits of their imaginations and ingenuity to thwart bullies and other foes, seem to have not been improved upon by the rules of today's motherhood and childhood.

No wonder so many posters and memes and articles on the Internet are about stressed out moms trying to do it all, about the lack of time to just be ourselves, for the children to just be themselves. No wonder I see cries for help in the form of e-cards that announce, "Moms need wine!"

I admit it. I'm a slacker mom. I never could bring myself to push my children to earn a high grade or win something for me. They need to do it for themselves. While I did do all I could to make physics camp and creative writing camp and pilot school and art school happen, I also tolerated magenta hair and tattoos and wild clothes and forging their own paths. That's pretty much just my daughter, who lives in Texas. Some years I receive tangible tokens of their thanks in the form of a spa gift certificate or a picnic by the lake. Other years Mother's Day kind of passes by. I'm not sure what makes the good mother, but I know everyone seems to like my kids, and they'll never stop being my favorite people. I don't drink wine to unwind from the realities of parenting. I give thanks that I have three great humans who call me Mom.



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