Why I Can’t be a “Sh*tty Mom”

Sh*tty moms unite!

That’s the new message giving mothers a good, collective laugh these days. And I confess, I have absolutely NOTHING against so-called “sh*tty moms.” I have plenty of sh*tty motherhood moments that I could regale you with and I can certainly laugh about plenty of them. But when we live in world that loves to label and marginalize mothers to suit their own purposes — soccer moms, Wal-mart moms, not having it all moms, Tiger moms, Chardonnay in sippy cup drinking moms, mamma grizzlies — should we really be celebrating our inner sh*tty moms in a crucial election year?

Sh*tty Mom: The Parenting Guide for the Rest of Us, is the latest “hey, let’s compare how bad we all are at parenting and laugh about it!” book, the kind that usually makes us feel better that our houses don’t look like something out of Architectural Digest, that sometimes we actually let our children eat at McDonald’s and that we’ll never live up to the parenting advice the real experts make us feel guilty about.

But with a major election on the line in a few weeks, and so many campaigns and politicos reminding us that suburban moms are the ones that they want, adding “sh*tty mom” as the new shorthand for our demographic doesn’t exactly invite power players to treat women like the influencers they’ve become. Every now and then mothers get a glimmer of hope — remember all that mom love at the political nominating conventions? It was pretty short lived. Even as countless convention speakers were gushing about women who happen to mothers, others were implicitly suggesting that it’s sh*tty mom behavior to run for office if you’ve got young kids at home, but apparently not sh*tty political dad conduct.

So I can’t embrace the sh*tty mom way of life, at least until after this election. Because if I succumbed to my inner sh*tty mom now, I’d have to stop caring about where the presidential candidates stand on issues like women’s health, education and fair pay. I’d have to ignore the nauseous feelings I have about how the next four years are going to impact the life of my tween daughter.  And I’d have to forget about the possibility of Paul Ryan becoming president if Mitt Romney is elected and something happens to him before 2016.

We’ve only got about six weeks to go before Election Day 2012 — when we’re going to decide whether we want to keep a president who might not be perfect but who’s trying to keep women’s reproductive health safe or whether we want the guy whose presidency would throw a monkey wrench into things that impact our daughters — like whether they can get birth control and whether we, as parents, have to explain things to them like vaginal probes, forcible rape and wire hangars.

At least for the next six weeks, I’m putting out a call for us to put our secret lives of being sh*tty moms on hold and focus on our inner Mothers of Intention.

I know that sounds a little scary, especially if even uttering the word “politics” sends chills down your spine. But there will be plenty of time to be a sh*tty mom again after November 6. So let’s all unite as non-sh*tty moms for a few more weeks and keep our focus on what’s at stake for our kids and families. After that, we can revisit our inner crappy moms, because we’ll all be ready for a good laugh then.

I’ll bring the Chardonnay.

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21 Responses to “Why I Can’t be a “Sh*tty Mom””

  1. Debbie Owensby Moore Says:

    Well said, Joanne. I heard the term “Walmart Mom” again just this morning on the public radio station. I was hoping that label was done and gone. The thought of grouping all women by where they buy their groceries is very insulting to me.

  2. Elizabeth Aquino Says:

    How can we help you to get your book some coverage again?

  3. PunditMom Says:

    @Debbie, I wish we could get rid of some of these labels in our lifetimes.

    @Elizabeth, Any mentions or links to the book would be most appreciated. Anyone know any local radio hosts who do shows on current events?

  4. Karen Says:

    Amen, Joanne!

  5. deb Says:

    i so appreciate this post because our culture too often separates motherhood and politics. for me, they are intimately connected. so i have the same response as you – to be a sh*tty mom right now would mean to sit on the slide drinking coffee without reading the newspaper as much as it would mean without playing with the kids or whatever. moms more than ever need to tune into this election. i feel like so much is at stake for our kids!

  6. Jennifer Comet Wagner Says:

    There is nothing more important to me right now than the election. Thank you for writing this. I completely agree.

  7. PunditMom Says:

    I know it’s all about having a laugh and a sense of humor, but the media is usually all too willing to take anything we say humorously about ourselves and turn it on its head!

  8. SH*TTY MOM Says:

    WE LOVE ALL MOMS and all opinions. Thank you for sharing yours!!!

  9. PunditMom Says:

    @Sh*tty Mom, thanks for stopping by! I am definitely looking forward to returning to slacker mom mode on November 7!

  10. Ellie Says:

    Good points here, however, this book speaks the truth whereas politicians…not so much.

  11. PunditMom Says:

    @Ellie, You are absolutely right. How can we channel whatever mom characteristics we have to find candidates who will tell the truth?

  12. Laurie Kilmartin Says:

    Hi! Co-author of Shitty Mom here. It’s a comedic parenting book, not a political label. FYI, I’m VERY invested in the outcome of this election. Promise you’ll give our book a read on the day after the second Tuesday of November!
    Laurie Kilmartin

  13. PunditMom Says:

    @Laurie, I know it’s a comedy book and I look forward to reading the whole thing (I have read the excerpts). My worry is that the media are so fast to jump on any label for moms, whether they create them or whether we think of them for ourselves, that someone will adopt it as yet another way to refer to mothers in a way that takes yet more power from us.

    As I said in the piece, we all have our parenting moments that are worthy of a laugh, and certainly not part of the usual parenting books. I just don’t want to see those who want to “put us in a corner” find a way to use the sh*tty mom moniker against us.

  14. Laurie Kilmartin Says:

    I TOTALLY get what you’re saying about the media, they will use any shorthand possible to avoid in-depth reporting. But trust me, as someone who’s trying to promote the book, we can’t even get people to say the name of it. No matter how many asterisks we use!


  15. PunditMom Says:

    @Laurie, I have noticed that, too. And I’m not sure why! There are certainly much worse things that get said on TV!

  16. PunditMom Says:

    And I hope if any of you who are reading or commenting are interested, you’ll check out Mothers of Intention, as well.

  17. Tina Says:

    So well said, so timely, so appreciated. I think I look a lot like a Chardonnay mom, but I spent most of my free time with my local School Board reviewing policies. Whether local or national, the policies being put in place affect us more than probably any one single parenting methodology or belief. I hope moms become increasingly engaged in political discourse at all levels, since that is what will most likely make an impact to the lives of our kids, not whether they I let them cry it out, eat a tofu burger or use love and logic.

  18. Linda Gauthier Says:

    I understand your earnestness. I, too, am tired of having all human experiences reduced to cookie-cutters and stereotypes. Motherhood is way too varied and complex and we do live in troubling times politically. I think (and I haven’t read “Shitty Moms” so I am guessing), that it represents a trend in which mothers feel much more comfortable confessing their warts and flaws and conflicting feelings about their parenting. Erma Bombeck lives! I have been known to refer to it as “motherfuckerhood.” I think that kind of humor which is appreciated and understood best by mothers always has its place. It has feminist roots and humor can empower women. You cannot control what the media will do with it. You can find it not funny. But I find it odd to suggest that this is not the time for this kind of humor. I write this with tumbleweed sized dust bunnies rolling through my house, because I would rather watch MSNBC and read about politics than vacuum any day, any year.

  19. Andrea (Lil-Kid-Things) Says:

    Even though we differ on politics I am so with you on this. This is the time to do our homework and make our voices count.

  20. PunditMom Says:

    @Linda, I love your term for our not-so-stellar parenting experiences.

    @Andrea, I’m glad you feel comfortable commenting, even if we don’t share political views.

  21. Crystal Says:

    Well said! I think as moms we just need to work a little harder to support each other. There’s no mold. We all do it differently. Rather than cut each other down, we should be uniting – especially during election year! :)

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