The Bad Mother Manifesto

June 8, 2009

My name is Catherine, and I am a bad mother. I (mostly, sort of, kind of) do not have my tongue in my cheek when I say that. I am a Bad Mother (TM).

I am a bad mother according to many of the measurements established by the popular Western understanding of what constitutes a good mother. I use disposable diapers. I let my children watch more television than I’d ever publicly admit. I let them have cookies for breakfast. I let them stay up too late. I don’t follow a schedule. I don’t go to playgroups. I stopped breastfeeding because I was tired of it. I co-slept with my son. I didn’t co-sleep with my daughter. I have been treated for depression. I stopped my treatment for depression. I am entirely too attached to Ativan.

I have left my children alone in the bathtub. I have spanked my daughter. I have turned my back on my crying son. I have had intrusive thoughts. I drink. I curse. I have put my own needs first. I have thought that I love my husband more than my children. I have had moments of resenting my children. I have thought that motherhood is boring. I document all of these things and lay them bare for the world to see. I have been called an exploitative mother. I have wondered whether that might be true.

I have thought that perhaps I am not at all cut out for this motherhood thing.

I have thought that I am a bad mother. I know that I am bad mother, in so many of the ways that matter to the people who worry about how and why women should be good mothers, and in most of the ways that don’t matter to anyone at all other than me at three o’ clock in the morning after a particularly long, ego-smashing day.

But:

I reject entirely the idea that I should be a good mother in any manner other than those that matter to me: that I take care of the basic needs of my children, that I love my children well, that I make certain that my children know that they are loved well, that I ensure that a day never passes in which I do not not hug or kiss my children or tell them that I love them, and that I ensure that a day never passes in which they – and I – laugh out loud at least once.

I reject entirely the idea that there can be any community consensus about what – beyond the provision of love and care – constitutes a good mother. I reject entirely the idea that we can or should judge each other as mothers, beyond the obvious and most basic standards of care, and even then, I reject entirely the idea that any one of us is so perfect that she could throw the first stone without hesitation.

I reject entirely the idea that mothers should worry about what it means to be a good mother in any respect beyond loving and protecting and providing for their children.

I reject entirely the idea I should worry, and yet worry I do. I worry because everywhere I look, at every turn, at every corner, in every magazine and on every television show and in every discussion, everywhere, about the what-why-how of motherhood, is the Good Mother.

The Good Mother – the idea of the Good Mother, the theoretical and aesthetic model of what it means to mother well – is the true spectre, the spectre that has haunted mothers since God first smacked our hands for being too graspy and ejected us from the Garden and hollered at us to go forward and to give birth in pain and alone and to mother in anxiety and alone and to basically just angst out for every second of our lives. The idea of the Good Mother has kept us in our place, has kept us cowering, alone, behind the veil; our important work – our critically important work – kept hidden behind the walls of the household; our lives and our stories and our history kept secret, kept quiet, because Good Mothers are private, are modest, are pudicae, because Good Mothers tell no tales. Devoted Good Mothers listen only to community edicts about what the Good Mother looks like and then devote themselves, silently, to the work of emulating the Good Mother. They do not share their failures. They do not share their struggles. They do not tell stories about the dark and the difficulty and the anxiety and the impossibility of keeping one’s cool in the dead of night when the baby is shrieking and the toddler is crying and one hasn’t slept in weeks. They do not talk about shutting the door and ignoring the cries. They do not talk about intrusive thoughts. They do not talk about repeating the words fuck I hate this fuck I hate this like so many Hail Marys, like a meditation upon frustration, like a mantra of failure. They do not talk about these things, out loud.

They keep their silence, and look to the Good Mother, hoping that she will provide guidance, hoping that in her lays the way of all maternal truth and happiness. They look in vain.

The Good Mother is everywhere, all at once, and she looks like everything, and nothing. She stays at home; she goes to work. She attachment-parents; she’s Babywise. She home-schools; she Montessoris. She vaccinates; she doesn’t vaccinate. She follows a schedule; she lets her kids run free-range. She co-sleeps; she wouldn’t dare co-sleep. She would never spank; she’s a strict disciplinarian. She’s an Alpha Mom; she’s a Slacker Mom; she’s a Hipster Mom; she’s a Christian Mom; she’s a Hipster-Christian-Alpha Mom who slacks off in the summers. She’s Everymom; She’s NoMom. She brooks no disagreement: if you argue with her, you start a Mommy War. But the wars are futile and pointless because the combatants are all fighting on the same side, her side, which is no side, and in the end we just batter each other until we are dumb and we give up and retire to our camps, bloody and bruised and determined to just keep it to ourselves next time and so it ends as it always does, in silence, with none of us saying what we really want to say, what we really need to say, which is this: who the fuck cares?

Who is anybody to tell us whether we are good mothers? Who the fuck knows what a good mother is anyway? And why can’t we say this out loud, why can’t we just live our motherhood out loud and proclaim our diversity to ourselves and to each other and to the world and declare the idea of the Good Mother – the all-encompassing, do-no-wrong, one-size-fits-all perfect model of the Good Mother, the Uber-Mom who has been witnessed by none of us – dead? We do not need her, we don’t, we really don’t.

The only persons who can measure our mother-worthiness are our children, and even they are unreliable.

All that we have, then, is this: the measure of our hearts and the measure of our eyes and our ears and our good sense. Do we love our children as best we can? Do we keep them, as best we can, healthy in mind and body? Do we make sure that they laugh? Do they smile in our presence?

That is enough. That must be enough. And if that is not good enough – if there remain those who would insist that there is more to mothering well, that I must do more, that we must do more, that the community must do more to police, to enforce, to uphold the rule of the Good Mother – then, well, I shall remain – loudly, proudly, publicly – Bad.

Are you a Bad Mother? Which is to ask - regardless of whether or not you identify with, or struggle with, the idea of being ‘Bad’ – are you a regular old ordinary flawed-but-awesome REAL mom? Are you just tired of the pressure to be ‘Good’? Then join me. We’ll unite and take over.

*(with apologies to Karl Marx, and, parenthetically, to Friedrich Nietzsche and Niccolo Machiavelli, all of whom would doubtless regard my appropriation of their modes of argument for the purposes of defending the liberation of mothers from old modes and orders of virtue as terribly, terribly amusing and, I would hope, somewhat charming, in a contrary sort of way.)

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    { 204 comments }

    marymac June 11, 2009 at 10:46 am

    Love.Your.Blog. After reading Tanis' post yesterday I (sorry in advance about the talked out thing..but had to chime in my $.02 on my own blog) posted on the topic as well. Come read – promise you don't have to debate anything!

    http://www.pajamasandcoffee.com

    Anonymous June 11, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    I just think the whole argument is flawed, in that it's not the 1950s and where is all this pressure to behave like a "Good Mother?" I have never seen it, felt it, or experienced it. I think the idea that there are impossible standards placed on mothers is pure fiction.

    Catharine June 11, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    Anonymous: What planet are you from?!

    b*babbler June 11, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    Not a Good Mother, not a Bad Mother, just a mother.

    And that's good enough for me.

    Sarah June 11, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    Absolutely beautiful article! Thank you for it :)

    Kelly June 11, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    I'll admit that I didn't read every comment, but I don't think I read anything that mentioned abuse or neglect of children. That lead me to assume (wrongly?) that you felt some of the comments/confessions were on/over the line of abuse/neglect.

    Maybe, too, I've misinterpreted your definition of "bad" since most of the time it seems tongue-in-cheek yet yesterday you stated you were being serious and then listed a bunch of things that I, personally, don't consider "serious bad" just "human". Of course, my definition of "serious bad" is where that abuse/neglect line is. The rest of us just live in the great grey area of "Doing our Best".

    Marcy June 11, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    AMEN! Thank you for this. I wholeheartedly adopt the idea of the "good enough" mother, because there's no way in hell that I'll ever be that perfect mom. I just don't have it in me. And I'm learning that that's okay.

    Her Bad Mother June 11, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    Kelly – I AM mostly ironic. Which is I said "mostly" ;)

    What is not ironic is the fact that I *do* do some things that others would consider bad, so the statement that my tongue was not in cheek was a nod to that. Some people WOULD call me a bad mother. I say booey to them.

    Jenna June 11, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    Ya know, I cannot agree with you more. I wonder when it became such a popular pastime for mothers to spend so much energy judging and condemning other mothers.

    I feel like I spend an extraordinary amount of time justifying every single decision I make regarding my daughter's care and upbringing.

    Just because something works for your kids, does not mean it will work for mine, and vice versa. Why the hell can't we just realize that and get on with the business of raising our kids? Our own way.

    Anonymous June 11, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    Catharine (comment from above): I am from this planet, raising a toddler and working full time.

    My comment was entirely serious. I do not understand where this "pressure" comes from. Do you feel it from family? Friends? "Society?" What exactly does that mean? Can you give me an example?

    I agree with Don Mills Diva, who recently wrote on her blog:

    I think the so-called "widespread pressure" to be a perfect mom and the old trend of "impossible parenting standards" are nothing but made-up media constructs too. I've never felt societal pressure to be a perfect mom and no one has ever asked or, to my knowledge ever expected, me to conform to impossible standards. And also? I've asked around and none of my friends have either. Instead we all just vaguely recall the media prattling on about some kind of supermom phenomenon.

    Anonymous June 11, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    HBM: you seem to court controversy with some of your posts and then after a while shut off comments and claim that you're too tired/talked out and it all seems to positively overwhelm you.

    What did you expect?

    toyfoto June 11, 2009 at 5:05 pm

    You called yourself a bad mother, said you were proud of it, lay it out as a manifesto and feel rebuked when some people say they don't agree and give reasons such as it's just another label to weild against one another. I read in one comment somewhere that you felt "admonished" for your choice.

    Which, from my perspective at least, isn't what I saw people doing. I saw people respectfully and thoughtfully disagreeing with your solution, not your point.

    Isn't that what the sharing of ideas is about?

    Joyful Girl June 11, 2009 at 5:33 pm

    The search for Bad Motherdom is actually what led me to the world of bloggers. My son is a achingly sweet, whipsmart, but not neurotypical, little boy and I felt I couldn't live another moment without having my anguish and terror and fury validated. The sanctimony and holiness with which my role was regarded confined me and made me feel emotionally dishonest. I am truly grateful for you and the others living Out lives in Bad Motherdom. Without your words, it would be that much harder for the rest of us to own our Badness!

    Anne June 11, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    I'm so glad I learned before I became a mother that none of us can be 'good mothers', and the best we can be is 'good enough'. And most of us didn't even get that.

    I'm with you.

    Her Bad Mother June 11, 2009 at 7:33 pm

    Toyfoto – I said that I felt admonished by posts and comments that suggested that a) I was willfully encouraging mothers to be truly (abusively, neglectfully) bad, and/or b) that my 'bad mother' stance was just a marketing ploy. And, too, when it was suggested that there must something wrong with me (that I must be in pain or terribly angry or "spiritually immature") to take such a position. I welcome and enjoy debate, as anyone who has read this blog for any amount of time knows, but I get testy when people take personal shots or question my authenticity or my good intentions.

    Of course, sometimes I get overly sensitive and the lines blur, but I am, after all, flawed, imperfect, and so prone to imperfect reactions ;)

    Her Bad Mother June 11, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    Anonymous 4:12 – I don't actually court controversy. I just write what I think. Which, in some cases, I certainly do realize that responses might be mixed, but I'm not setting out to stir up controversy. And in any case, it's my space here, and I should, I think, be free to decide when I want to step back from discussions. (Also, seriously, it sometimes just becomes an issue of volume – I get e-mails and messages in addition to comments, which stream through one of my e-mail accounts, and sometimes the volume just gets to be a bit much. If I can't actually read it all – and certainly if I need to walk away from the computer for a day – I turn off comments, just to maintain a balance. Turn off the taps, so to speak.)

    Anonymous June 11, 2009 at 11:24 pm

    While nobody is expected to attain what you deem to be perfection, to abandon the quest to better ourself, our world and the lives of our children is to wallow in self indulgent behaviour. It is selfish to prioritize ones own desires over those we love. You may remember this when your child finds you boring in your old age, or posts on their blog they love their spouse, children or dog more than you. Even if true, there is little benefit in sharing it to the world. Bad mothers train bad children, citizens and future parents who embrace mediocracy. But there is nothing noble about embracing complacency and mediocracy. It is a sad state of affairs if our criteria drops to the "most basic standards of care". I would not celebrate a hospital with such standards. I would not advocate travel an airline with that mantra. I do not see the benefit in your attempt to lower the bar for parenthood. Letting your child cry without reason or purpose then kissing them at least once a day is inconsistent and insensitive. I would reject a kiss from someone who turned their back on my cries of pain… our children just don't know any better to do the same.

    We should strive to be better parents not to meet "community edicts" but because, in answer to your question of who the *&%* cares….. it is our kids who care, until that day they will learn to stop caring at all. A good mother is not one who spanks or does not spank, but one who establishes clear guidelines… and yes schedules. We ask no less of our banks, government offices and friends. Arbitrary and inconsistent timelines and rules are nothing to be proud of. We have thrown out political leaders and fired employees for less. A good mother is not one without flaws, but one who does not seek praise for those flaws or mistakes

    For those who think this might be too judgement, I pray your position does NOT take over, lest we live in a world of bad doctor who oppose too harsh standards of care, bad pilot who abide by basic standard, where we turn our backs on the cries of strangers and we all put our own needs first. You can keep your cookies for breakfast.

    Written by the husband of a good mother.

    p.s. you also misread Machiavelli, Nietzsche and Marx.

    Karishma June 12, 2009 at 12:07 am

    i'm late to this, but i had to say something. i just posted this for tanis, and the same thing applies right here, so here goes:

    i have to say, i disagree. i do think this is a fad. and quite a ridiculous one, for a simple reason: every blogger i have seen so far who has declared herself a ‘bad’ mother is one who i would consider an amazing mother. i think the success of parenting is measured by just that – its success. obviously there are exceptions, kids who went the opposite direction despite the best efforts of their parents, but for nearly everyone, success is measured by that exact description of your children: “well-adjusted, emotionally happy and highly functional children.” bad mothering would result in the exact opposite.

    i refuse to call ANY parenting that results in happy, well adjusted children ‘bad’ parenting, NO MATTER how different the parenting style is from the traditional standard. it degrades your success, it degrades the integrity of your parenting, and diminishes the love and effort you have poured into your offspring. it may be ‘different’ parenting, it might be ‘unique’ or ‘offbeat,’ or called ‘tanis parenting’ if necessary, but NEVER should it be called ‘bad.’ to call it bad is to embrace rebellion, to give up fighting against the negativity and judgment that is rampant in these hot button issues. i would never call anyone like you or catherine a bad mother, because you AREN’T bad mothers. you are amazing mothers, with unique, maybe sometimes controversial, ways of accomplishing the very same thing – parenting your children in a way that best fits both yours and their needs. in my book, that’s called ‘good’ parenting.

    Anonymous June 12, 2009 at 8:55 am

    I think you're a total retard bitch and should choke on your Ativan, you dumb slut.

    Her Bad Mother June 12, 2009 at 8:56 am

    Anonymous: "All that we have, then, is this: the measure of our hearts and the measure of our eyes and our ears and our good sense. Do we love our children as best we can? Do we keep them, as best we can, healthy in mind and body? Do we make sure that they laugh? Do they smile in our presence?"

    I am in no way suggesting that mothers not strive to be the best we can. *I* strive to be the best I can. What I am saying is, we should be able to determine for ourselves what the right models of 'best' are, and not feel that we have to live up to what the media, or whomever else, says is 'Good (capital G!) Mothering'. After all, as I say – there's no consistency in those models, anyway. I'm saying, let's be our own arbiters of what is 'good' – which as I say above, is something that lays above a baseline of loving and caring for our children well.

    Her Bad Mother June 12, 2009 at 8:59 am

    Karishma – thanks for saying that you think I'm amazing mother. I think so, too – I really do. I just insist upon making that definition for myself.

    And – there may be a media fad of talking about bad mothers, but Tanis and I – and Kristen of Motherhood Uncensored, and Dooce, among quite a few others – have been writing this way and talking about 'bad' motherhood for YEARS. That's a long fad.

    L~ June 12, 2009 at 9:11 am

    guilt is overrated, and so is the fear of judgment about the kind of mother i am or am not. I will join your movement!! With all of my heart.

    paperfairies June 12, 2009 at 9:17 am

    "there's no consistency in those models, anyway" Thank you! There IS NOT. Every individual/institution has a different opinion of what good mothering is but the problem is that it's been all wrapped up in this mutating, judgmental, mommy-war starting monster. "This is the way you should do it because that other way, oh no! that's just wrong."

    Unless there is abuse or neglect, there is no wrong.

    Jennie June 12, 2009 at 9:53 am

    I am "bad" and proud of it! I simply could not agree more. Some days we are the model of the (supposed) perfect mommy, with all the rules of bedtimes and manners and square meals. And sometimes we are slack-ass chicks who don't care that the TV has been running Noggin all day & that the best meal anyone had came from McDonald's. No apologies as long as you love and support and care for them with your whole heart. We should be allowed to be human and imperfect sometimes and not feel guilty! After all, isn't that how we want our children to be too? I know I do.

    Catharine June 12, 2009 at 11:12 am

    "I think you're a total retard bitch and should choke on your Ativan, you dumb slut."

    The unfortunate person who wrote these words is exactly the kind of person who produces really fucked up kids. How violent, how full of rage (not to mention misogyny) is this person? I don't have to ask "how stupid" because that is painfully obvious.

    You see, Catherine, as Philosophers have always known, it is dangerous to speak the truth. Kudos to your chutzpah. I say, don't apologize or try to explain anything. Because you are more or less in the category of "Mommy blog," you are necessarily going to get a bunch of wackaloon asshat readers/responses. These people live in fear of the truth and your honesty is clearly felt as a threat to them.

    By the way, an earlier comment written by a man (who seems to feel threatened by Real women – women who are more than walking, talking reproductive machines) accuses you of not "getting" Marx, Nietzsche and Machiavelli. Well, this reminds me of a pseudonymous science blogger that I know who is a high level official at the CDC who's readers are forever "correcting" him on scientific/policy matters. Feh!

    FYI: It is clear to anyone who knows Marx & co. from a rabbits ass that you totally grok the above mentioned thinkers — and many more who are not mentioned.

    You are a first rate thinker, a first rate mother (in all of your glorious badness) and a first rate human being. Keep fighting the good fight.

    (By the way, a friend of mine used your essay in the freshman English classes he teaches at a community college in Philly (credit given to you, of course) and your essay was very well received and sparked enthusiastic discussions.)

    Anonymous June 12, 2009 at 11:39 am

    I do not see any empowerment to any Mother in adopting this "Bad Mother" philosophy. Does calling yourself a "bad mother" make it ok to "sometimes" hit? abuse? I feel like you are saying, "it is ok because we are all bad mothers sometimes". Not acceptable.

    Also, you seem to be very critical of the media, but in the last few months I have seen you quoted twice in the Toronto Star (with full color pictorial articles) and also a Canadian magazine. I think perhaps you are beginning to believe your own hype!

    Tanis Miller June 12, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    You know all you lovely anonymous commenters, if you are feeling the need to anonymously heckle my best friend and call her names (especially the R-word which I hold near and dear to my heart) why don't you come on over to my place. theredneckmommy.com.

    Better yet, send me an email: talesfromtATyahoo.ca

    You want a chance to pick on someone?

    Come on over and see me.

    I'll give you something to pick on.

    Your own ass as I hand it to you for being such a twat.

    If you have to hide behind the veil of anonymity to drop your nastiness on a blog though, I don't really expect you to have the courage to take on someone who wants to play.

    Alicia (aka Dr. Mom) June 12, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    Good lord, some of these "anonymouses" are MEAN as heck!! WTF?? Are they not "getting" it?!?!? Im so sorry you guys needed to be exposed to all that. Totally wrong in so many ways.

    I SAW you (well, your blog) on CNN this morning!!!! I was all like "I FOLLOW her bad mother!!!" like, i actually KNOW you and was so excited that you were on tv. :) anyway – big stuff. Awesome!

    But, now ive been buzzkilled by these meanies that were commenting on this. the world is full of jerky people…

    R June 12, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    GO TANIS GO!!! woo-hoo!!

    Catherine – I sincerely hope you're ignoring the idiots who say stupid shit… seriously. Idiots.

    Anonymous June 12, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    Ayyyyy-MEN!

    I too am a 'bad' mother. I answer my kids with non-sugar coated answers, I let them watch violent TV while giving them values that will NOT enable them to copy it, I've smacked, I've sworn, I've name called, I stopped breatfeeding with #1 after 3 days and didn't even try with #2 (guess what…they have been sick maybe 4 or 5 times in a DECADE! Essential for immunity my ASS), and you know what….I don't regret any of it. I have great kids, with personalities, and values. And they know they will always get truth from me (unless I'm lying to them about the cookie I've just eaten…I do that).

    Avonlea June 12, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    "learning some self sufficience will benefit them as adults as opposed to the kids who were breastfed til 3 and who do nothing for themselves." – Anonymous, way up above

    *big sigh* Judge much? My child just turned 3, and he still breastfeeds. He's also the most active, inquisitive, outgoing, and take-charge little boy you'll meet.

    It seems that this is the kind of judgemental crap that HBM is talking about.

    Susan Getgood June 12, 2009 at 9:26 pm

    A good mother? It's a woman who parents her children in a way that is comfortable for her. That fits the way she is, not a model Good Mother. One size doesn't fit all in this either :-)

    You've got to be happy as a person, because that bleeds through to your kids more than anything else. That means finding your own parenting style.

    And letting your kids find their own kid-style too.

    That's what I try to do, and I think you do too Catherine. You can call it bad if you want, but I'm pretty damn sure it's good.

    Loralee Choate June 12, 2009 at 11:45 pm

    Some of these people in this comment section are disgusting as hell.

    The anonymous asshats of the internet can just suck it and go back to whatever cesspool they crawled out of.

    And for the (slightly) less offensive people who are TOTALLY MISSING THE POINT OF THIS POST??! Get your damn knickers out of a twist, already.

    kristeneileen June 13, 2009 at 12:14 am

    Anonymous, insulting blogtrolls DO NOT participate in a meaningful exchange of ideas. People like you, who openly admit your feelings and then engage other peoples' feelings and comments, are involved. Let those people who are such cowards roll off your back like the bullshit they are serving up – and then hiding from.

    Warmly,
    Your Twerp,
    @kristeneileen

    Kristen June 13, 2009 at 1:39 am

    THANK YOU for writing this. I stumbled on this today from MamaPop and I needed to see this tonight. I am also a bad mom. I don't even like being a mom sometimes. I also love me some Ativan. But I also love my kids like nothing else in the world.

    Good words. Thanks for sharing.

    Tangsongshan June 13, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    This was on one of my local news station's website today:

    http://www.katu.com/news/specialreports/47980891.html

    They seem to think your blog is written by Ayelet Waldman! And they are quoting her as if it was said on your blog. Be prepared for visitors asking why you spank your children and leave them in the bathtub alone.

    Amanda Hill of Shamelessly Sassy June 13, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    I started reading blog posts in 1999. In ten years, this is one of the best posts that I've read. Perhaps because I can relate to it so well.

    Binky June 13, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    This resonates with me both in the word-play way and in everday way.

    Words are made to be taken and retaken and mistaken. That's how language evolves, and how people come to common understanding. It's also through words that we feed the divide. Words are good and bad. Like mothers.

    This post appeals to me for its content and for the debate. I admire your vocabulary of philosophy. I admire, aside from linguistics, the specifics: the list of bad things. It resonates. It really does.

    The debate supports what I perceive to be the underlying premise of this post and your blog in general. Words have meaning. More than almost anything else in this world, words mean something. What keeps it turning is how we use them to define ourselves.

    Just Me June 14, 2009 at 3:43 am

    I wish someone had been brave enough to say this 9 1/2 years ago when I first had my son. I think we both would have had a much more relaxed time of it. But I applaud you. You have said everything in my heart I have never really had the guts to say except to my most close friends who feel the same way.

    D'sMommy June 14, 2009 at 10:26 am

    I read this and loved it! Some days I feel as if I'm a bad mommy and I feel guilty about it but then my son smiles or my daughter laughs and I realize I'm the best mom that I can be to them, and not the best mom someone else thinks I should be, and they're loved unconditionally and are healthy and happy and that's all that matters.

    Anonymous June 14, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    I saw your blog in a news article on CNN today! They quoted your blog and showed pictures but then showed an interview for another "bad mother." I was so confused! I knew that wasn't you nor your children in the interview. CNN needs to work on their production skills.

    http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/us/2009/06/12/am.costello.bad.parents.cnn

    Stay at Home Dad June 14, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    Sounds to me like alot of women have mental issues. I realize this new selfish parenting kick has cause seriously ill behaved children and I'm not suprised that so many bloggers have given their support to someone who can justify narcissim and selfishness. I've noticed that mothers either give whatever to their children to keep them from crying or schedule the children to death with activities, but the most important thing of talking and guiding children has completely been taken out of the picture. People with your sense of parenting believe in making yourself happy first and making your children happy is more important thant instilling discipline and respect, this sickens me and makes me fearfull for the future. But of course what do I know, after spending several years in the military I am now a stay at home dad with well behaved and well adjusted children who display good manners when no one is watching and excell in school but are not overloaded with activities. But I am not a mother, I'm a father, and have raised my children with logic, love, and understanding…maybe mothers havent quite caught up to that level of thinking yet, I've noticed most of the thought processes on here focussed through "Me First" then love etc if there is time.

    RowanMama June 14, 2009 at 10:51 pm

    Is motherhood really no different than high school popularity contest? Constantly comparing yourself to imaginary standards and reveling in the social melodrama? Because that is what you are "selling" here. You wanted/needed to pat yourself on the back for your own self-measured inadequacies to be proud of your self-created label?

    How about simply doing what is best for your own kids and quit worrying about what everyone else is doing? Wait, that would not allow you to compare yourself to others so you can live up to your cool new label of "bad". How ironic.

    Kelly June 15, 2009 at 12:52 am

    Well obviously lots of people have lots to say about your post. I'll admit I didn't read them all so this might be a repeat but so be it Bad Mother's also let their babies cry it out or don't let them cry it out and jump at a babies every whim.

    On another note, whatever you do, NEVER, EVER call yourself a Bad Mother to your children as your excuse for letting them eat cookies for breakfast or not letting them when they are begging you for one. Take it from my experience it will come back and bite you in the butt. They will tell their teacher, the pediatritian or just anyone who wants to listen. You get some crazy accusations going after that.

    Anonymous June 15, 2009 at 7:59 am

    Ok, I know I shouldn't bother, but I have to say something, even though it echoes many previous posts.

    The ONLY POINT HBM was trying to make with her manifesto is that NOBODY IS PERFECT – no matter how much your love your kids, how much time you spend with them, how much effort you put into providing them a loving, stable, well-ordered environment, you will at some time feel like you have failed or like you aren't doing something right. But it's OKAY; failing sometimes doesn't make you a bad mother, it makes you a Bad Mother (ie a HUMAN BEING, who is fallen and imperfect). Maybe some of you out there have never lost patience with your child, never worried that something you did or didn't was (or wasn't) enough. Kudos to you! It must be great to never worry that you've made a mistake! But the rest of us sometimes feel overwhelmed and guilty, particularly by strong and mixed messages we get from Society and from Judgmental Parents (hey, that might be YOU, perfect parents!). What this means is that being a good mother does NOT derive from whether you breastfeed or bottle feed, whether you work at home or in an office, whether you co-sleep or crib sleep, soothe or CIO, spank or time-out, never give sugar/processed food to your kids or occasionally let them eat ice cream or a happy meal. Sometimes people make us feel like we have "chosen wrong" on any of these issues, and more. HMB's manifesto is a way of standing up to Judgmental Jerks who think they are perfect and their style of parenting is perfect. Am I a better mother than my friend because I put my baby to sleep at 6:30 and she puts hers to sleep at 10:30? Who decides? If everybody is happy and healthy and loved then this is what matters.

    It's actually kind of nice that posters like stay-at-home-dad have written in, because he underscores PERFECTLY why we need HBM's manifesto. He's basically saying "if you don't parent exactly the way I do, and if your children aren't perfectly behaved at all times in an extremely disciplined fashion every moment, then you are a BAD MOTHER. And don't even think about doing anything for yourself ever. You aren't just a BAD MOTHER, you have MENTAL PROBLEMS and are LAZY and SELFISH, and destroying the FUTURE OF OUR NATION." (flavored with a hearty and heartening dose of misogyny since the women haven't been able to "catch up" with the men, even after being in almost sole charge of childrearing for the PAST MILLION YEARS!) (and PS SAHD – you don't actually KNOW HBM OR her children – so unless you know for a fact that they are not polite, well-behaved, happy children then you are just projecting in a deeply offensive way. And if they ARE happy, polite, delightful children, then you've got no point, really.) This is exactly the mentality that HBM is rejecting.

    My family is the most important thing in the world to me. My son is well-mannered and disciplined, because these are traits and values my husband & I take very seriously (particularly the idea that happiness does not come from self-indulgence, but from self-discipline and independence), as well as traits we MODEL. I hope he will also be compassionate and non-judgmental of other people, with the full knowledge that HE IS NOT PERFECT and neither is anybody else. To me, this is the essence of the manifesto: Do your best, and stop trying to force yourself to conform to somebody else's definition of what that means.

    (PS I know there were many posters who were troubled by HBMs manifesto and put forward some important and interesting challenges – I don't mean my response to be directed at you just for disagreeing with the idea of being Bad.)

    Kat... with a crown June 15, 2009 at 8:28 am

    Love the post!
    First time reader, and I am hooked!

    Annie @ Cookies June 15, 2009 at 8:59 am

    Ahhh…..honesty! I appreciate it and applaud you!

    Rita June 15, 2009 at 9:24 am

    I feel so much better after reading this.I thought I was a good mom I love my children more than life ,but my oldest daughter seems to think I didn't fill the good mother profile.I was beating myself up you made me fel better, I am glad I am not the only one who isn't in the good mom profile.This is one of the best posts I have ever read Thanks again

    Ms. Knitpicky June 15, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    Fuck yeah. Does anything else really need to be said?

    I've found some of the most vocal, judgemental, and aggressive pushers of the Good Mother are, in fact, men. Good Enough really is good enough.

    planetnomad June 15, 2009 at 5:35 pm

    I know I'm late with this, and I haven't read the other comments, but I just wanted to say that I LOVE how you made the "Good Mother" both spank and never spank and co sleep and never co sleep and stay at home and go to work. YES! I so don't get the "mommy wars." I think they arise from the deep insecurity of knowing that we're all making mistakes and saddling our kids with baggage in spite of all our efforts, but from a strange unwillingness to admit this. It's a way of distancing ourselves, the way when we read of some kid going to a school and shooting his classmates, we look for clues of a trouble home-life–it helps us sleep at night cuz it won't happen to us. But all the "mommywars" do is derive us of much-needed support.
    Anyway, rambling here, but I really enjoyed your post. I guess I'm a Bad Mother too–my daughter would certainly agree!

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