Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Ayelet Waldman on The Bad-Mommy Brigade

When all of us are at risk of being called Bad Moms at one moment or another, what is the visceral tug that lets us jump to attention to points fingers at troubled Moms like Britney Spears?

Ayelet Waldman brilliantly addresses that question in a new New York Magazine piece, The Bad-Mommy Brigade. I started looking for one paragraph to quote and found that I wanted to include four. That seems like way too much, so I will encourage you to read the original piece in the entirety.

Waldman starts off with an honest look at our own fears and regrets as Moms, the resulting guilt and shame we feel, and then the outlet we find in judging another mother as failing even worse than we are:

"One way to find consolation in the face of all this failure and guilt is to judge ourselves not against the impossible standard of the Good Mother but against the fun-house-mirror-image Bad Mother. By defining for us the kind of mother we’re not, the Bad Mother makes it easier for us to live with what we are. We may be discontented and irritable, we may snap after the 67th knock-knock joke, our kids may watch three hours of television a day, we may have just celebrated the second anniversary of the last time we had sex, we may have forgotten to pack a snack, or, God forbid, bought one replete with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, we may yank on our daughters’ ponytails while we’re combing their hair, but at least we’re not Britney Spears."

For the record, when I was called by MomLogic.com, asking my opinion about Britney's situation, I did my best to look beyond the Bad Mommy stereotype. I said, "Britney's burnout is basically the supernova of Mom burnouts, but we all burn out at one point or another. She's having a very public breakdown, but I think all of us can relate on a tiny level. I'd love all of us Moms to send her a little compassion, because she really needs that right now."

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