Last night I totally indulged in a “bad mom” moment. While I sent my young man upstairs to take a shower before bedtime I sat down in front of the TV – just to give myself a few minutes to decompress, you understand. The only thing that was remotely interesting to watch was the movie Bad Moms. Go figure. Like I said, this was totally unplanned and only meant to be for a few minutes while he showered, but after a few pauses (get child out of shower and ready for bed, complete all steps of bedtime routine including sensory massage to help settle his mind and body, feed myself) I did manage to get through the entire movie. Isn’t it amazing how quickly an hour and a half can fly when you’re wasting time? Later on, when my mental capacity was fully re-engaged, I found myself reflecting on the substance of the storyline.
My first observation is that a big reason why the movie was such a hit is because it validates the experiences of so many working moms out there, married or not. We all suffer under this massive pressure to juggle a multitude of balls (literally and figuratively) without ever letting a single one drop. Firstly, because we feel like we can’t ever be seen to be incapable of having and doing it all. After all, isn’t that what the decades long feminist movement was all about? And, secondly, who will be there to pick up the pieces when and if something does fall apart? There are quite a few things that resonated with me personally. Holding down a demanding job, one that is supposed to enhance you professionally, fulfil emotionally and stimulate you intellectually. All of this accomplished seemingly with minimal effort. Being surrounded by demanding people who, for different reasons cannot empathize with our varied competing priorities and commitments. The boss who expects you to show up to work at 8am sharp, for example, or else. But your kids’ school also starts at 8 and so you’re forced to drop them off at least an hour early so that you can make it to work on time. Speaking of kids, there’s the compulsion of doing as much as you can for them, instead of letting them do it for themselves. Even though you know it’s wrong, sometimes it’s just so much easier to simply do everything yourself than drumming up the patience to use every little incident as a teaching moment. Plus, we love our kids, right? And being the nurturers that we inherently are, we want to show that love by doing things for them.
Going back to the movie’s storyline, that is precisely why all the PTA moms at this school ultimately defect to Amy Mitchell as their new president. For six long years they have been suffering quietly (including Amy herself) under the tyrannic rule of Gwendolyn. She has dominated by enforcing her will, calling meetings willy-nilly that last for hours and where hers is the only voice that is heard and manipulating the rest of the school body, including teachers, students and even the principle to get things done her way. She even has a force of PTA police to monitor all the ingredients used for a bake sale to make sure that everyone complies to her no BPA, no gluten, no soy, no nuts rule. It is only when Amy has had enough of this and all the other pressures in her life and she finally stages a one woman rebellion do the other mothers find the courage to also defy Gwendolyn. Amy’s speaking up allowed the other mothers to freely and openly air their own insecurities and inadequacies. It turns out that one of them is not even a mother, but likes to attend PTA meetings at different schools because she’s lonely.
Something else that I observed while watching this movie were the very obvious cliques that exist in this school environment – that’s amongst parents, not the students. There’s Gwendolyn and her upper crust friends, Amy’s crew who are barely holding it together as women and mothers and a whole myriad of others in between. So, you’re either in with the cool crowd who also happen to rule, even if you’re just a follower, or you’re an outright outcast who’s existence is not worth much. As juvenile as this tendency might be, the reality is that it’s not too far removed from how adults behave in the real world. And so it would seem that in some ways, we grow up, just to continue to replicate some of the bad ways of our youth.
Have you seen them movie? Do you agree with my observations? Did the storyline strike a chord?