Every year, my son has come up with a costume that can’t be purchased in a store but requires me to create. My husband likes to join in by converting the wagon into an accessory that matches his costume. The first year we started doing this, he decided he wanted to be a garbage man with a working garbage truck. Last year, he was a gold miner, with a mining cart and an adorable gold nugget: his sister was dressed in gold from head to toe. Not to brag, but it won second prize at the townwide Halloween bonfire judging.
I love the creativity and imagination that accompanies Halloween. But there was one costume that made me feel a bit uncomfortable. I usually do not get triggered like this and can take a good joke, but this costume hit too close to home for me. This costume is “Tired Mom.”
I get it. It’s funny, it’s cute, and the girl who created the costume is adorable as a new tired mom. She’s also one of nine children, so I am sure her mother is beyond exhausted and has been a good model of a “Tired Mom”. The costume is completely relatable, especially to all moms who are in the thick of raising tiny humans. She has Cheerios in her hair, which is up in a big messy bun, makeup smeared under her eyes (perhaps from crying or sleeping with it on?) and she’s armed with a venti Starbucks cup in her hand, Target bag and a toddler on her leg. She nails it.
But for me, the costume triggered a response in me that I was unprepared for. I was upset that people were laughing at this version of a “tired mom,” mostly because most days I feel like that tired mom. Most days I feel like I am barely surviving, moving from one crisis to the next: filling juice cups, neglecting my own basic needs (shower, sleep, etc…), getting snacks, kissing boo-boos. My hair is typically unbrushed and I am usually rocking yoga pants and a large coffee in hand.
While I know Halloween costumes are meant for a good laugh or perhaps even a good scare, I am still a bit upset that this costume has gone viral. Remember a few months ago, when a costume store released the Super Mom Costume and we were all were outraged? People were outraged because they felt it depicted one version of a mother- the perfect, multi-tasking, stay at home, rockstar mom. The costume catered to a stereotypical “super mom,” providing support for her family through cleaning, making coffee, and taking care of all things.
While I am not exactly enraged at this version of an extremely tired, hot mess of a mother, I do feel bad for those mothers who look at this and see themselves (myself included). We all have good and bad days, but to a struggling mother, they see this and they could feel like they are being mocked. Like they aren’t good enough, like they aren’t trying enough, and like it’s funny because it’s true. It’s funny because everyone knows someone like this (maybe not this extreme, but definitely someone who at one time or another, had food in their hair and breastmilk pads sticking out of their bra).
Let me just say this: there is nothing wrong with being a hot mess mom. I pride myself on being one most days. I like to believe that I am just being uber real. It’s the hardest job in the world, that of being a mother. By being real with the world about my struggles, I believe that it will allow others to not pressure themselves into being that perfect Super Mom, that we’ve idealized in our heads.
But it’s also concerning that the contrast of what it means to be a mother is based on two extremes: Super Mom and Hot Mess Mom. Where are the moms who rock it one day and have an utter meltdown at Target when all three of their children are screaming? I guess that might be too real because I believe that this is most mothers. No one is rocking a perfect motherhood. Hot Mess Mom has good days too, where she thinks she can take on the world. But I guess Normal Mom isn’t much of a costume, now is it?
Regardless of its reality, the costume is meant to be funny. And all mothers out there should celebrate the type of mother they are. It’s okay to be a mess one day and a Pinterest Mom the next. It’s okay to have awful weeks that go on for what feels like years and then have a streak of months, where things have settled down. All moms are Super Moms, this depiction of “Tired Mom” is a super mom too, she’s just handling things in a different way.
But I say be proud of the mother that you are, show off the chaotic side of mother, while creating a Pinterest worthy costume. Motherhood is hard, but we shouldn’t settle for being depicted as anything other than AMAZING mothers.