Let's talk about what it means to be a hot mess. It's a description of a particular kind of person — harried, overwhelmed, exhausted, confused, bumbling, discombobulated — who can't seem to find their groove or get their sh*t together. Needless to say, the idea of being a hot mess resonates with a lot of moms out there. You know what? I wear my "hot mess" badge proudly for many reasons, not least of which that there are things you're teaching your kids when you're a hot mess mom.
Plus, I think it's important for us to keep it real here; when we say "hot mess" what we should really be saying (at least what would be far more accurate) is "typical mom in the face of impossibly high social standards and cultural expectations that have never take practicality into account that basically ensure failure in one or more arenas who has nevertheless been trained to feel personal responsible for these failures and to beat herself up about it." Phew. Wordy, yes, but very accurate and a far better representation of, you know, reality.
As such, I want to reclaim "hot mess" (I've already done it with "b*tch," "c*nt," "p*ssy," and, most recently "nasty woman," so I have some experience here). I am a hot mess mom who understands that I am going to disappoint someone. I am going to fail sometimes. However, I also know what I want for myself and my family and I'm going to work to get it. Well, most of the time I know what I want. Not all of the time. Sometimes I don't know what the hell I want and that's OK, too. After all, I'm a hot mess and, as such, here are the things me being a hot mess teaches my kids:
Trying Is Important
Some people strive to make life in general, and motherhood in particular, look effortless. Screw that: life is messy and demanding and sometimes it's downright hard. Allowing yourself to admit all this can sometimes make you look a hot mess and I think this is a good thing. Pretending the juggling act isn't taking a lot out of you serves no one. You wind up bottling up a whole lot of anxiety and then other people look to you and feel terrible about their own struggles because they assume they're the only ones going through them. When our kids see that what we do takes a lot of effort, but we try anyway, they'll be empowered to try despite difficulties because they know that's just the way it goes sometimes.
Embarrassment Is No Reason To Quit
All moms (I mean, all humans, really) fail sometimes. The difference with hot mess moms is that they fail flamboyantly and fabulously and after they tumble off the metaphorical horse, they hop up, mutter some choice expletives, and carry on. They don't abandon what they were doing and slink away to lick their wounds. They don't pretend they didn't fall and try to gaslight you into forgetting about it. They just accept it and move on. Learning how not to be defeated by your mistakes or take them too much to heart is a lesson all children should learn, as early as possible.
Over-Commitment Is Actually The Opposite Of Commitment
Hot mess moms can teach this lesson one of two ways:
1) By knowing, accepting, and proclaiming her limits and not signing up for every Little League coaching gig, PTA fundraiser, church picnic, and charity 5K that comes her way or;
2) By not knowing her limits, attempting too many things at once and serving as a cautionary tale as she flounders in a tumultuous sea of obligations.
Either way the kids are learning something important, so go you, hot mess mom.
Sandwiches Don't Need To Be Star-Shaped And Posted On Social Media To Be Delicious
Look. Those bento box lunches with beautifully arranged fruits and veggies and origami sandwiches or whatever? They're adorable. I'm not saying they're not, and if it makes someone happy to prepare and photograph them, then awesome. Cool.
However, some people see these pictures and feel pressure to emulate them. I am not one of those people. Someone else's talents are not a challenge or an indictment of the fact that you do not give a crap about the presentation of your preschooler's lunch. My kid gets a hastily thrown together assortment of foods tossed in his lunchbox every day and while he probably doesn't think much of the aesthetics of his container of apple sauce, he knows it tastes pretty damn good.
Coiffed Hair And Makeup Are Not Part Of A Required Uniform
A hot mess mom does not do her hair every morning. She does not "have to put her face on" before leaving the house. Her face is already securely attached to her skull. Her hair is very likely in a top knot or a ponytail because with a bit of pluck and a top knot a woman can accomplish anything.
Honestly, there's nothing "hot mess" about being seen with an unpainted face or hair as it grows off your head. Unfortunately, too many have internalized the idea that women owe it to the world to look a particular way and if they don't they're "a mess" or have to apologize for themselves. As long as that the case, I'll just unabashedly own the fact that if that makes me a hot mess then I'll happily take the title and screw anyone who has a problem with it. (And I certainly hope my kids pay attention to that attitude.)
It's OK To Own The Hotness Of Your Mess
Revel in it, ladies. Take delight in how not together you are sometimes. It's important to have a sense of humor about yourself. That's not to say one shouldn't demand to be taken seriously, but a little bit of humility goes a long way in helping one cope with a world full of serious crap. Be able to see your own shortcomings and not only be okay with it but laugh as you try to improve is something I strive to instill in my children.
Judgment Should Be Reserved For The Perfect And No One Is Perfect
Seriously, does anyone have time for this condescending hypocrisy anymore? Haven't we learned by now? We talk about not throwing stones a whole hell of a lot but I feel like I'm getting hit in the head with several a week, at least. Hot mess moms have learned to let go of judgments: let's all take a lesson from those bold pioneers and just chill, guys.
You Don't Need To Be An Accomplished Rapper To Belt Out Songs From 'Hamilton'
For real, guys: I need my children to know they can and should sing their hearts out when "My Shot" comes on, and the only way I can do that is to model the behavior. Am I a decent rapper? Let me put it this way: I was raised in rural Connecticut and didn't hear a Biggie album until I was in my mid-20s. But I cannot let my own deficiencies hold me back from teaching my children that early-American history is best celebrated through rap battles and fast-paced musical numbers, even if I am at the hottest level of mess possible while doing it myself. Seriously, have you ever seen a 2-year-old cry out. "Everyone give it up for America's favorite fighting Frenchman"? It's amazing and it's worth looking like an idiot.
It's OK If Your Priorities Are Not What Someone Else Would Choose For You
Everyone has their own expectations of you, and one person's requests or demands are going to be in conflict with someone else's. Hot mess moms get that, and so they either strategically decide what is most important to her and her family and accept that some people are going to be disappointed, or they ill-advisedly try to do it all, fail in their glorious hot mess mom fashion, and once again teach their children about the importance of priorities via cautionary tale. Either way, it's OK, because everyone learns important lessons and, as we established, hot mess moms are totally fine realizing again and again that they're not perfect. It's OK because no one is.
Sometimes You Have To Treat Yo' Self
Put on the yoga pants, crack open some wine, and zone out on your cell phone for a bit, hot mess mom.
Oh. Wait. You already do that on the regular: because you get it. You get that you need time to decompress and unwind. Good for you, and good for your kids who will benefit from your fine example.