People Are Criticizing This Mom For A Photo Of Her Messy Car, Totally Proving Her Point

Ad failed to load

I'll admit that I've never been the world's most neat and tidy human, but now that I'm a mom of 4-year-old twins? The truth is that I'm still trying to get a grip on the endless piles of laundry, scattered toys and dirty dishes that seem to appear out of nowhere. As for my car, well, somehow it always ends up looking like I might actually live in it. So when blogger and mom-of-three Nikki Pennington recently gave a Facebook shout-out to "hot mess school moms," it spoke right to my heart. This mom's post about her messy car was so relatable, and totally validating for anyone who feels like they're falling short because their kids are slobs. But a quick glance at the comments section shows that, as much as people appreciated her words, unfortunately not everyone was here for what she had to say.

Pennington is definitely no stranger to opening up online about her experience as a mom and wife, and it's clear that many on social media value and appreciate her perspective. An earlier post she wrote in which she shared her "secret" to a lasting marriage quickly went viral, and earned her major props for her honesty and down-to-earth message. But when it came to opening up about the less-than-perfect side of motherhood that many women experience but often don't talk about, the reaction was mixed: while many people appreciated her willingness to admit something that they often feel like they're supposed to hide, others came out swinging with some pretty harsh mom-judgment.

Ad failed to load

Pennington first shared the post on her Facebook page, before it was picked up by the popular page, Love What Matters, where it has earned thousands of likes and shares. In it, Pennington shared a photo of her not-so-neat vehicle, complete with half-empty soda cans in the cup holders, and empty wrappers and plastic water bottles on the passenger side floor. In the caption, she spoke directly to all moms whose cars look just like her's — the moms who drop their kids off at school only to have "yesterday morning's breakfast wrapper [roll] out with them," and "the moms that haven't been able to find the floor board of their vehicles since Aug. 1 of last year." Ever found yourself discovering your kid's school paperwork when you're cleaning out your car? Pennington's been there. Still trying to track down just what that weird smell is, and where it's coming from? She's got your back.

Pennington's post might be tongue-in-cheek, but her message about "messy car moms" is an important one. She wrote,

Ad failed to load
Courtesy of Nikki Pennington

As someone who knows that her currently-freshly-vacuumed-and-organized car will stay that way until approximately 10 minutes after her kids get inside, that's a mantra I can definitely appreciate. Because honestly, as much as I try to stay on top of my kids' messes — and as much as I try to teach them to stay on top of them, too — it really just feels like a losing battle. And while I think all hot mess moms know deep down that it doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things, the amount of pressure placed on parents (and mothers in particular) can make it feel like if your car is a disaster, you are somehow totally failing. I mean, if all those women on Instagram can have beautiful, pristine homes, perfectly clean and happy-looking children, and manage to look like they just stepped out of a magazine, then shouldn't I at least be able to not have a car full of cracker crumbs?

But a quick glance through the post's comments, and it's clear that, well, not everyone shares Pennington's compassion for those of us who can't quite seem to maintain a Pinterest-perfect life. While most commenters appreciated her post, others clearly felt compelled to let the world know that their cars aren't messy even though they have kids, and a number of others took issue with what they considered to be a growing trend of women speaking out in defense of hot mess millennial moms. As one commenter wrote,

Ad failed to load

Others were more understanding, but still maintained that they are not like that:

Ad failed to load

Another parent noted that messy moms aren't the only ones with happy kids (note: Pennington never said her kids were happier than kids whose mom spent more time and energy cleaning):

Ad failed to load

It's totally understandable that Pennington's post might not make sense to women who are able to juggle their family and personal responsibilities while also maintaining a spotless home. But the point really seems to be that these posts are resonating with so many people because they've tapped into something really important: the desire to move away from the pressure of living up to unfair expectations, and to just embrace and accept the fact that they really are trying their best. And even though not everyone might see it that way, it's still disappointing when that perspective get lost among commenters who think it's just glorifying people being messy.

Ad failed to load

Pennington tells Romper though that, as far as she is concerned, "when you're a mom, and you're driving your kids around all the time, your car is probably going to get messy." As for the post itself? Pennington said she ultimately wrote it as an act of mom-solidarity. She says, "I knew I wasn't the only one, and I didn’t want others to feel alone.”

Of course, it's never easy to read negative comments about yourself online, but Pennington says she was grateful to those who came out to share their own experience in a truthful way — even if it might not be something everyone can understand or relate to. She says, “I'm thankful for the people who were transparent about their own experience,” and that she hopes it was helpful to any moms who might be struggling.

Ad failed to load

Being a mother doesn't necessarily mean you have to lower your standards, or that you get to make excuses for your behavior. But it also doesn't mean that you suddenly have to become someone who never struggles or makes mistakes, or that you should become super tidy and neat if you aren't naturally that way simply because someone now calls you "Mom." Parenting, after all, is hard enough without the added pressure of feeling like there's only one way to do it right. And since there are so many more important things about being a mom than what you car or house happens to look like, Pennington's post seems like a really good reminder that it really is OK to let some things slide if you need to.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

8 Things That *Will* Go Wrong Every Time You Plan A Kid-Free Night

The last time my husband and I went out to dinner alone was… actually, I can’t remember. But I can count on one hand how many times I’ve seen a movie in a theater in the last year. Before we had children we used to go out all the time. But even with …
By Liza Wyles

These Photos Of North West Then & Now Will Take You On A Sweet Trip Down Memory Lane

When Kim Kardashian welcomed her first daughter, North West, with her husband, Kanye West, in 2013, her whole life was changed. The social media and reality TV star became a mom for the first time and her Instagram presence took a very adorable turn.…
By Casey Suglia

11 Photos You *Must* Take During The Last Days Of Your Pregnancy

During my first pregnancy, I took a photo each week to document my growing belly. I stopped around 36 weeks, though. I hated how I looked in those pictures, and didn't think I'd want to relive those moments. I was wrong. My second pregnancy was a dum…
By Steph Montgomery

This Is What It Means If Your Pregnancy Test Changes Overnight

The time between when a woman suspects she might be pregnant and when it is confirmed for sure is the longest of her life. Regardless of whether you are hoping for a positive or a negative result, the odds are good that you are sweating bullets when …
By Shannon Evans

6 Red Flags To Definitely Look Out For After Your Baby Falls

The first time my infant son tried to take a few steps, he tumbled and bumped his head on the coffee table. My blood turned to ice in my veins and I froze. There truly isn't anything quite like the feeling a parent gets when their little one gets hur…
By Sarah Bunton

These 9 Instant Pot Recipes Will Make Even The Pickiest Eater Happy At The Table

Like any parent, I've had my share of parenting hits and misses, but one of my favorite "wins" is my daughter's diverse palate. I don't even know if I can take credit for it, but I would like to think I had something to do with her love for lentils, …
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

Turns Out, Kim Kardashian's Favorite Mom Products Look A Lot Like Your Own Faves

Being a mom is really hard work, especially for the first few months, and Kim Kardashian West is no different in that regard. Now the mother of three, Kardashian says that there are a few products she just can't live without when it comes to raising …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

Soda Might Hurt Your Fertility, Study Says, & Here's What You Can Do

Who doesn't love sugary drinks? I stopped drinking soda years ago, but I still love gulping down those fancy Starbucks coffee beverages. I don't have a big sweet tooth, but I am a sucker for sugar-sweetened beverages every now-and-then. Turns out, th…
By Annamarya Scaccia

10 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 30s

If you're like me, you evaluate the pros and cons of any major life decision. When my husband and I were considering starting a family, I thought about my career, education, and financial stability. I wanted to know how a pregnancy and childbirth wou…
By Steph Montgomery

This Woman Thought She Had An Eyelash Stuck In Her Eye. Then It Moved.

I'm not a person who is easily icked out. As a kid, I collected bugs and thought I was going to be an entomologist and asked Santa Claus for ant farms and nets to catch bees. I'm still super curious about anything that flies and crawls, which might s…
By Karen Fratti

5 Red Flags Your Toddler Isn't Eating Enough

Toddlers are notoriously picky eaters, at least in my experience. You offer mashed potatoes, they want french fries. You give them crackers, they scream for chips. It's frustrating, to be sure, but it's usually their way of vying for independence. It…
By Candace Ganger

11 Ways Your Pregnancy Will Be Different If You Have A Boy Vs A Girl

If you've been pregnant before, you might start comparing your previous pregnancies to that of your current pregnancy. A lot of things can change from pregnancy to pregnancy, based on a whole host of different factors (including how well you remember…
By Lauren Schumacker

35 Moms Share The Most Disgusting Things Their Husbands Do

I'm a human being who revels in challenges. I like when people present me with one, especially if they don't think I can meet or succeed it, and I like taking a challenge on, especially if it's unexpected. So when I aimed to uncover the most disgusti…
By Jamie Kenney

How Having Kids In Your 20s Affects You Later In Life

For parents, like myself, who had kids in their 20s, there are a number of questions that come to mind. When you're deciding what your future will look like, you'll likely consider what this means for your health, career, and more down the line. Thin…
By Tessa Shull

12 Moms Share How They Stay Healthy During Flu Season

Unfortunately, we're in the middle of the roughest flu seasons in recent memory. And we’re not totally out of the woods, either. People around the country are still getting the flu, and, sadly, some of them are having to be hospitalized due to flu-re…
By Priscilla Blossom

8 "Mistakes" I'm Glad I Made During My First Pregnancy

As an adult, I've learned you never really stop hating being told what to do. When I was pregnant I was getting instructions at every turn, from doctors, relatives, and complete strangers on the subway. I would nod and smile but then go about making …
By Liza Wyles

Study: Drinking Two Glasses Of Wine A Day Is Good For Your Mind — Here's Why

There’s more scientific proof that a daily drink or two isn't necessarily a bad thing and could have a place in an overall healthy lifestyle. A new study out of the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) in New York found that — in mice, at le…
By Tiffany Thomas

Research Says Eating Carbs Can Lead To A Healthy Pregnancy, So Bring On The Pasta

In the world of me, no food is better than bread. I know it's supposed to be pretty terrible for you, high in calories, low in protein, and full of that modern-day demon, gluten... but guys, it's really yummy. Especially warm out of the oven, when th…
By Jen McGuire

These Photos Of Prince George Then & Now Will Give You Serious Baby Fever

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their third child in Spring 2018. With all of the excitement surrounding the new baby, it's easy to forget all of the good times that have already passed. The couple's eldest is already well into the sc…
By Azure Hall

This Is, Hands Down, The *Grossest* Thing Babies Do Inside The Womb

Your baby's life in the womb may be safe and warm, but it's also kind of grody. Seriously, the whole process of growing into a human being includes more than a few icky moments along the way. But this is the grossest thing babies do inside the womb b…
By Lindsay E. Mack