So, What is a Hot Mess Mom Exactly?

It’s Hot Mess week here at ParentalGrit; it you don’t know what that means, join the club. If you’ve never heard the term, then welcome to the Internet because this is clearly your first visit.Several months ago, I informally joined the parenting ranks of Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and of course blogs. While I had heard the Hot Mess term before, it wasn’t until I started connecting with thousands of mothers worldwide that I realized the Hot Mess phenomenon was in full swing. While I have seen the term mostly applied to motherhood, a few dads have also jumped on board; it’s clearly time for me (and my audience) to study Hot Mess mania and see what the hype is about. Each day this week, we’ll look into Hot Messiness (is that phrase a thing?) and how it applies to parenting. So let’s get messy. And hot. I hope I’m doing this right…

Like a seventh grade English paper, I need to start this with a definition because I really have no idea how to synthesize the concept into anything coherent—my perception of a “Hot Mess”: I know it when I see it. A cursory Google search gave me the following definition:

            A person or thing that is spectacularly unsuccessful or disordered, especially             one that is a source of peculiar fascination.

Spectacularly unsuccessful or disordered? Yeah, I think I might see why this term is trendy in parenting circles. I can’t remember a day in the last few years where I have felt remotely successful and disorder is seemingly as essential as oxygen to my body.

It makes sense that mothers across the world have embraced a moniker that encapsulates how most parents feel about themselves. Plus, it still contains the word hot so it is at least partially endearing. I would much rather call myself a hot mess than a disheveled basket case or a semi-functioning spaz, no? Plus, if I’m using it in a conversation, I can say the hot part very loudly and just softly mumble the mess out the side of my mouth. Ugly Trainwreck just doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.

While the hot messiness is an expression born of the social media age, I think its popularity has more to do with an underlying significance rather than the 2.7 million Instagram moms using #HotMess as their tag on a photo they clearly spent 3 hours getting ready for. Yeah, that single hair out of place isn’t fooling anyone Ms. Social Media Influencer. Anyway, back to the significance, I absolutely believe there’s a hidden message attached to the term that is the reason for its meteoric popularity.

What is a Hot Mess in parenting? It’s someone who is struggling to maintain sanity while raising a little human (or 2, 3, 4, etc.) and constantly feeling inadequate. That, my friends, is the reason the term has exploded. There isn’t a parent out there who isn’t operating without intense moments of overwhelm; perhaps it varies on just how much, but we’re all facing the same battles. We’re like my toddler when she hit the pool for the first time this summer: arms and legs flailing in all directions while simultaneously screaming in both fear and delight. The hot mess struggle is real.

Parenting has changed so much over the last few decades and, while that is definitely a thought best reserved for a future series of posts, it absolutely coincides with the hot mess philosophy. Nearly 70% of all two-parent families are dual-income households where both parents work. Single parenting has risen consistently over the years. Hours spent at work are increasing. Children’s sports and activities went from six weeks here and there to a 12-month circuit of competition, often involving travel. Cell phones and Netflix have invaded our free time. The list goes on and on and on, but I assume you get the gist: more and more time is being committed all across the board. To raise a family, more and more needs accomplished in less time. There is, however, still only 24 hours in a day.

Life moves way too quickly in modern life and, to use my toddler swimming analogy, it’s all too common to feel like we’re underwater as parents. There isn’t a path around these feelings of failure and periods of distress; we survive only when we can pause for a moment, laugh at our impossible circumstances, and plow through regardless. I think that’s really what the hot mess term is all about: enjoying the whirlwind of parenting even when things aren’t in order. So power up moms and dads, we’re going to have a fun week laughing about the struggles of the #hotmess life. If you’re new to ParentalGrit, I post new entries FIVE DAYS A WEEK, so please come back tomorrow and continue with us on our Hot Mess journey. Thanks for visiting!

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