Mommy cliches

As they say, a cliche is a cliche because it’s rooted in truth. The phrases roll off our tongues freely because they’re (Exhibit A) lit-er-ally a part of the modern American vernacular. 

But don’t you get tired of what’s commonly said about you, Mama?

I do. 

Let’s start with wine 

In the last five years or so, wine has unfortunately become the patron saint of motherhood. 

Members of our tribe claim to hide it in odd places around the home, put it in personal sippy cups at the park and white-knuckle it ‘til 5 o’ clock, when they can pour an actual big girl glass.

It’s 5 o' clock somewhere. (Exhibit B).

But let’s face it: The typical mommy-wine joke meets at least five of the criteria for alcoholism. Should we be glorifying wine-meets-motherhood like this? Nope.

Then there’s the word “overshare” and its cousin “TMI.” (Exhibits C and D) — and the Facebook offenses that make them possible:

  • It’s a ____ kind of a day. You can fill in that blank with “mac and cheese” or “Ewan McGregor marathon” and I still don’t care. Mama, you’re better than this!
  • #bestever and “10 years ago today, I made the best decision of my life …” Could we (with a straight face) lavish praise upon the actual parents, siblings, children and spouses — whom we’ve decided to so smugly sanctify on Facebook — like, in person? 
  • This. Steadily gaining momentum as an emphasizer, it comes off as smug. 

Beyond yoga pants

I say all this knowing that I’ve hastily used most — if not all — of these cliches.

Personally? I do like yoga pants. I think they’ve come a long way. I obnoxiously proclaim (Exhibit E) that I actually do yoga in them, thank you very much.

And then I dress them up with some Simply Vera-brand earrings from Kohl’s (F) and go on a “much needed date night” (G) with my “hubby” (H) and selfie the crap out of the evening. #Blessed. 

I can’t get into reading mommy bloggers, but I do suggest taking a stand against the term itself, which only perpetuates the stereotype — and is possibly a gateway drug to all of these things we’ve supposedly become, when really, we’re a million things more. 

Who am I (besides a mom)?

I am — in addition to a parenting columnist who has totally made a lazy-mom/wine reference or two — a controlled and exacting emotional tornado capable of making your face melt with the force of my feelings, and a Harry Potter devotee. 

I am divorced and rebuilt. OK Go was my favorite band before the viral videos and I’ve lived in Los Angeles, Boston, Sicily, Chesapeake and Poughkeepsie. 

I breastfed forever and loved it. I’ve helped women stop breastfeeding because they didn’t love it. I’ve saved a life. 

My parents are world-champion bridge players. My twenties were WAY more like the TV series Girls than is comfortable to admit. And I think. Huge, winding, complicated thoughts. Constantly.

Needlessly defensive

The moms who walk beside me are more than boxed merlot, Shonda Rhimes and yoga pants, too.

They’re midwives and mountain climbers, artists and historians. Triathletes. “In the trenches” (Exhibit I) stay-at-home-moms with intention and intelligence and who, if you ask me, are too defensive about a damn good choice.

Toddler Mama, this discussion is for YOU in particular — fresh out of the baby haze (J) and fumbling with your identity. 

It’s not that I deny the cliches, shame the cliches or even completely avoid them myself. I just think more of you, Mama. 

And I want you to think more of you, too.

Jen Wittes is a freelance writer and mother of two who lives in St. Paul. Reach out to her at or