It’s my favorite hashtag. It’s all-encompassing. It tells the whole story. Late for gymnastics? Hot mess. Burned grilled cheese for dinner? Hot mess. Leaky milk boobs at church? HOT MESS.

It’s easy. It requires no further explanation. And thank God for that, because honestly, do we even have time or energy to explain? 

#hotmessmom means solidarity. It means we are all in this together. No judgment. We are all a hot mess—some just hide it better than others, right? It sure makes me feel better as I brush my unwashed hair out of my face, scrub poop off the bathroom floor, and hear the doorbell ring because oops! I forgot. The neighbor said she was going to stop by for coffee.

But you know what? I don’t know if it’s actually true. I think that maybe, just maybe, we actually aren’t hot messes after all. It’s all a facade. To cover up any imperfections that may arise. To allow for our inevitable tardiness because the two-year-old zips her own coat now AND does her own buckle! Yaaaay. #hotmessmom explains the laundry piles and our children’s overgrown fingernails and feeding our kids fast food three nights in a row. Even though everyone else also has had laundry piles and kids with overgrown fingernails and the dilemma of needing a quick dinner on the fly. Coining the hot mess hashtag helps us face the reality that, despite the completely unachievable expectations we put on ourselves, we are, in fact, not perfect. 

So why do we self-deprecate? If we are all a little bit of a hot mess? Doesn’t that make us just . . . moms? Moms who are insanely busy from the break of dawn until we pass out on the couch desperately clinging to those last few minutes of grown-up alone time. Moms who start off the day with such optimism, such promise—to-do list in hand, thinking we will actually get it all done this time. Moms who WILL fit in to those jeans again if it kills us, but who often shovel down the last of the chicken nuggets and fries their kids didn’t finish as we run out the door to soccer practice. 

Case in point—this past Sunday, I completed the following: woke up the entire family and got everyone prettied up for church (myself included!), grocery shopped, cooked a Whole30 meatloaf with roasted veggies, cleaned the kitchen after cooking said meatloaf dinner, did homework with each child, washed 763 loads of laundry (probably an exaggeration, but not by much), sorted and put away a mound of tiny LEGOS, shoveled five inches of snow off of my driveway, wrote two articles, drank a beer, and watched some Food Network.


In the midst of all of that ass-kickery, I dropped a brand-new, full glass milk bottle on my kitchen floor. I shrieked in horror as milk and shattered glass went everywhere, including under the refrigerator, which then had to be pulled out and mopped behind. And the towels used to sop it all up STILL smell like milk after two washes, so they will likely be tossed.

Talk about a #hotmess moment.

But what about the other 15 hours I totally had my you-know-what together? (OK, fine. I had it together like 11 of those hours, probably, but still.)

I actually think most moms I know are bad-ass and run their ships like a boss. Myself included.

So you know what? I’m going to continue to call myself a #hotmessmom whenever I feel like it. Like when I forget it’s picture day and send my son to school in old sweatpants with spaghetti stains on them. Because I like to laugh about motherhood and find sisterhood in sharing if I screw up. Which I do. We all do. 

But while I say we keep the #hotmessmom hashtag, we should also consider the whole picture. We need to look back at our day. Our week. Make a list of everything we did. How our households ran from morning until night because of us. When we do, I bet we’ll see we were far more #bosslady than #hotmess, and for that, we should be proud.

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Karen Johnson

Karen Johnson is a freelance writer who is known on social media as The 21st Century SAHM. She is an assistant editor at Sammiches and Psych Meds, staff writer and social media manager for Scary Mommy, and is the author of I Brushed My Hair Today, A Mom Journal for Mostly Together Moms. Follow Karen on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/21stcenturysahm/, Twitter https://twitter.com/21stcenturysahm , and Instagram https://www.instagram.com/the21stcenturysahm/