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Comedian to moms: Be more like 'traditional mothers'

This one goes out to any who feels like they're failing this summer.
In a viral video, comedian Jen Fulwiler explains why it's harder to be a "traditional mom" than one would think.
In a viral video, comedian Jen Fulwiler explains why it's harder to be a "traditional mom" than one would think.George Marks / Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

There's an important message about what it means to be a "traditional mom" going viral, and it's a whole summer vibe.

Comedian and SiriusXM host Jen Fulwiler says she's fed up with messages on social media encouraging moms to do more for their kids and be better mothers by spending lots of time entertaining their children.

The mom of six, who is traveling the country on a comedy tour called Minivan Fabulous, says when her children were younger, she had "three kids in diapers at a time" for several years. Now that they're a bit older, ages 8 to 16, she sees that her mental health suffered during those years because of the expectations she felt were placed on her by society.

"I spent so much time feeling like I was failing," Fulwhite, whose comedy special, "The Naughty Corner," is streaming on Amazon Prime, told TODAY Parents. "I would see references on the internet to how 'good' mothers were supposed to do things, and I could never measure up to those standards."

In a viral Facebook video with over 600,000 views, Fulwiler tells moms it's time they "be good mothers this summer and spend more time with their children, the traditional way."

She then outlines what that looks like.

"For most of human history, survival was a mom's full-time job," she says, explaining that activities like gathering water, cooking three meals a day and doing laundry by hand were what occupied a traditional mom's day.

"Without electricity, this all had to be done during daylight hours," she continues. "There's no historical precedent for moms being the primary entertainer of their kids. Maybe traditional moms pin clothes on clotheslines and maybe you pin clothes on Pinterest, either way, it's natural and normal for a woman to have a lot of her daily focus on something other than entertaining her kids."

Fulwiler says she got the idea for the sketch after thinking back to historical anthropology classes she took in college and conversations she had with people of her grandfather's generation.

"I realized that the way moms are told to parent today is totally unnatural in human history," she said. "People who say that mothers need to spend all day every day entertaining their kids are asking women to do something that has never been done by moms of any other generation. I knew that at least a few women out there are going to feel like they're failing this summer because they can't live up to these insane expectations."

Fulwiler uses comedy as a way to process her own feelings about motherhood and to connect with other moms who feel the same way she does.

"On the one hand, they know they're fortunate to have critical modern conveniences like dishwashers and pre-made margarita mix," she said. "What they don't realize is that it is very psychologically difficult to raise kids in today's world where we don't have the support systems that women have traditionally had. I always tell moms: 'If this feels hard, it's not because you're doing something wrong — it's because you're trying to raise children under very unnatural circumstances.'"

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