In a lot of ways, parenting hasn't changed much over the last couple of decades; many moms and dads still spend plenty of time worrying over their kids' well-being and hoping they grow up in happy, healthy ways. Yet thanks to the introduction of everything from Skype calls to iPhone check-ins, raising a child has become a lot more connected; for the first time, today's parents are able to communicate with each other to ask questions, start discussions, and figure out problems faster and easier than ever before, something that the cast of the upcoming comedy Bad Moms tells me they don't take for granted.
"Nowadays, if sh*t’s going wrong, I call my best friend. I’m like, 'I don’t know, this color is coming out of her nose, and I’m pretty sure she’s dying,'" says mom-of-one Mila Kunis, speaking on Bad Moms' New Orleans set. "And it’s OK to do that now, but I don’t know if it necessarily was OK before."
Adds co-star Kristen Bell, a mother of two: "We all feel less then, we all feel frazzled, we all feel overworked and terrified we’re messing up our humans. But that’s the beauty of this entire movie, it’s unifying. It’s like moms in solidarity."
Bad Moms, out July 29, certainly doesn't shy away from show the reality — the messy, confusing, and all-together complicated reality — of being a parent in 2016. Starring Kunis, Bell, and Kathryn Hahn as three suburban moms who band together on a quest to defy the stifling expectations of motherhood and embrace their independence, the movie will surely resonate with mothers and fathers everywhere dealing with the pressures of parenthood. All three of its lead actors are moms (Kunis to one-year-old Wyatt, Bell to three-year old Lincoln and one-year old Delta, and Hahn to nine-year-old Leonard and six-year-old Mae), and they all tell me how hard it can be to raise a child, even with today's assistance.
"There are some days where you think, if they’re breathing at the end of the day, you’ve done OK," says Hahn. "That’s the best you can do. It’s the most out of control feeling you could possibly have."
And outside pressures, both from books and fellow moms, certainly don't calm anyone's fears, says Bell. "The vast majority of people who are judging are just fearful and insecure," the actor says. Hahn, meanwhile, says it's crucial not to put too much stock into how other parents raise their kids, as it's only going to lead to insecurities. Says the actor, "I used to take it very much to heart... I always felt like I had toothpaste drooling down, and I couldn’t believe the moms that would show up with not only their hair and makeup perfect, but the children, with their hair brushed, with a clip in it that the kid doesn’t rip out. I was in awe of that."
"But who cares?" she quickly adds. "You find your tribe. And you stick with them."
Support from loved ones certainly helps; although all three women joke that they resort to "drugs" and "lots of alcohol" when dealing with parenting stress, they point out that having a partner who plays an equal role in raising a child makes an enormous difference. Kunis, who is married to Ashton Kutcher, says that her "amazing husband" is key to not getting too overwhelmed, while Bell credits a routine she's established with husband Dax Shepard with keeping things A-OK.
"My husband and I tap out and take mini meditative breaks because we have two toddlers. They’re so f*cking loud," Bell says with a laugh. "We keep an eye on each other, like, 'oh you take a break, I’ll take over.' We step in. When you’re in the ring, you got to tap out with your partner."
Everyone has a different way of handling the chaos of parenting, and no one option is best; "however your gut is telling you to do it, that’s what’s right," Bell says. But all three stars agree that one thing that does work for every parent is remembering that when it comes to raising a child, everyone is dealing with their own challenges, something Bad Moms makes all too clear.
"The great thing about this movie, it’s a reminder we’re all on the same team," says Bell. "As women, as moms, as friends."
Adds Kunis, "This movie kind of brings light to that... I think people like to know they’re not alone."
After Bad Moms hits theaters, it's hard to imagine any parent out there not feeling even the slightest relief that they're far from the only ones dealing with the insanity of raising a kid.