Erica Dickerson and Jamilah Mapp, creators of the top-ranked podcast, Good Moms Bad Choices, are dropping all their mommy gold in their new book A Good Mom’s Guide to Making Bad Choices. Designed to challenge outdated definitions of what it takes to be a good mother, Mapp and Dickerson combine their wit and humor to show how you can excel at motherhood—by embarking on a healing journey to eradicate old scripts and embracing every part of yourself, even the so-called bad parts. Along with this colorful manifesto, Dickerson and Mapp are hosting the Good Vibe Retreat in the Pacific Jungle Coast of Sayulita this July, which is an opportunity for mothers to get out of their comfort zones and day-to-day environment and get in touch with their own voices with like-minded women.
The lively duo also stresses the importance of your “mom bestie.” She's the one who understands what you’re going through and lifts you up whenever motherhood becomes overwhelming, who offers support and reminds you that you are doing just fine, even if you don’t fit the “perfect mom standard.” These two are so close, they ever share answers! Read their hilarious blended interview with EBONY below.
EBONY: How did your podcast and book come into being?
Erica Dickerson: Our friendship came to be through desperation; we first discovered each other on IG! We had mutual friends and were pregnant around the same time, and took notice because neither one of us had any other mommy friends. We made assumptions about one another because, well, that's what social media does. We weren’t searching to start a business or become a big brand, we were both new to motherhood and had no other mommy friends that could relate to our experiences. As for the podcast, we both had broken up with our child’s fathers and were on the brink of losing our s**t.
Jamilah Mapp: Erica had begun to listen to murder mystery podcasts and in a search for normalcy in the chaos of being a newly single mom, she sought out podcasts about motherhood and single motherhood, only to discover there were none for us. The ones that did exist were very white and very married; none that truly spoke to our experience. So one day in the midst of a 3-year-old's birthday party, Erica shared with me about her new Tinder dating experience and asked me to start a podcast. Looking back, these events are all very divine because this is not something that typically would have been our “normal” behavior. But, again desperation and loneliness can push you to unchartered places and sometimes for the better.
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What outdated versions of motherhood have got to go?
Dickerson and Mapp: The toxic motherhood model. The version that doesn’t allow women to be both human and mother. The version that pushes that motherhood should be self-sacrificing and that moms are superwomen 24/7. The versions that force you to fit into an unrealistic box of perfection and a lifetime of service. The one that forces you to feel like it's normal to abandon your own pleasure and happiness in order to be accepted and considered a “good mom.” The version with strict rules and hard judgments.
For Black mothers in particular, what stereotypes need to be eradicated?
Dickerson and Mapp: The struggles of motherhood are universal. However the stereotype of being a "single Black mom” has been systematically pushed in the media to cripple us and make us feel less worthy. The idea that we have to be exactly like our moms and grandmothers and sometimes stay in situations that no longer serve us is preposterous. Personalize your experience: white, Black or green. There needs to be a rebranding of motherhood and society needs to get the memo that moms have sex, moms have fun and moms deserve to have pleasure!
What are some of the issues moms need to heal from?
Dickerson and Mapp: Society needs to heal because society projects judgment and shame on moms which breeds "mom guilt." We need to heal from this unrealistic expectation that motherhood looks only one way and that mothers aren’t human and are somehow exempt from happiness, fun, exploration and sexuality.
How can moms accept that they are doing a good job right where they're at right now?
Dickerson and Mapp: Our book reminds them to not only mother their children but also mother themselves by being gentle, forgiving and patient with themselves and giving themselves grace when they may “fall short.”
What are your top tips for moms? Any specifically for the single mom?
Mapp: Find your tribe! Find friends that are honest, supportive and judgment-free, friends that you feel safe showing up as your full self with. Oftentimes, in adulthood, it’s difficult to make new friends because we find ourselves in less social settings. But we urge moms to be as bold as they would seeking a romantic partnership in seeking out their tribes.
Dickerson: Also, prioritize your pleasure and spend time really getting to know yourself and your own voice. As women (especially as mothers) we are constantly being told what we “should” and “shouldn’t “ do and how we should and shouldn’t show up: how to be a good and respectable mother, woman or wife, etc. It’s imperative we get familiar with our own needs, wants and boundaries so that we’re not confused by outside opinions over our own beliefs.
What's one mom experience that seemed dire at the moment, but you can look back on it now and laugh?
Mapp: The break up with my high school sweetheart and child's father was so daunting at the time. It almost felt like a death sentence. I felt ashamed to be a “single mom” and did everything in my power to prevent the split. It seemed like my fairy tale ending was forever ruined and that I wouldn’t ever fulfill my destiny of being a wife with a happy “matching family." Looking back now, the fear I felt was projected on me by the media—being a single Black mom is almost always poorly depicted. I now know those stereotypes are just that, stereotypes. I’m so thankful for those difficult choices because they made me more resilient and aware of the power of choosing my own peace.
Dickerson: Weeks after I gave birth I peed on myself in the backseat of my car in a Target parking lot without even realizing it because I was numb from the waist down from my cesarean. I was totally unaware that this was a postpartum possibility and was blindsided and embarrassed AF. Looking back, it wasn’t the end of the world. In fact, it's laughable but had I had a warning that my body may be dysfunctional in this way post-birth, I may have been less mortified.
What's the secret to being mom besties and cultivating your own mom circle of friends?
Dickerson and Mapp: The secret to our friendship is transparency and vulnerability. Being able to take your mask off and show up as your unapologetic self is essential in finding your mom bestie and circle of friends. If your friends judge you and can’t keep it real with you, they aren’t your friends.
What can people do for moms to make their lives easier?
Dickerson and Mapp: Actually, it’s hard for moms to ask for help because the toxic motherhood stereotype perpetuates the idea that we are the sole caregivers 365 days a year and that needing help makes us inadequate. Volunteer to babysit their kids so they can have the break they deserve.