WOM Blog

If Mama Ain't Happy, Ain't Nobody Happy

Author: Lauren Rogers

When I was a child, my Grandparents had a hand-painted sign hanging near their dining table, that said, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy...” I ran across this phrase on a tea towel recently in a thrift store and got stuck on the sentiment.  One, because it was nostalgic and took me back: to that table, that chair, eating corn flakes, reading those words. Two, because even as a person raised by a single-mother who would never minimize the importance of a father’s role or happiness in his family, there is a raw truth in that phrase. I believe we should heed those words, as mothers, as partners, as children, as friends, even as a society. My husband said, partially in jest, “that phrase is basically a manifesto.”


Being a mom is a confusing journey.  We hear dichotomous “truisms,” like, “Your children should come first,” and later in the same day, “Self care is imperative... remember, YOUR oxygen mask first!”  Or, “It goes so fast, soak up as much time with your kids as you can,” also, “Keep your date nights monthly, stay active in your professional and volunteer work, keep a robust peer group, and visit your other family, too. You know, the ones who put you here in the first place!”  Or, my favorite, “This is the most important job you’ll EVER have,” but, too, “Don’t take parenting SO seriously.” Exsqueeze me? Come again? I cannot follow two sets of direction for the same task, I am but one person. Still, far too often today, moms grapple with the impossible task of trying to honor such duplicities. Or, if they pick one philosophy/style of parenting, they spend much of their leftover time (which is generally meager) in self-doubt, constantly comparing themselves to those who’ve chosen another way; and ailing over how those choices could be impacting the most important people they personally have ever known, their offspring.  All of this is to say, “wanna take a stab at what self-doubt and fear-based-comparison do NOT make for?” Duh: a “happy Mama.”

But, hollerlujah, things can change!  Science tells us that happiness is a choice, and with enough choosing, just like computers, brains can be reprogrammed. Mamas can be happy, let go of self-doubt, and realize that confusing or not, their navigation of motherhood is enough. Hint: there isn’t just one way. Furthermore, their children will be fine... even great!  Additionally, support systems can stand in solidarity with these mamas. Were,“if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy,” a manifesto how can WE help?


-Tell a stranger-mom she’s knocking it out of the ballpark at random.

-Tell a mom with a newly graduated child how proud you are of them (and HER)!  

-Tell a mom of grown children the role she modeled is clearly shining through in her adult childrens’ successes, resiliency, or kind acts.

-Ask a new mom if you can do anything for her.  Anything!

-Don’t engage in Mommy wars!  

-Don’t other moms who are different than you, your mother, your partner, etc.  

-Solidarity! We are all doing our best.

In reality, we want the manifesto to be a sort of reversal. We want happy (fulfilled or thriving) to be contagious because Mama IS happy (fulfilled or thriving). Think of a happy mom, a happy grandma, a child of a happy mom, a partner to a happy mom. Didn’t that mom impact their realities?  If the happiness of mamas could be multiplied exponentially, the positive impact on those around them would, too. Let’s harness that potential and watch how Mamas change the world!

About the Author:

Lauren Rogers is an administrator at a small, private preschool in Austin, Texas. She graduated from the University of Texas in 2012. Lauren is a wife and okay mom to three children, ages 11 to 16 months, and three pets. She has been on the World’s Okayest Mom board since 2015 and is a bibliophile, list maker, and Frasier addict.  She also enjoys writing and putting her hands to work for others.