I am a bad mother. Ask anyone. I continually favor one kid over another, I never let any of them do anything fun, I don’t know anything, and I am mean and grossly unfair – always.
At least, this is what my children tell me.
They have mentioned, more than once, that, if I could go away their lives would be perfect (I wish), that they would live happily ever after (works for me), and that the adult therapy I have assured them they will need, will not be necessary (doubtful).
Like most bad mothers, I take their insults with a grain of salt. I can even go toe to toe with them on the mouthy thing. When told they can’t wait until they’re eighteen, I tell them I can’t wait even more. When one of them mentions I favor the other, I say you’re absolutely right – he’s always been my favorite. It just rolls off my tongue.
Sad, but true
A quick insight: I have been a mother for almost 30 years – and I still have 10 left to go. If and when Sam ever leaves, I will have had children in my house for 40 years and will have gone from being a teenager to, basically, retirement. Yeah, that hurts alright.
So, I consider myself somewhat of an expert in the field of parenthood. Maybe not a good expert, but at least an experienced one.
Here are a couple examples of my parenting skills. Feel free to use at anytime. (Disclaimer – I cannot guarantee that children will not be mentally harmed by my advice – use at your own risk).
Kid: Sarah always gets candy in her lunch.
Me: That’s because Sarah’s mother still thinks cigarettes can’t hurt you.
Kid: Joe got a car on his 16th birthday.
Me: Joe’s parents must really love him.
Kid: Bill’s mom always lets him do whatever he wants.
Me: Bill’s mom is in rehab.
They’ll get you every time
Now, every once in a while things can backfire. When 11 year-old Gracie told me she was tired of playing the flute and I told her she had to finish her commitment, she accidentally beat the $300 instrument against a cement block until it was mangled and then explained to me that it fell.
When 5 year-old Marcus decided being grounded in his room constituted an emergency and called 911, it took some explaining before the police realized he had not been locked in his room forever and needed food and water.
When 6 year-old Sam wanted to run away and I helped him pack his bags, I thought I was using reverse psychology. But when I got a call from a store 2 miles away (they had caught him shoplifting a candy bar) and they asked me to please pick up my young son, I had egg on my face.
You just can’t win
It’s a fine line, isn’t it? Frankly, I feel somewhat put out that spanking went out of style just when I became a mother. It was a lot easier for my parents, they didn’t need anything more than a “Because I said so and if you ask me again I’ll tan your hide.” It obviously worked – I saved all my insults and tough talk for when they left the room and did whatever they told me not to, anyway. I just did it behind their back.
My generation has been forced to resort to explanations and understanding. This works fine for the first 100 times you say, “But I am not Susie’s mother. If I was, she wouldn’t get a cell phone for her eighth birthday.” And then you explain, again, how important it is for her to grow up slowly, that there will be plenty of time in the future for her to spend $400 on a monthly cell phone bill.
How much can I take?
But throw me a bone here – we’re only human, right? You can’t keep up that pace. How many times can you hear “That’s not fair!” before you answer, “Well, guess what? Life’s not fair. Get used to it.” And you leave it at that.
And now, they’re getting even younger. I swear I saw a two-year old scolding his mother for not letting him get a cookie. “Bad mommy,” he screamed as he stomped his feet. When the harried mother glared at me as I pushed my cart past, I had to remind her that I was on her side. She needed to focus her rage where it was intended – at the toddler, not at me. I actually enjoy watching other people’s children being punished. It makes me feel like I’m part of the club . . . The Bad Mother’s Club.
I like the sound of that. It sounds edgy and dangerous. Mutha . . .yeah, I’m one bad mutha. Don’t mess with me, I’ll ground you so fast it’ll make your head spin. Hah!
When I mentioned to my husband, Craig, that I was starting a Bad Mutha Club he asked why it couldn’t be a Bad Parent’s Club and be open to all parents, no matter their gender.
Well, for one thing, “Bad Parent’s Club” doesn’t have the same vibe to it as “Bad Mutha Club” and secondly, I can’t always do everything for him. If he wants a club, he’s free to start one – but, this was my idea and I can’t have him always latching on to my coattails. He has to grow up sometime.