“Why do you always have to ask about my day?” is a question posed to me by a cranky 11-year old who, for now, lives in my house and calls me mom, or “mother” depending on the day.
It is an irrefutable truth about parenthood that the more you care about your children the more they’ll chafe against your attention and affection, unless it’s on their terms. Like cats, they’ll seek you out only when they’re hungry, bored, or need something. But you must always be prepared to get scratched for no reason because these giant, hairless felines can lash out at any time, without provocation.
But I know “Cool Moms” end up raising mean girls like Regina George. So I’m ok with the mean mom label.
Why My Kids Think I’m a Mean Mom…
My kids think I’m the evilest of mothers because I insist on doing infuriating things like keeping them safe. For example, I won’t look at their Tik Tok videos while I’m driving or standing in front of an open flame. I also insist they wear helmets on their bikes and seat belts in the car and refuse to buy them skateboards or hover boards.
I’ve also been told that I mess with their vibe by insufferably counting down to school departure in 5-minute increments so they know how much time they have to ruin my mascara and throw wet towels on the floor. Offering gentle reminders about basic hygiene such as teeth brushing and face washing? Forget about it. It’s way better to spend four hours crying and locked in one’s room bemoaning life-ruining acne than actually using the acne-treatments I’ve procured for them. What a mean mom!
Understandably, my kids also hate it when I wash, dry, and fold the clothes I bought for them, but fail to put them away in drawers. And because I was raised in the olden days when we had to milk our own cows and churn our own butter, sometimes it takes me more than a nanosecond to conduct an operation on my smartphone which, I now know, is unacceptable. And don’t even get me started about what happens when I can’t pick them up from school IN THE CAR, or when I buy the $50 school spirit hoodie then suggest they wear it on spirit day.
I know, I’m a monster.
Subscribing to only four streaming channels and failing to invoke my powers of invisibility when their friends come over are two additional ways I am ruining my children’s lives. But this is nothing compared to the time I was in a medically-induced coma after getting run over by a garbage truck then fed through a wood chipper and they had to get their own snacks. Luckily I recovered in time to make dinner.
Speaking of dinner, my kids hate that I’m determined to feed them healthy meals. Fruits and vegetables to ward off scurvy and whole grains to help them poop more than once every eight days? Puh-lease. And because what they liked yesterday is not what they like today (duh) I am also guilty of stocking the house with food no one likes. My annoying lack of psychic powers means I don’t always know they were ‘saving’ that item, or that they planned to make crème brûlée after school and how the bloody hell can they do that without a butane torch mother?
My kids’ asses are also continually chapped by the fact I insist on providing them with expensive insulated water bottles I mistakenly thought would be useful and appreciated on those 100+ degree days that are common in our desert town. But when I warn them something is going to be spicy and it ends up actually being spicy? That’s the worst.
As we know, an important part of parenting in the digital age is safeguarding your children’s mental and emotional health wherever possible. Unfortunately there’s now a myriad of ways kids can be pressured, bullied, and targeted online. But because I only recently learned what ‘catfishing’ means, my warnings about online predators cannot be trusted. After all, I’m old and ‘have no chill.’ Also, taking my children’s phones at night so they wake up rested and refreshed is, like, the worst. But it’s not as bad as suggesting they take a break from electronics to use the backyard pool and spa that was built primarily for their use and cost more than Jeff Bezos’ trip to space.
Keeping your kids safe and healthy without ruining their lives is obviously a difficult line to walk, and it seems I have a lot of work to do. The good news is, my children are not shy about critiquing my performance whenever the opportunity presents itself – ie. every five minutes. I guess my only hope is that they pick up enough information from other reliable sources, such as friends and social media. Eventually they’ll decide living with me is intolerable and slip me some poison or mess with the brakes on my car but until then I’ll keep momming the only way I know how: mean mom style.