15 June 2011

Mean Mother

After the Captain left for Dallas, I individually spoke with all of my boys, and told them what the next two weeks had in store for me. I laid it all out: the bathroom renovations, the gallbladder surgery, One's graduation and party. I told them I would need their help. I implored them to please get their homework done, clean up their messes, anticipate what I needed, and do it. At the very least, to go to bed without me nagging and/or snuggling.

Four said, "Okay, Mom. Why do you need your gallbladder taken out?"
Five interrupted, "See, Four, it's not her bladder, it's her goal bladder."
"Yes, I know. What does it do, Mom?"
"Well," I answered to the best of my ability, "my liver produces bile, which helps digest food. And my gallbladder works with it. But now it's sick, and my liver can sort of do the job without it, so the doctor is going to take it out."
"I wouldn't want to watch that! I would pass out if I had to see all that blood," Four shuddered.
"What will happen if you die?" Five asked.
"I'm not going to die having my gallbladder removed," I reassured him. I thought.
"No, but what if you do? What would we do? I would die, if you die. I mean it, Mom, I would just end my life if you died. That would be it," he added dramatically.

And all this time, I thought he didn't care. That night I had to snuggle, to scare away the death dreams.

In contrast, here is what I got from the teenagers:

One said, "Okay, Mom." And he's been great. He's taken the girl dog out, a lot, and otherwise basically hidden in his room, away from the fracas.

Two bent way down to pat me on the back, and answered, "Whatever you need, Mom." Thus far this week, he's left his plate and cup downstairs, food wrappers in his room, had me drive him to a Confirmation party and a school event he forgot about, and stayed up incredibly late to finish end-of-year portfolios.

Three forgot about one assignment, and left all his notes in school for another. For the past two nights, we've researched, color-copied, and assembled projects. Then, I've stayed up even later to clean the kitchen, before passing out for five hours, just to drag their sleepy asses out of bed.

Two swore he would do better for the rest of the week. No promises from Three. And I've got to tell you, readers, I've lost my shit every night. I know I'm tired and overworked, but I've been downright mean. Like, if-I-was-Catholic-I'd-go-to-confession-mean. And I don't want to be mean. I want to be like Julie, and practice the "don't hurt" message. Don't hurt feelings, bodies, or stuff. I want to stop threatening to send Three to military school, because "they'll make damn sure you're organized!" I know he has ADHD, but I've run out of ideas, and now I'm running on invective.

I was a teenager once, so I get that Three's social calendar is full. He doesn't have a job, with a mortgage and family to support, so he should go have his fun. But holy cow, dude, if you have a week to do the project, at least allow three days! Don't make me check your assignment book before I give you permission to go out. Own it; do your work; grow up!! That said, I really shouldn't blame him for my grey hair, or tell him that he "really is, I'm not kidding, going to give me a fucking heart attack."

I've been a mean-spirited, belittling Mom, and that's not the example I want to set for my children. I want peace, for all of us. So today, I'm going to try and pause a moment to remember that I love my children, before I threaten to break their fingers if they touch my iPhone again. One day at a time.


  1. Even the best of us lose our shit. And, to be clear, I'm not among the best. You're holding up better under the circumstances than I do on most ordinary days. Try not to worry so much (yeah, I know). You will make it through, and so will they. Anyway, it'll likely not scar them for life. The things that do are always the ones you thought were perfectly reasonable.

  2. Anonymous15.6.11

    OH Honey, I WAS the Mean Mom! They even have different names for the different Looks I made at them.

    Here's what you do: from now on it's all about the guilt for the older ones. Don't yell, just sigh loudly, look extremely put-upon, be sad and tremendously disappointed in them, and how they apparently can NOT be depended on to help while Dad is away..."that's fine, I'll just let him know when he calls tonight that Four and Five really contributed, but you guys, well. **sigh** You guys..."

    Our, threaten to send them here. I can still put on that Mean Mom Look, and ya know, Dan has cite books and guns.

  3. Losing your shit is a fact of life. Ordinarily it happens when someone doesn't take responsibility for their own actions and we have to fix it.

    True Story: A colleague who teaches kindergarten once made her whole class wave goodbye to her as she walked out the door and reentered, saying "That's it. You did it. Nice Miss Lilly is gone and now MEAN Miss Lilly is your teacher because you wouldn't follow the rules." So tell them, they had a nice mom. They drove her away!

    Also, I once said to a student (not my best moment): When you need to pee, go to THE BATHROOm do I need to like WRITE THAT ON YOUR HAND so you remember?

  4. What you are teaching your kids is that it's okay not to be perfect and that it's good to express your feelings. Very important lessons.

  5. Oh I'm sure you misunderstood the Don't Hurt message... it's for the KIDS. The Parental Units on the other hand... well. For them it's survival of the fittest. You are, after all, outnumbered.


    "How I failed 5 Today: I am mortal."


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