This piece originally appeared on Kathy’s blog, My Diswasher’s Possessed.
Lately I have started to sound like a drill sergeant in the morning. I bark out commands: “Brush your teeth.” “Pack your lunch.” “For the love of God, haven’t you put your clothes on yet?” “Don’t forget to put deodorant on. You don’t want to be smelly.”
I use a loud voice meant to carry over the sounds of music, kids and the TV news. That I use this voice in between trying to have an adult conversation with my husband about the latest political news or what is going on in the world makes me irresistible to him, I just know it.
I have turned into “that” mom. The woman that is depicted in a million sitcoms.
I’m the “bad guy.” I’m the parent that says, “You can’t go out until you clean your room.” “No, I don’t think it’s a good idea that you dumped all your Legos all over the living room. Clean them up. Now. Now. Now!”
I have been hearing from my sweeties that I’m a mean mom and that their dad is much nicer.
And you know what. I don’t mind it in the least.
In fact, I see it as my job. It’s the one I signed up for almost 18 years ago, when my first baby came into the world, and Joe and I decided that I would stay home.
He has a long commute and gets home late. I’m the one who is home with the kids day in and day out. Yes, I have to be the one who lays down the law most of the time. But I also get a lot of the good stuff too.
I feel very grateful that I’m the one my kids come home to. I love watching them grow up.
But the fact that my kids, now 17, 14 and 11, have been complaining that I have been employing my “Mean Mommy” routine much more frequently has gotten me thinking. I do sort of miss my cheerier self. Since my words seem to be ringing hollow lately, I have decided to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and let them know what it will take to get more frequent appearances of “Nice Mommy.”
Please feel free to hate me. I get it. The world is a tough place, and we all need somebody safe to get mad at. I’m cool that that is me.
I am not cool (not in the slightest) with being spoken to in anything but a civil tone. So if you are going to express your negative feelings to me, please use big words and say it as politely as possible.
One example could be: “Dear Mother, that rule that says I must not end my brother’s existence because he “accidentally” destroyed the CD collection it took me years to curate seems grossly unfair and unjust. I have very negative feelings toward you, him and all of humankind and will need to retire to my room until I have sufficiently recovered.”
I assure you that if you express yourself appropriately, I will return the favor. You will also find yourself grounded less.
Also, if I ask you to do something, do it. The first time I ask you. I get it, you are teens and preteens, you are legally required to be more difficult. But if you want a nicer mom, be a nicer child.
I have no problem with you fixing your own snack. In fact I highly encourage it. But if I come into the kitchen to what looks like a crime scene, do not be surprised if my voice goes up a few octaves. And don’t say, “But I was just going to clean it up. You walked in too early.”
Since we are talking about eating, we must eat like human beings. (The child who this applies to, you know who I’m talking to.) If we refuse to eat like human beings, yes, I will get annoyed and ask you to leave the table. I might make a joke the first time, and tell you that your great grandmother just fainted in heaven watching you eat your pasta. But after that, it’s Mean Mommy time.
And for the love of all that is holy, it is not a surprise that you have to put on clothes, shoes, brush your teeth and get washed each morning for school. If you don’t like me to yell in the morning, get ready. It’s not that hard. I do it every day and with not much sleep, thank you very much.
If you follow these simple rules, I assure you the nicer, less-stressed-out mom you have come to know and love will reappear. Well, at least after she has had her morning coffee.
Kathy Radigan is a writer, blogger, social media addict, mom to three, wife to one and owner of a possessed appliance. She posts a weekly essay each Sunday on her blog, My Dishwasher’s Possessed! She is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post and her work can be seen on Scary Mommy, LittleThings, What the Flicka and TODAY Parent’s. She lives outside New York City with her family. You can follow her on Facebook, and Twitter