While walking into Target with my son last week, we passed a woman pushing her over-stuffed cart out of the store. My son was busy checking out the contents of her cart when the young girl seated in the front of the cart caught our attention by repeatedly shouting, “You’re the meanest mom in the WHOLE WORLD!” so loudly that for a moment, we both almost believed her.
“Wow,” he said, “I wonder what that mom did!”
I simultaneously gave him the mind-your-own-business face while attempting to talk over him loudly enough so this poor woman didn’t think she was being judged by every person in the Target parking lot.
Actually, I never did answer him, but every mom knows the answer to what that mom did to become the worst mom in the whole world during a seemingly routine trip to Target: the opposite of whatever her kid wanted.
I wished I had a secret hand signal or something to let her know, “I feel your pain and I’ve got your back.”
Like a mom version of Katniss’s finger kiss in the Hunger Games, that says, “I salute you and your decision to not simply leave this tyrant-version of your precious child in the Target toy section.”
Perhaps a little pat on my back, to serve as a virtual pat on her back (without freaking her out with any unwelcome touching,) and just to say that I get it.
To her, and to all of you meanest moms in the world, know the rest of us meanest moms have your back.
We’ve got your back when you’re too mean to give into your child’s pleas to buy that gotta-have-it-I’ll-never-ask-for-anything-again toy at Target. We all know adult versions of the kids that got all the toys they asked for, and it ain’t pretty.
We’ve got your back when you’re mean and set limits on electronics. The boredom that you’re causing for that poor creature who’s so bored they could die is a gift to their developing brains. Plus, now you can complete the metamorphosis into your mother by saying, “If you’re so bored, why don’t you go clean your room?”
We’ve got your back when you make your teenager drag themselves back out of bed to brush their teeth before going to sleep. We’re paying off those braces for the next 10 years, so that mouth technically belongs to us and we can dictate how it is cared for.
We’ve got your back for nagging about every dish washing infraction ever: 1) Not clearing dirty plates off the table, 2) Putting dirty plates in the sink (or sink-adjacent), but not the dishwasher, 3) Putting dirty plates in the clean dishwasher, 4) Putting dirty Tupperware in the dirty dishwasher, but with the lid still on it.
Research shows it can take 20 hours of performing a task before it becomes automatic.
So you’ll have plenty of opportunities to earn your “World’s Meanest Mom” mug — which will likely be the only item loaded in the dishwasher properly for the next 18 years.
We’ve got your back when you make the painful decision to not bring the homework your kid forgot to school, even if you’re already heading to the school to volunteer. It’s a painful lesson for them to learn at age 10, but a reason they could get fired when they’re 20.
We’ve got your back every time you make your daughter come down to the laundry room and remove the underpants that inexplicably appear to be wearing her dirty pants. After years of diaper duty, you shouldn’t haven’t to deal with your kids’ dirty drawers ever again. Ever.
And even when your meanness blurs the line between benefiting you more than your kids, we’ve still got your back.
We’ve got your back when you steal the good candy from your kids’ stash because sugar is so bad for their growing bodies, and so necessary for a mom’s shrinking sanity.
We’ve got your back when you have to break into your kid’s piggy bank to tip the delivery guy. It’s a great opportunity to teach your kids about low-interest loans — and about the importance of hiding their valuables.
We’ve got your back when you sneak to the kitchen to add a couple more minutes to the “time out” timer. Sure, your kid will grow up with a really messed up concept of what 5 minutes is, but we’re confident you earned that extra 2 minutes of (relative) me time today.
Cheers to the meanest moms out there, who do what needs to be done for their children, even if the kiddos can’t see it.
And the next time my kid asks, “Wow, what did that mom do that was so mean?” I will say, “She’s not mean. She helped her kid and they just haven’t realized it yet.”