I’ve been at the parenting gig exactly 4 years, 217 days and about 22 hours. I’ve learned approximately 1/25,458,992 of what I need to know about effectively raising children, and have discovered that when my Mom used stay she was “flying by the seat of her pants” with my brother and I, she wasn’t kidding.
In that relatively short period of time I have also been called a “Mean Mom” on more than one occasion, and by more than one person. I know it’s not the last time, and while my feelings have a time or two been a little hurt, for the most part I’m ok with it.
You see, I think there are times that being a “Mean Mom” means simply that you love your kids enough to say no, step into an argument, feed them broccoli with dinner instead of chocolate mint ice cream and send them to the corner.
I know I sure thought my Mom was a “Mean Mom” while I was growing up. We had rules that our friends didn’t, boundaries that even the mounted police wouldn’t have to follow and punishments that felt like modern day torture (which weren’t really that bad, but you try functioning with your hand tied to your brothers for a little while… you’ll see).
And then I grew up and had children of my own.
All of a sudden, some of the things she did, didn’t seem so mean, some of the punishments she had employed didn’t feel so torturous and her words started seeping out of my lips and they didn’t sound so unreasonable.
I’d officially become a “Mean Mom”.
Now, I don’t set out to be a “Mean Mom”, I’d love for the day to come when our girls are teenagers that their friends think I’m cool (No. I don’t do drugs, I’m just a dreamer) but I’m not willing to achieve that by letting go of parenting our girls. Being a yes Mom might make me “cool” but it won’t keep them safe, it won’t teach them to be strong, wise and self assured people and it wouldn’t be, who I was born to be.
And before you go feeling all sorry for our girls because they have a mean ol’ tyrant for a mother, hear me out. I’m not always the “Mean Mom”. I know how to have fun, I know how to relax and they are allowed more often than not to “just be kids”. They are also happy little girls, who are well behaved (most of the time), who are polite, and kind and try hard to be obedient. I am proud of who they are becoming, and while so much of that is credited to the little people God gave us to work with, some of it, is because of how we’re raising them.
For that I’ll take my lumps, I’ll wear my “Mean Mom” t-shirt (hypothetical, for now) with pride and I’ll keep trudging along. If they think I’m mean from time to time, it’ll be tough luck (to find out if you’re a “Mean Mom” see below) because it’s all done out of love and that’s what really matters.
At the end of the day, we’re all doing our best. We’re all loving our kids and we’re all “flying by the seat of our pants”. And every now and then, we just end up having to be a “Mean Mom”.
A “Mean Mom”….
– Doesn’t buy her child the chocolate bar she’s wailing over while shopping, but rather gives one whispered warning (“If you do not STOP your tantrum Right Now, you’ll be standing in time out right here in the store”) and then puts child in said time out (which happens to be the corner of feminine hygiene and foot care) for her allotted two minutes to make her point.
– Makes her children go to bed at a slotted bedtime each night, which happens to be at a decent hour (anywhere between 7 and 8:30pm) because her children will sleep longer, be happier and thusly earn fewer time outs (see above).
– Expects and teaches her children to help clean up their toys each evening before bed, to make their bed in the morning and to help with other household duties (which are in our house “responsibilities”)
– Requires her children to say “Yes Mom” after she’s given direction or discipline (eg. “Sammy, you need to pick up your truck right now, or I will be putting it away in my closet for 3 sleeps” “Yes Mommy/Mom”) to acknowledge both the instruction and the fact that the noise coming from his mother’s mouth is not “wa wa wa” ala Charlie Brown
– Follows through with consequences and does not believe in threats. I don’t threaten our children but warn with a consequence, a threat can be destructive and often hollow. What I say, I mean, always.
– Makes promises and ALWAYS keeps them. I don’t ever promise anything I don’t do. Whether it’s good or bad, a treat or a punishment follow through is key
– Has been known to put a doll in time out because not having a prized possession for 5 minutes can be much more effective than standing in the corner yourself. It also reminds you that dolls have hard heads and you should not wack your sister in the face with a doll, even for a laugh.
– Considers ice cream, chocolate, candy and sugar a treat. Which means while it can be had on occasion it is not a daily occurence, can be taken away for bad behaviour and is NOT under any circumstance used to soothe an upset child. (We don’t believe in food for comfort, it can create emotional eating habits)
– Spanks her child from time to time. If the choice is child running into traffic/sticking finger in outlet/opening oven door – the consequence is a swat on the behind. It’s better than the consequence of the alternative
– Does not allow her children to jump on trampolines due to the accident rate. (this particular rule may be one that has sent “Mean Mom” comments from other parents in our direction. Meh. I won’t judge you for having a trampoline, don’t you judge me for doing my best to protect my children) And may have broken her own bones on one simply because her ankle absorbed the shock of three other kids’ double bounce.
– Will have a whole new list once her children are teenagers. But since thinking of that list is currently making this “Mean Mom” hyperventilate we’ll leave it for another day.
– Loves her children more than her own breath. And spends each and every single day doing her best to raise the children God wants her to, honest, kind, hard working, contributing members of society….who also will one day be a “Mean Mom”
If you have your own A “Mean Mom”…. moment to add, please share. Also please note, these are my “Mean Mom” moments, if you do things differently, which you probably do, there is no judgement being passed. This is how we roll, that’s all.