How many times have you felt so unappreciated in your role a mom? Seriously, it’s the most thankless job that we all love to do. My next question is, how many times have you caught yourself sounding like your own mother and cringed? Or better yet, how many times have you heard your kids speak those terrible words to you? You know the ones that you so clearly remember feeling about your own parents and swore to yourself that you’d never make your kids feel like that one day? Here’s a hint, Love is not included in any of the sentences.
So it happens to the best of us because kids are kids and parents are parents. Kids are not always going to like what we say or want to do what we tell them to, so inevitably they are going to think parents kind of suck sometimes. Yup, even if they aren’t saying it there is a big chance they are thinking it. I mean really, don’t you think the same about your boss when he/she makes you do something you think is pointless or not within your job description. We’ve been there as adults so kids are people too and they have the same emotions. This is what I try to tell myself so I don’t take what they say to me so personally sometimes. Yes my kids say things like:
“I wish you weren’t my mom.”
“You’re the worst mom.”
“You’re a mean dumb mom.”
“Mom is so mean.”
“She is so dumb.”
They mostly say this when they think I’m not listening but they do say it to me as well. It usually comes when I tell them something they don’t want to hear, such as:
“We can’t go visit our friend if we don’t clean up and I’ve now asked you to pick up your clothes and toys at least 10 times.”
“If you want screen time we you have to earn it by doing the things on your chart, i.e. brush your teeth, be ready for school on time, be kind, make your bed, etc…”
“You didn’t stop fighting so now you will loose a privilege.”
The list can go on possibly forever. I will say my kids usually have to be in a not so great mood when I say these things to have the “I hate you mom” reaction but they have it none the less. Personally I think that if I’m simply asking you to be a decent human-being and contribute in our family, I don’t (nor does anyone) deserve to be treated with such distaste and disrespect. It’s simply life.
Like many, I often feel my kid are spoiled. I do almost everything for them and they can want for nothing because they have more than what they should want or need. I’m sure our parents felt the same about us. So, with all this said I decided to give them a taste of what “Mean Dumb Mom” is really like. Here’s how it went.
This little experience as “Mean Dumb Mom” went on for about a day and a half. One night before bed, I had just finished asking my kids to brush their teeth for what felt like the 100th time and yet I just find them in their room physically fighting with each other. Ok, it was more like wrestling. An angry wrestling. I was so frustrated I said (well maybe I yelled), “Enough, I’ve asked you to brush your teeth so we can read a book before bed and now I’m done. Everyone to bed right NOW!” Of course they became upset and even more so when I said we are not doing prayers because we are not behaving. Oh, well, that set them over the edge. They went pouting and stomping but they went to bed. As I closed the door I hear whisperings of “she’s a mean dumb mom” and “I wish she wasn’t our mom.” Well that was it. I opened the door and I let them have it. In a slightly elevated angry voice I said, “oh yeah, is that what you think?! Well tomorrow you will see what ‘Mean Dumb Mom’ is really like. When you wake up, don’t wake me up! Don’t ask me for breakfast! Don’t ask me for snack or lunch! If you want those things you’ll have to do them for yourself. You’ll get yourselves ready for school on time. I will not help you at all. If you want ‘Mean Dumb Mom’, you’ll get her.” All of a sudden they unexpectedly both started to cry. Oh my goodness, I was completely caught off guard. Of course my heart crushed but I didn’t let it make me back down. I simply closed the door to their room and walked to sit on the couch. I took deep breaths and sat quietly sad and bothered. Feeling guilt about yelling and bad about my parenting skills. Within a few short minutes I heard little foot steps come out and my youngest appeared in front of me and proceeded to hug me quietly. If you know my youngest you know he’s not a hugger so I was a bit surprised. After the hug he says, “I’m still mad at you.” I can laugh about it now but in that moment it made me realize that while he felt bad he hadn’t learned his lesson.
The next morning, I did as I said I would do. I said I wasn’t going to help them and I didn’t. I know they are capable of all the things I normally do for them because when they want to do them, they do. My youngest made his own cereal while the oldest made his snack. The oldest decided not to eat breakfast (his choice) and the youngest fussed around about getting dressed so he never made it in time to make his snack or lunch. That day it also happened to be raining so I decided that if I really wanted to be “mean mom” I’d make them walk in the rain. So that’s what we did. The only problem was getting my #2 to get dressed and out the door on time. So dad was roped in and I walked my oldest to school in the rain (more like a drizzle) while dad waited around for my youngest. As we walked to school Logan began to ask, “what can we do to get nice mommy back?” I simply told him that he and his brother had to be nice to me and to each other and prove to me that they can do that all the time. I realize this was a lot to ask but I wanted to get my point across. So we continued quietly on. When we got to school I spoke to each of their teachers because I was afraid of meltdowns or them getting distracted with hunger or the fact that they didn’t have snack. They understood and supported me so I felt really good about it. Both my kids were smart enough to get hot lunch and my youngest went as far as to buy snack. My youngest got to school late and was mad because he had to get a tardy pass but it was a lesson he had to learn.
“Mean mom” continued into the next day which was Saturday. Several times throughout Friday night and Saturday morning I was asked how they can get the “old mom” back and I continued with the same answer “be nice to me and to each other and don’t name call, ever. You need to prove yourselves.” Halfway through Saturday (after everyone helped to clean the house and do the laundry) I felt my message had been heard and we sat down and talked about it. I explained that it really hurts my feelings when they say those things. I asked “how you feel if I said I wish you weren’t my kids?” My oldest began to get sad and my youngest said he wouldn’t like it. We discussed how it’s important to be kind to each other and to others and it’s not ok to say hurtful things even if we are really really mad. It felt good to talk and feel like my message was heard. I knew that they would probably do ok for the rest of the day and maybe the next day but I knew it would only be a matter of time. Of course, they are kids I can’t expect miracles. But since that day I now ask if they feel they’d like “mean mom” back, they quickly answer, “No.” Sometimes when they don’t do things I ask, I say “why is it that you do these things for ‘mean mom’ but not for me? Is it better to have ‘mean mom’ here?” They usually get the message . I obviously can’t always use “mean mom” as a default and I can’t keep beating a dead horse but as with any parenting strategy, I hope I did a good thing.
Again the goal is to raise good people with good intentions and lots of love.