In the hopes my children will never read this (or at the very least, lose interest midway through and click off like they usually do), I will make the mother of all confessions (no pun intended): at times I am not a great mom.
Now … It’s not a tragic scenario by any means. I’ve never lost a kid at the mall (which, I might add, instantly places me in a winner’s circle without my sister), but I have been known to lose track of my ten-year-old’s last shower. And I suspect that if Children’s Services ever caught wind of the actual number of times my kids’ sheets are changed, well, there might be some action taken.
But so far, to date (she said, knocking wood) none of my kids have a probation officer. To quote Michael Buble, I’m feeling good.
Still, I’ve got some dirty diaper secrets my kids would have a field day with — especially the next time I’m ragging about a low B in Spanish.
I have signed homework sheets that I never really checked.
I’ve feigned sleep when I heard a screaming/puking/sneaking-in-past-curfew kid in the middle of the night just to allow my husband the opportunity to fly out of bed like a rocket and deal with it.
I’ve had the television entertain my little ones for hours at a time, just to talk on the phone a little longer or get my house clean. And the violent video games that are rumored to melt brain cells? Let’s just say we take our chances.
I will say without shame that – until they’ve been old enough to realize it – I have skipped pages of bedtime stories.
I have sometimes not enforced regular teeth brushing with my toddlers because, I reason, they’re just going to fall out anyway….
And yes, I have driven past the library only to hear a tiny voice in the backseat say in wonder, “Hey, I remember that place – I think I was there once.”
My missteps have continued as my kids have gotten older.
I scoop wet towels off various floors and toss them in the dryer with a fabric sheet for days at a time before washing them (and I would scrunch up my eyebrows in profound judgment if I found out you didn’t).
I cut off my kids’ cell service the minute I cannot withstand one more minute of backtalk … and then forget to pick them up because I haven’t heard from them.
And I’d have to admit, some of my best Mom Moments are a little unorthodox. For instance, I keep my cell phone charger in my underwear drawer and make sure my kids know it. Why? Because should it go missing – like all chargers do – I want my kids – especially my boys – to know they’d be fishing around through my panties in order to get to it.
I still haven’t ordered my daughter’s prom dress because she still hasn’t cleaned her room. And that was our deal – that it had to be Mom Clean.
And I’ve changed the locks on one particular occasion to make a rebellious teen know for damn sure that I was completely, unquestionably, irrevocably done with his nonsense.
But I have to admit, it’s not hopeless.
I’m pretty sure that for every really (really) lousy thing I do (or, in the case of the sheets, don’t do), I make up for it in other ways. For instance, I kiss my kids. A lot. And I tell them I love them — all the time. The words are spoken so often that I now possess three sons in various stages of development who actually say it back to me: in front of their friends, over their shoulders as they’re scooting out the door, and (yes, sir) when they’re mad at me.
(One time, when it dawned on me that my ornery ‘tween was attempting to become an ornery ‘tween Bedroom Mole, I demanded impromptu hug practices and made him stand locked in an embrace with me until he smiled.) Whatever it takes.
My home is extremely dusty at times (here comes a pat on the back from nobody-cares-about-your-undone-chores-Oprah; you know, spoken as if she’s one of us) and my inability to remember details makes it impossible for me to recall the name of the last antibiotic any of my kids were prescribed.
But I know I’m a pretty good mom regardless. I watch my kids all the time. Not in the “Get back here, a stranger’s going to steal you!” kind of way, but in a fascinated, still-can’t-believe-they’re-mine way. A profound failure in keeping baby books, I do, however, try to write down both wonderful and ordinary things about our daily lives. When I noticed my little guy’s SpongeBob underwear clear through his little white baseball pants during his very first tee-ball game, I jotted it down. It was without question the cutest thing I’d ever seen.
And when my toddler loudly pointed out during an extremely crowded Easter mass that “Mommy, look, they all drink wine like you do at home!” much as I wanted to die, I wrote that down, too.
Nowadays I don’t have to write much down since I can immediately promote their perfections and pitfalls on (ta da!) blogs and Facebook.
Life’s too short to dwell on dirty sheets. Tru dat, Oprah.
Kids make you crazy. But when they’re in the back seat of a Suburban giggling over the stupidest of stupid bad-gas jokes, they make you giggle, too. And every now and then when you’re ready to lock yourself in the bathroom for just five more minutes before your head explodes off your neck, they’ll do something unexpected and delightful to make you unlock that door.
When they were little, when they’d hear Barry White come out of the speakers they’d seek me out (“Mom, it’s your soooooooong!”) and spontaneously dance with me in our kitchen. How’s that for an upper?
Now that they’re older and (gulp) out in public without me, I’ll get the mother of all compliments (again, no pun intended) when I least expect it, sometimes from complete strangers:
You’ve got great kids.
I’m thinking a terrible mom would never be able to pull that off, right?
But dayum. I’ll still be keeping my phone charger in my underwear drawer, thankyouverymuch.
Tina Drakakis blogs at Eyerollingmom and recently was featured in Huff Post. She appeared in the Boston production of “Listen to Your Mother: Giving Motherhood a Microphone.” Her work has been featured in NPR’s “This I Believe” radio series yet she places “Most Popular 1984” on top of her list of achievements. (Next would be the home improvement reality TV show of 2003 but her kids won’t let her talk about that anymore). A witty mother of four, she takes on cyberspace as @Eyerollingmom on Twitter and Eyerollingmom on Facebook & @Eyerollingmom on Instagram. Her collection of essays, A Momoir, can be found here (agent interest ALWAYS WELCOME!)
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