I am starting a petition to rename my local children’s museum The Land of Shitty Moms.
A snit between me and some lousy parent nearly came to fisticuffs today.
She may have been pregnant or just a regular at World of Beer. Either way, I know I would’ve won.
Yeah, she made me that mad.
The first problem: It’s the week where admission is free with your public library card. Apparently people who enjoy free books also believe in a style of parenting that fosters stealing, hitting and general mayhem.
There wasn’t a single toy my children played with that wasn’t snatched from their hands within seconds.
There wasn’t a span of 5 minutes where they weren’t shoved out of their position in a line.
Their requests for a turn with something, no matter how polite, were met with a child holding onto the coveted item with a death grip, flashing an evil grin that would’ve earned them a role in a teen vampire flick.
But, no single instance of crappy kid-dom got my dander up like the following:
My kids were playing with giant soft blocks.
They are numbered, intended to be used to create an arch.
My kids are bringing me each number in order to stack them up.
As soon as we got three blocks high, some string-bean with a maniacal Joker grin would rush them like she was part of the defensive line.
She did it once and I waited patiently for the demon seed’s mother to intervene.
The second time, I said, “No, honey we’re trying to build a tower for an arch.”
The third time, I am looking around like, “Where the f*&k is your parent?”
Now, I’m not a complete asshole.
The first time some kid tries to bulldoze mine or treat them like straight poop, I take a deep breath and assume the parent was busy sneezing or wrangling a second child.
But, when it happens over and over, I am damn sure gonna tell your kid to back the f&*k off. (Obviously, in the gentlest way possible.)
Now, this kid’s mom turned out to be just feet away, watching and doing nothing. (In other words, totally approving of her little shit’s behavior.)
In fact, a few seconds later I overheard her say to her tiny psychopath, “They can’t tell you not to play. The kids’ mom is right there. You go ahead and do what you want.”
‘Do what you want?’
Well, therein lies the problem.
Your kid can’t do what she wants. What she wants is to destroy something other kids were playing with. (In the way it was intended to be played with.)
Next, she’s going to “do what she wants” and smother your newborn to death. But, ‘Go ahead honey! Express yourself.’
Now, as for what I want to do when I hear something like this? Well, it could be misconstrued as a published threat against a potentially pregnant woman.
Now, let me be clear, I do not hold similar grudges against other parents of toy-snatching underage assholes.
There were plenty of babies who grabbed a toy from my kids and I simply smiled and gave the “friendly shrug” to their moms.
If your kid is so little, his main objective is to deep throat that phallic fake fruit or use a felt piece of lettuce to wipe away the evidence of a cold accumulating under his nose, no apology needed.
(Yes, I noticed your son, the one with the gooey drainage traveling like a slow-motion river from nose to mouth and was offended. You took your sick kid to a freakin’ packed children’s museum during free week. Thanks a bunch! But, still… you’re not the mom I’m pissed at.)
As a parent, my job is to watch my child’s every move.
I have to make sure no pervert sneaks them off to a public restroom.
I have to make sure no mentally ill woman who miscarried 3 years ago tries to snatch my kid and pawn them off as her own.
But, mostly my job is to make sure my kids don’t act like dicks to yours. I do a damn good job.
All I ask is that you do the same, because if you don’t, I will take over the role.
Several times today I told a small child that wasn’t my own, “You need to take turns.” “You need to ask for a turn.” “You need to wait in line.”
My head was so hot today, all those moms are just lucky I didn’t throw a “f*&Kwad” at the end of those sentences.
Another brief example:
I was at a free music show event for kids at my local library the other day.
A herd of cackling moms sat in the back and talked the WHOLE time. (Great example ladies!)
Meanwhile, the poor guy performing had to yell at one of their kids over and over to sit down.
At one point, the kid pretty much slapped the guy in the face.
The kid’s mom was still laughing away at whatever-the-f&*k with her pals.
Yeah, you weren’t facing some dire circumstances and were looking for a shoulder to cry on and momentarily lost track of your son in a small room during a public performance.
Well, maybe your kid has special needs.
Wait… in which case, you REALLY should’ve been watching him to make sure he didn’t ruin an entire event for a few dozen kids and physically assault the musician.
Here’s what I’ve realized since deciding to make my full-time job raising two children:
I’ve done a darn good job with limited time for the first few years of their lives and a whole lot of other parents are failing miserably with loads of time and they don’t give a crap.
Welcome to life as a stay at home mom.
Welcome to the Land of Shitty Moms.
I was swallowed by a career and just survived getting shit back out.
Career day in elementary school wasn’t a gathering of kids with big dreams of someday being underpaid, under-appreciated, mid-level employees facing brutal criticism and daily disappointment.
Upon graduating from high school, I thought I was making an incredibly sensible decision in abandoning the pipe dreams of being an actress to get a degree in Telecommunications.
Shit, I didn’t even walk.
I picked up my diploma from an office and started applying to jobs. Hundreds of jobs. Mostly radio jobs, where the salary offered wouldn’t have been enough to survive on without roommates and lots of Top Ramen.
When nothing panned out, I moved in with my mother in Miami and starting working as a bookseller at Barnes and Noble.
Little did I know, that would become my favorite job to date. That’s despite having to wear a ridiculous witch hat on Harry Potter nights.
No brown nosing.
I wasn’t giving up my sense of self either. Hoodies and jeans.
Deal with it.
Within a year, I was a full-time associate producer. Within 2 years, a regular producer.
I would sit at bars with co-workers and hash out the bullshit of the day, an alcoholic post-mortem always punctuated by my comments about how it would be “When I run shit someday.”
Four years later, I got sick of working overnight, paying my dues in sleepless nights, power naps that left a dent in my forehead from the edge of my desk.
Daydrinking because it was normal.
Breakfast baked potato from the 24-hour Wendy’s in the ghetto.
I took a position in Tampa with every expectation I was on the fast track to becoming an Executive Producer.
I watched my mom go from Associate Producer to News Director in less than 6 years.
I had this on lock.
Not to mention that the News Director who hired me referred to my cover letter as “beautifully written.”
He called my resume impressive. Once I started, he said he thought there was no way they were going to get me to come on board.
I was too good for THEM.
I met my husband and had a couple of kids.
Along the way I went from weekend producer, to weekday 11, to weekday 6.
Then, suddenly 2 years ago, I was doing the Noon show.
Then, they told me they were moving me back to weekends.
After 9 years.
I gave my notice the same day.
I don’t have some awesome other job lined up. I am not just giving up a job, I am giving up a career that I once loved very much.
While I couldn’t be more thrilled to be able to focus on being a better parent to my children, there is also some sadness over a dream that has died.
But, as one of my very best friends said, “Defeated doesn’t suit you.”
Somehow I allowed this business, this job, to dig its hideous black talons into my spirit and squeeze out the very guts of who I am.
Enjoy my entrails.
Consider them the breadcrumbs that lead to another world, one where I am free to aspire to be something greater than I am every day.
Chew on that.
My mother is Earl Grey tea with a little milk. She is cinnamon toast and yogurt with peaches. She is macaroni and tomato soup on a cold night.
She is the piano playing on a drowsy summer day. She is the soft hush after a nightmare. She is rocking me slowly, singing Carole King until the crying stops.
She is my solo standing ovation, applauding my practice for an audition. She is the voice of reason following bullying and rejection. She is taking me on a shopping spree for clothes so I can fit in.
She is chocolate cake after a rough day.
She is wine and carbs after a bad breakup. She is cruise ships and suntans and Mexican food so spicy I get second-degree burns.
She is a late-night campfire and the deepest, safest sleep.
She is brushing my daughter’s hair, scratching her back. She is picking flowers with her, strolling through the garden.
She is Nana now.
But, she will always be cattails, Vanilla and willow ware, swinging brass pots and Chariots of Fire, cradling me and singing Hush Little Baby.
For all she did for me that I understand now, I will forever be blessed.
Ahhh, the sleepover.
A quintessential part of the American childhood.
Just the word “sleepover” probably stirs up fond memories of late-night giggling, poorly painted toe-nails and itchy sleeping bags.
For me, it dredges up the crying jags and calls to come home in the middle of the night.
The panicky realization that I was actually expected to sleep at some point.
The horror of having to pretend to LIKE pizza and ignoring the aching pains that followed due to lactose intolerance.
My top 3 worst sleepover experiences, in no particular order:
SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY
Maybe it was the title of the movie that had the parents confused.
Sleeping, like a “sleepover.”
Maybe I had led a sheltered life, never having seen a movie that was rated R by the tender age of 8.
But, I could not hide my shock and dismay as we huddled onto our friend’s fluffy, pink twin bed and watched Julia Roberts being raped by Patrick Bergin.
The first sex scene I had ever seen and it was a portrait of a violently abusive marriage.
At this age, the mere mention of sex made my throat swell-up with anxiety.
As I’ve mentioned, I grew up in a fundamentalist Christian family and just thinking about sex was likely to earn you a ticket straight to the fiery pits of hell. (At least in my prepubescent mind.)
At first, I tried to nonchalantly cover my eyes.
That wasn’t going to work.
There was audio.
Can’t cover your eyes and ears simultaneously.
So, I did what any other slightly hypochondriacal youngster would do.
I pretended to feel sick, rushed out of the room and spent a good portion of the evening engaging in calming banter with my friend’s mother. (No mention was made of their incredibly poor choice of films for the sleepover.)
(By the way, I adore that movie now. I guess it’s kind of like, ‘I can watch it now without wanting to die or praying for forgiveness! I win!’)
THE MANSION UTI
My father was a math teacher at a prep school for rich kids.
We didn’t have much money (understatement) and frequently found ourselves with incredibly wealthy friends.
One of those kids lived in a mansion with an olympic-size swimming pool, complete with high diving board and an ice cream parlor.
They were having a birthday party for her brother and I swear to God, they had the longest, most phenomenal Slip ‘N Slide I had ever seen. It ended in a pool that was way bigger than the above ground one we had in our backyard.
Needless to say, I was already intimidated by the home, the toys, the yard, the pool.
Just looking at my friend sitting with perfect posture while playing at her grand piano was enough to make me feel inferior for JUST BEING.
It was around midnight when I started to realize I was suffering from the world’s most wicked urinary tract infection. Dear God, the pain!
I wasn’t keen on being there, but I wanted to impress my rich pal, so I tried to suck it up, tough it out, biting into the provided pillow to try to keep from screaming.
I finally broke down and called my mom and whispered through tears that my private parts were en fuego.
I’m sure you’re already thinking you can guess how this sleepover went. But, wait!
It was a sleepover at MY house and I was NOT the one who puked.
It was my neighborhood friend.
She ran for the bathroom.
She only made it to the hallway.
It was projectile.
It was shocking.
It was the look on my father’s face while he was sopping it up that I will never forget for as long as I live.
He looked like Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction.
Or Samuel L. Jackson in Django Unchained.
Or Samuel L. Jackson in any movie for that matter.
These and also the glaring facts that some parents are also perverts, some guns are left unlocked and some alcohol is on the bottom shelf are the reasons why I will never (don’t hold me to it) let my kids sleepover.
And your (vomiting) kids can’t stay either.