To The Parents Who Make Me Feel Better About My Own Parenting

If you ever want to feel better about your parenting, chaperone a field trip. I recently chaperoned my kid’s second-grade class on their field trip to the theater, and it was an enlightening experience to say the least. I discovered there are many parents who are perfectly content to send their kids on a school field trip with unbuttoned shirts, ill-fitting pants, untied shoes, stinky breath, tangled hair, and boogers crusted all over their face. And it’s not even a regular school day – it’s a field trip! And it’s the theater!!!

Perhaps these parents already know what many of the rest of us have yet to learn: Kids are gross, and there’s no use in fighting it. But regardless of the reasons their kids are gross, I want to thank these parents, because they made me feel so much better about my often less-than-stellar efforts at parenting.

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And so I say thank you:

To the parents of the kid who had about two days’ worth of snot crusted on his face: My first thought was, did his mother even look at him this morning? But that gross kid made me think to look at my own kid’s face, and I’ll be damned if he didn’t also have boogers crusted around the edge of his nostrils. I know I told him to eat his breakfast and brush his teeth, but you know… I’m not really sure if I ever actually looked directly at him this morning…

To the parents of the adorable kid who sat right next to me on the bus and told me the riveting and oh-so-recent tale of how her mother spent ‘practically all day’ combing lice and their eggs from her hair: Firstly, you’ve never seen me slick my hair back in a ponytail so fast. But secondly: thank you. I feel so much less trashy about the six times I had lice as a kid, plus I’m slightly less mortified thinking of the inevitable God-only-knows how many times my kids will contract that repugnant parasite during the next fifteen years. Annnd now my head itches.

To the parents of the kid who told me all about his new motor home, his new four-wheeler, his new computer, his new house that has a ‘really big’ pool with a slide… and about how his uncle is living in his ‘old’ house, you know, ‘the one the bank took away’: I’m feeling a lot better about that short-sale we did seven years ago. So when can we set up a play date with our kids so my family can play with your family’s toys?

To the parents of the kid whose lunch is packed with a pre-packaged PB&J, super-long fruit roll-up thingy, chocolate rice crispy treat, cheez-its, and chocolate milk: You’re making me feel pretty good about myself for not feeding my kid absolute crap. Really. I don’t know what else to say to you. I admit I’m feeling a little judgy on this one. Although, to be fair, maybe your kid doesn’t gnaw on the dog’s tail or scrape the paint off the walls when you feed him sugary chemical-laden junk, like my kid does.

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To the parents of the kid who ran ahead of the group and was momentarily lost, lagged behind the group and was momentarily lost, hid from the group and was momentarily lost, and tried to head-butt everyone in the group and everyone wished he were lost: Oh, wait… that was my kid. Nevermind.

To the parents of the kid who needed water like, every 10 seconds, and kept nagging me to hold his hat and/or his jacket: Thanks for making me feel justified in making my kid wait for stuff and doing things on my schedule rather than caving in to his every little whimper and whine. I feel so much better for forcing him to be independent. Except for when it comes to tying his shoes. He just learned to do that like two weeks ago. (It’s not my fault the Velcro shoes are always on sale!)

To the parents of the kid who bragged loudly on the bus ride home that her breath stunk, and when one of the other children asked if she brushed her teeth this morning, not only did she say ‘no,’ but she pulled her lips back and opened her mouth really wide like in that toothbrush commercial with the flip-top head so that we could see her FIVE silver crowns: Thanks for inspiring me to put both my kids in headlocks tonight and brush their teeth twice. Seriously dude, that shit looked hella expensive. I think I’d rather have lice.

To all of these parents: Each one of you in your own way made me feel so much better about my parenting. Thank you so much for making me feel, if only for one day, that I am not totally shitting all over this astonishingly sticky job we call parenting.

Or at least that I’m not the only one.

About the writer


Kristen Mae is the voice of Abandoning Pretense, where she tells the whole uncensored truth about marriage, parenthood and life. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, and read her words at Huffpost Parents, Bluntmoms, Scary Mommy and Club Mid.


Allie 7 months ago

I was not offended by this at all! I think this mom was taking the time to forgive her own discrepancies, by noticing others. We all have our moments of self doubt, realizing that other parents have faults puts everything in perspective. None of us are perfect and I think that is the point of this post.

elyse 1 year ago

Wow and here, i thought we were getting away from mom bashing. My son eats “crap,” sometimes and a judgy snob like you won’t make me feel bad about it. THANK YOU for writing this article and making me feel like a better parent because I know for sure I’m not raising my kid to judge and pick others apart.

Amanda 1 year ago

I’m guilty of the prepackaged PB&J, but I sent applesauce and juice with it.

Karen 1 year ago

Coming from a mom who also works in after school care for a living?
I’ve seen it all. And even though your child’s hair is a hot mess and their clothes are stained by the time I see them…I figure your kid dropped some lunch on themselves at school, or got really sandbox happy, and I can also see the once-done-hair-do you did 6 hours ago that is unfortunately no longer. I get it. It’s all good.

J 1 year ago

To the parent who has such low self esteem that they feel the need to write an article bashing gross 2nd graders, I say thank you for making *me* feel like a bigger human being. I see the hypocrisy and I fail to care, I am judging a grown up tight woman. My kids are perfectly washed, cleaned and well fed, but I will be damned if I am going to be a bitch about other peoples kids, you never know their story.

Old Lady in the Shoe 2 years ago

ILOOOVE this! I have 7 children age 20-1. AND I homeschool! The good news is I have faking sanity down, so, I have that going for me. When people ask me how “we” are, my reply is something like, “We’re all still alive!” , or, “No one’s dead or in jail! (Currently anyway). That’s the best I can do right now!” I’m still in a fog from the last batch of pregnancies. Look, when you have more than 3 kids, you have to LOWER your standards! Alive is alive. Reasonably happy trumps clean any day. As home schoolers, I’m on EVERY field trip. We showed up with a2 yr old w/no shoes once! I have an 11 yr old who wears the SAME 1 or 2 stained shirts and shorts EVERY day even to co-op. But they ALL get a bath at least once a week, whether they need it or not! I also have a 7 yr old who would have every label from A-Z and be on at least 6 kinds of medication if he were in “real school”. He has been obsessively talking about plants vs. Zombies for at least 45 minutes now, despite the fact that I’ve only given him a few uh huhs and an occasional nod. I know sometimes my kids look (and act) like they’re a band of hobo gypsies, but that is why I LOVE being around everyone else’s kid! Every few minutes I have the opportunity to say, “I’m so glad someone else’s kid does that too! AhHah! It’s not just me/my kids!” Makes the sanity faking that much easier! Thanks guys!

Justin Bradley 2 years ago

The author ought to feel ashamed for writing this. Chances are the kid doesn’t have a parent at home at all to button their shirt or wipe their nose. And the reason a kid begs for your constant attention is because he doesn’t get it anywhere else. Volunteer with the foster system and see how wide your eyes open. Most kids would give anything for a chance to fit in as well as her kids

Jackie Madden Boechler 2 years ago

Really? Comments below? I’m offended by you being offended and I’m going to hijack the crap outta this post to explain my findings, theories and results. THIS WAS HILARIOUS! I go on field trips – NEVER judge – you don’t want to but sometimes you wonder – trust me. Lighten up!

MaryEllen Morey Giblin 2 years ago

Honey – it was just a little field trip! Think about the teachers who sit with this 5X/week. :-)

AnnaC. 2 years ago

Loved this story! Made my day! Thank you so much. Kristen Mae, ignore the haters. They just didn’t get it. Keep doing what your doing! :)

Takitha Zito 2 years ago

Btw, we’ve all had our share of hardships. It’s a commonality among mothers that was the missed point of this read, to the ones who got offended.

Takitha Zito 2 years ago

Well, because someone is always going to get butt-hurt. You can’t please everyone, nor should you (or the author) try.

Jenni Gilbert Russo 2 years ago

To the parents of the kid who ran ahead of the group and was momentarily lost, lagged behind the group and was momentarily lost, hid from the group and was momentarily lost, and tried to head-butt everyone in the group and everyone wished he were lost: Oh, wait… that was my kid. Nevermind. – Hahahaha! And mine

jess 2 years ago

So here’s my take. Every single mom out there has a good helping of self doubt once in a while. You feel guilty for giving your kid a pop tart for breakfast. You know she wore those jeans TWO times last week and they have yet to be washed and she’s weaing them again today. You forgot to finish her math homework with her. It happensto the best of us, and somewhere in your mind, you presume that every other kid at school had an organic, well balanced breakfast and is fitted with gleaming white shirts and crisp, smelly-good jeans.
I think what AP is getting at is that everyone’s just doin’ the best they can. Not every mom is on her A-game all day every day and its reassuring to know first hand that you are not, in fact, the worst mom on the face of the playground. Kids are kids and they can be gross, they can be hyper, they can be picky eaters, regardless of how you parent them, and their outward appearances aren’t always a reflection of that.
I didn’t find this to be a mom-shaming, my-kids-are-better-than-yours article in the least.
I found it to be a “tomorrow’s another day, try again, and know that we’re all human” article. A well written one at that!

Takitha Zito 2 years ago

Some of you people should remove whatever is lodged in the back hemisphere of your panties. The story was meant to make us all feel better, and as if we aren’t alone, because we all screw up everyday. Whether it be one, or multiple points, I’ve been there. She wasn’t
being judgmental, she was making it funny. I sent three kids to summer day camp today. Two had their hair brushed. Their lunches were sandwiches made on hotdog buns and a Ziploc with cereal. I bet when they get home, there will be a total of five socks between the three of them.

Please try to retrieve said foreign object from thine anus.

    autw 1 year ago


Katy Oliver 2 years ago

This comment thread is a good, thought provoking read; while I appreciate what I *think* the writer of the piece was going for (self deprecation?humor?snarky “amirite?!”wittiness?) I agree with many here already: it sucks that she targeted kids, possibly disenfranchised parents, and made the jokey justification through mean spirited (if fleeting and/or accurate for some) judgements. It’s just an unoriginal and unfunny piece.

Janice Mattson McKearney 2 years ago

Not funny at all. I get humor about being a frazzled parent now and then and having your child do something or look somewhat less than perfect. I’m as sarcastic as they come and can joke about the light-hearted stuff. Unfortunately there are parents out there going through real hardships of life and it could be that it’s all they can do to get their child out the door fed and alive. To some going through awful illnesses, loss of income, depression, abuse, working 2 jobs, etc. it’s pouring salt in the wound to point out that you noticed their child was dirty on the field trip….or making fun of the fact that their house was foreclosed on. Even if you point out your own short sale, etc. These could be devastating times for others and pointing out their flaws pushes them down instead of lifts them up. A drastic example is….you wouldn’t go to Haiti, find a tent city and a single mom raising her children under a leaky tarp, sleeping in the mud and say ‘ha ha your kids are dirty ha ha ha but that’s ok, makes me feel better because my child went to school dirty too.’ People that are offended by this are for a reason and I don’t think it should be dismissed with a classless ‘butt hurt’ comment. We should be supporting each other so please consider why some people feel offended. All that aside, I also know you meant it to be funny but the first paragraph set the tone for how the rest was read. ….unbuttoned shirt on a field trip….to the theeAter no less….please, these innocent kids looked up to you as a helper and role model and their parents at wits end with whatever they have going on had to send them off to be judged by you. Whether you used humor to retell the story or not, you did judge them.

srsly 2 years ago

It’s all abt the mommy wars with this article. I’m not a perfect parent or a perfect person but I have enuf confidence in myself and my ability to raise a right thinking person than to compare and compete with other parents. I’m not raising your kid and you’re not raising mine. This community is all about support for parents who care enough about their child to do what ot takes to get them through each day. You are not in support of that at all. Stop fueling the fire and maybe write an article about how we should stop this sort of judgement.

Not Impressed 2 years ago

Kids noses get runny…get over it! Kids have a mind of their own…get over it! Kids have bad days…get over it! Kids have bad judgement…get over it! Some parents aren’t into the whole “helicopter” thing…get over it! What you experienced and witnessed in one day does not give you the right to pass judgement on anyone’s parenting capabilities. The fact that you are thankful for any snapshot of bad parenting means you probably need more confidence than a usual parent does in your own capabilities. Terrible article.

Sarah Walsh 2 years ago

That’s why this article made me laugh so hard. I’m always so much harder in myself than anyone else. :)

Sarah Walsh 2 years ago

My kid is amazing and special and wonderful. He hates having his hair brushed and I have to chase him down. Until the last month I had to literally hold him down, kicking and screaming to brush his teeth. When I see another kid with messy hair or mismatched clothes or a dirty face, I always see another amazing kid whose mom or dad hasn’t caught up to them yet, I don’t ever see anything wrong with the kid. Sometimes when I notice these things on my kid, I feel like I’m falling him as a parent. It’s nice to remember not to judge myself as lacking, since I don’t judge the other parents when I see these things on their kids, just myself.

Sarah Sanchez 2 years ago

Started decent – looking at her own kids face after looking at the crusties in one child and seeing the same thing. If only there had been more of that

Alison Jones Turak 2 years ago

So bashing other parents makes you feel better about yourself..awesome.

Kelsey P 2 years ago

I don’t think this article is meant to shame the other moms! I took it as hey if all the other moms struggle with this stuff too I am doing alright as a parent.

Catherine Ardis Trouteaud 2 years ago

Wow. Not a fan of this post. I usually like this page, but this was super judgmental. I thought it may be from the title, but wanted to read to make sure.

Shame on you & this writer.

I am a parent of 5 (3 adopted) and a teacher of 150+ kids a year…. This I know to be true: we all have our own struggles & demons. We don’t need to be judged.

2 of my children were adopted out of foster care, it’s all I can do to try & undo years of neglect & abuse – it’s been 7 years, and it’s crap like this that let’s me know I’m still being judged by outsiders – not on the improvements & successes of my kids, but on their fumbles. You have no idea what the kid or parent has been through/is going through.

How about this: get off your high horse, wipe that kid’s crusty nose, explain the reasons why patience is a virtue & make the time to be part of the village it takes to raise a child.

Mandie Aus Frazier 2 years ago

OMG a pre packaged PB&J, the horror!! Get off your high horse, lady. My kid’s shoes are untied ten seconds after I drop him off at school and my other kid undoes the ponytail I spent 5 minutes combing neatly with one tug at her hair band. Whatever. The energy you spent judging when you could’ve just been enjoying an outing with your kid and his/her friends is more than a little sad.

Tiffany Davis 2 years ago

It’s sad that the writer has to make herself feel better at the expense of children, other people’s misfortune and poor choices. *dislike*
Hope I never become that shallow.

Jessi Allegre 2 years ago

Do what you feel is right in your heart..for you will be judged regardless. I believe that’s an Ellen Roosevelt quote.

Now…let’s all clean something so we can be rewarded with wine later ;-)…or if you already cleaned, let’s wine now.

Sarah Lowery 2 years ago

Just what I needed today! Thanks!

Christina Gmama 2 years ago

Sooooo happy to say that neither I, nor my husband had lice as children. And no, we were not homeschooled.

Jason Katherine Songer 2 years ago

love it, especially being a mom and a school bus driver lol!

Heaven Price 2 years ago

People should take care of their children but you don’t know the issues the family is going through. Don’t be so quick to judge. It is however unacceptable to send your child to school with poor hygiene. Children get lice and they will get it many times being in close proximity to other children in school. It can’t be helped the best thing you can do is treat it and hope they don’t catch it again for a while. Some family’s can’t afford the best lunch, clothes, and housing. There is nothing wrong with living in a trailer. The child is safe with a roof over their heads! You may feel better about yourself but keep it to yourself. Some parents really try and do the best they can for their kids you shouldn’t shit all over that.

    autw 1 year ago

    Lice can be helped. Not once did I have it as a child. She wasn’t making fun of the kid with the new motorhome, pool with a slide, and a new 4 wheeler, she might’ve been throwing a little shade at the parents bc they were living above their means. Who else would have a foreclosure, then get all new stuff?

hfjdshfuj 2 years ago

fawk is it hard to look at this, american trash i bet that wrote this….( yes if you are american you are garbage to the rest of the world)

hfjdshfuj 2 years ago

blah blah blah blah blah, this is trying to be nice to such disrespectful ignorance, and if you dont understand what im saying then point proven. stfu period

Ellie McDonald 2 years ago

Haha aww your so sweet! Thank you Sayonna Lopez that article made me laugh, can’t deny that sometimes on my days when my patience is being tested running into another mom who is a lose cannon does lift me up abit for keeping it together just Alittle more than others but still stinks for the kids… Thanks for sharing this!

Christy Adam Moskovitz 2 years ago

Ha! Well, I guess now I know what the mommy chaperones think of me when I shove my kid out the door in the valet line, secretly hoping there’s a mom there that’s lucky enough to have time on a weekday to keep an eye on him during the field trip, since I can’t be there myself. While I’m at work, thinking, “I hope he has fun,” you are with him, checking out his unkempt hair. But hey, at least I’m making you feel better about yourself?

Margo Caraway 2 years ago

Sooooo, I’m pretty sure I just had some LBL (light bladder leakage) from laughing So Hard!!! I must share the unarguable wisdom that I pulled outta my butt the other day while arguing with my six year old daughter… We were in the circle of “whys”… I simply told her, “because I’m a grown-up and you’re a kid… And, I have AlReady been a kid, BUT You’ve Never been a grown-up!” Hah!!! Stunned her silent for at least a few days!!! Lol

Mary Widdicks 2 years ago

I’m now both terrified and excited to chaperone a field trip. Thanks…I think 😉

I Love To Play! 2 years ago

It’s all typical parenting examples. Chances are, your kids are these kids at one point or another and so are hers. There is no perfect parent and no perfect child.

jen 2 years ago

Mg child had no idea what lunchables were until other kids had them and she begged. So I gave in. Now it is a special treat, like for field trip days (and random other occassions). Guess I should rethink that one, huh?

    Kristen Mae of Abandoning Pretense 2 years ago

    Of course not – The point is that NONE of us are perfect! Let’s just do the best we can and laugh at ourselves! =)

Amanda Horner George 2 years ago

Eeek! I love this page but hated this blog and almost felt offended by it which is odd! I am hard to offend.

Erin 2 years ago

LoL!! 😛 thx so much for the laughs, I’m chaperoning my sons kindergarten field trip to the zoo for the 1st time- I’m afraid, very afraid 😉

Josie Abshier 2 years ago

Is the air thin so far up there on your high horse? The self depreciation doesn’t soften the true nature of this piece. Satire is difficult. This one misses the mark.

Adrianne Johnston 2 years ago

I chaperoned a school wide trip to the movies where I sat with my 1st grader. The little girl on the other side of me talked the entire time about her mother’s depression…1st grade!!! What my kids must say (1st, 4th and 8th)! I go on my 4th grade son’s trip this Friday…wish me luck!

Amber Myshell 2 years ago

I admit I look forward to seeing somewhat frazzled, chaotic moms at stores, but not because they make me feel like a better parent, I just feel less alone in this world when a mom is trying to keep a baby happy, while making sure the preschooler is still following, and the first grader wants the IPhone now….

Keri Taylor 2 years ago

I suddenly don’t feel so bad

Sarah Fritz-Maldonado 2 years ago

Lol hilarious and as a parent to both a teen and infants no matter how clean a home or how on top if things a person is kids are going to be as gross as they want… Either they’ll be comfortable enough to do it in front of you or they don’t trust you and will do worse gross things behind your back either way enjoy the ride

Heath Maull 2 years ago

Wow lots of butthurt feelings. You always have the option to not read the post. This is SM’s blog, not yours. If you want to regulate content, write your own blog about positivity, fairy farts and sunshine. I’ll stick with SM’s humorous take on reality. If you’re offended cause your kid eats a crap lunch, accept your decision to allow your kids to do so and own it. Justifying your actions degrades us both. I have to go check on my perfect child now because I am a perfect mom. It’s ok if he’s sitting in a pile of his own excrement chewing on an electrical cord, right? At least he doesn’t have lice and a grill.

Jen West 2 years ago

And unfortunately there’s always that one kid whose parents forgot to pack a lunch AND didn’t fill out the form to buy a prepackaged school lunch. On my first kindergarten field trip I learned to PACK EXTRA STUFF so my kid could share if needed.

Brandy Fee 2 years ago

Lighten up people! If this made you mad or upset or feel judged, then you felt that way BEFORE reading this. It’s HUMOR. And it’s nothing everyone of us hasn’t THOUGHT at some point. The only difference is that some of us aren’t as worried about being PC or “mean.” And if you say you’ve NEVER had thoughts about another kid’s parents, you’re full of shit!! Rock on Scary Mommy!!

WriterMom Angela 2 years ago

Yes, yes, yes! I always say nothing makes me appreciate how non-awful my children are like spending time with other people’s children and nothing makes me feel like a better parent than witnessing other people’s parenting up close!

Elisa Corona Watkins 2 years ago

This is wonderful and so true.

Jennifer Osso 2 years ago

My kids definitely fall into some if these categories and you know what I’m ok with that. No parent does everything perfectly, and I’d worry if they did. It probably would mean they spend more energy making everything perfect than actually spend quality time with their kids. Your kids are not going to remember the Pinterest perfect birthday parties or the organic gluten free surprises you made them but they will remember the awesome forts you built, going puddle jumping, building snowmen.. So long story short we all notice those crusty booger, disheveled kids and feel good to know we are not the only ones with “those kids”. That I believe is the point this author was trying to make.

Ursula Gehrke 2 years ago

It’s quite simple. I’m Swedish, i.e English is not my first language, and if you don’t read this article as satire you need to go back to school.
Well written. Funny. Hilarious. And yes….I Thank God I’m not the only mother who drops her kids off at school realizing, too late of course, that one didn’t actually brush their teeth hence dragon breath alert when I kiss bye, bye, and the other didn’t wipe his bottom properly so therefore has got itchy bottom syndrome and I forgot an extra pair of pants today so off to the toilet he goes and it’s commando for the day. Number three gets to come home with me so the crusty snot won’t be an issue for another couple of years.
To the author:
It’s not bad writing, it’s bad reading by people who have too low self esteem to laugh at themselves, just like many have no problems with commenting on others, thinking they’re being funny, and then get angry and self defensive when the joke is on them.
THOSE are the people I want to stay away from and why I read Scary Mommy. Thank you for making me laugh out loud today…

    hfjdshfuj 2 years ago

    your a shit parent and for a language you say you cant speak you do it better then most americans

      Kristen Mae of Abandoning Pretense 2 years ago



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