After my kids were born, I drove myself crazy trying to be the perfect mom. Every meal was a picture-perfect example of nutritional excellence, all screen time strictly adhered to the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations, bed and bath time routines were militaristic operations, and God save the mother-in-law who dared to suggest skipping naptime.
Then I went back to work, and it all went to hell.
Meals went from flaxseed and spinach infused pasta sauce to Trader Joe’s frozen pizzas. Our strictly regimented screen time schedule turned into me falling asleep on the couch while my oldest showed his sister how to work the controls for LEGO Star Wars. And baths became not only dependent on whether they smelled, but on how badly.
It was wonderful!
Sure, the mommy guilt weighed me down like cement footwear, but guilt’s just part and parcel of being a mom, and nothing short of a sledgehammer and icepick was freeing me from that. So why add all the stress to the mix? The house was a mess, the laundry piled so high I could have lost a child in there, and dog hair floated across my kitchen floor like tumbleweeds in the desert, but I felt great! I was yelling less, smiling more and my kids were still doing just fine.
And that’s when it occurred to me… if my kids could learn to defeat the dark side using naught but a lightsaber and impressive fine motor skills, then surely, they could learn some basic self-care. I mean, did I really need to manage every morsel of food or drop of liquid they consumed? Would they perish if they got their own cereal at the crack of dawn on Saturday morning instead of dragging me or their father out of bed to do it for them?
So what if they spilled something? They could clean it up. And if they didn’t? I was sure the smell would tip us off… eventually.
Soon, the lowest quadrants of the pantry and refrigerator were taken over by snacks, kid cups and plates were relocated to the bottom cabinets, and my label maker — a once sad and lonely device — was now working overtime. I labeled everything: toy bins, clothes drawers, kitchen cabinets and shelves. The downside to this, as it turned out, was that my youngest decided labeling things was great fun and proceeded to label everything from the dog’s bowls to the doorknobs, until my house looked like it had been ransacked by a deranged preschool teacher.
While the labeling might have been a parenting fail, most of my efforts did pay off. Over the past few years, my kids have graduated from snacking on fruit and Goldfish crackers to cooking their own fish sticks and stovetop mac-and-cheese. Even better, in fulfillment of her never-ending quest for chocolate, my daughter taught herself a bit of baking. Given, her cookies may have been more like charcoal briquettes at first, but she has since refined the process to an exact science, and though her sweet tooth is sated, my waistline may never recover.
Before you think my laziness only applies to basic sustenance and grooming, I assure you it does not. I am especially lazy when it comes to their schooling. I don’t keep track of their homework or remind them when they have tests, and if they miss an assignment, they get a zero. ‘Cause that’s life, bub. That doesn’t mean I don’t care about their grades; I fully expect straight “A”s (and the occasional B for a difficult subject). Which is incredibly hypocritical considering what an appalling student I was, but I digress.
You see, my kids are to video games what I am to coffee—completely and utterly obsessed. If I could have a catheter into my veins that imparted that sweet liquid on me 24-7, I would be a happy woman. Likewise, if my children could have a direct video game feed to their brains, it would be their version of child utopia. However, just as I turn into a raving monster when I don’t get my morning cup of joe, my kids are miserable without their games. Therein lies my true power as their mother (cue in the evil laughter). The power to cut the cord. Oh, and it is a miserable thing to watch them mope about aimlessly, their fingers twitching at the loss of their controllers, but it works. Every time.
For the other lazy moms out there, you probably already guessed where this is going, but for you perfect moms who are probably gasping in horror at your MacBook Pros, I’m going to spell it out for you. In the end, our success as parents will not be measured by how often we did little Johnny’s homework or whether we only allowed our kids to snack on rice cakes and spinach smoothies. It will be about how well we’ve prepared them for when we are no longer around to do all those things.
At twelve and fifteen, my kids can cook basic meals, run the dishwasher, as well as launder, fold and put away their own clothes. It’s on them to get up with their alarm each morning, to turn in assignments and make themselves lunch. They know that Mommy isn’t going to run in and save the day every time they mess up because part of growing up is learning that your actions have consequences. And when that fateful day arrives for them to strike out on their own, they will be confident, capable and possessing the skills they need to navigate the murky waters of adulthood, all thanks to their lazy mom.
Though they may, admittedly, still be a little stinky.