Dear Kids: Stop Airing My Dirty Laundry!

by Keenan McGrath
dear kids

Dear children whom I love more than life,

We need to have a little chat. I thought we were a team, a pack, a band of merry men. I thought we were in this together…but apparently not.

Look, your mother isn’t perfect, and I don’t always have my shit together at home, but do you really have to rat me out to the rest of the world? There are enough folks out there to judge me and find me lacking. Can’t I have a little break from my own family? I mean I did, like, give you life, and I pay all the bills and feed you semi-regularly. I thought you knew on which side your bread was peanut-buttered. Instead, you somehow manage to call me out on the regular for deeds which are largely misunderstandings (mostly). But regardless of the truth to your tales, can you just lie or fake it or shut the hell up?

Like if you get off the bus and I am not immediately standing in front of you, can you maybe walk in the direction of our house where you will see me hurrying toward you, instead of throwing yourself across the neighbor’s lawn claiming abandonment?

Must you slip into every conversation with our friends that “Mommy forgot about picture day” and sent you to school in a ratty T-shirt with tangled hair? Look here, you little shit: I did not forget picture day. I am simply not going to pay $50 for a bunch of wallet-sized photos (that do not actually fit in my wallet) of hair you refused to brush and a weird outfit you insisted on wearing in front of a fake forest background, after I just suffered through a full family photo shoot in actual nature a few weeks before. Just like I didn’t forget to give you money for the school book fair. If you wanted to buy a collection of classics by Louisa May Alcott, we could talk. But you want to buy a yearbook of your favorite Disney teen stars with a detachable poster for your bedroom wall, so sorry, fresh outta cash.

And thank you so much for the beautiful Mother’s Day card that your preschool teacher helpfully filled out for you that listed “Mommy’s favorite thing to do” as sleeping. Did you maybe wanna mention that Mommy hasn’t slept through the night in over seven years because of small people, not unlike yourself, with phantom pains and made-up nightmares who crawl into her bed and kick her awake every 20 minutes? Is it possible that Mommy deserves those few extra minutes and wouldn’t need them in the first place if everyone would just sleep in their own damn bed? Maybe next time you could include: bike riding, cake baking, puzzle building, or any of the hundreds of activities Mommy does with you when she would rather be sleeping!

Maybe you don’t understand how showing someone your extensive collection of Happy Meal toys is actually exposing the number of meals you eat that involve French fries, but let’s keep the frequency of our drive-thru trips on the DL, please.

For future reference, when the art project is making drums out of empty household items, I would prefer that you not suggest that the church preschool use “all Mommy’s empty boxes of wine.” First of all, Daddy drank some of that wine too, and secondly, I was planning on using those for an art project of my own. I’m going to build a secret fort of wine boxes only big enough for myself and call it Mommy’s House of Zin.

Also, can we stop with the over-dramatizations? Telling your teacher you can’t raise your arm because of the horrible sunburn your shoulders have suffered because of Mommy’s negligent sunscreen application is just ridiculous. For the love of God, you were outside for barely 30 minutes and your shoulders are barely even pink! Please, report me to child services, and make sure you include in your statement how I was “trying to kill you” the time I pulled over the car and asked you to switch places with your brother so he wouldn’t hurl all over the back seat. Clearly I’m a monster.

Look, kid, I’m not saying I’m a perfect mother. I make mistakes. I forget things. That slack-ass Tooth Fairy who didn’t leave you a dollar last night, yeah my bad.

But you’re alive, healthy, and relatively socially adjusted—that’s a win in my book. Since you clearly need to air these grievances, if you would please just write them in your journal for a session with your future therapist, instead of broadcasting all my parental failings to the neighborhood, that would be just fabulous.

Oh, and make me a copy so that I can read them back to you in 20 years when your kid reports to Grandma that she was forced to buy an ice cream from the cafeteria because Mommy never gives her enough lunch.

With all my love,