Dear Kids: If You Want Your Nice Mom Back, We Need To Talk

by Kathy Radigan
Originally Published: 
nice mom
Highwaystarz-Photography / iStock

Lately, I have started to sound like a drill sergeant in the morning. I bark out commands: “Brush your teeth.” “Pack your lunch.” “For the love of God, haven’t you put your clothes on yet?” “Don’t forget to put deodorant on. You don’t want to be smelly.”

I use a loud voice meant to carry over the sounds of music, kids, and the TV news. That I use this voice in between trying to have an adult conversation with my husband about the latest political news or what is going on in the world makes me irresistible to him, I just know it.

I have turned into “that” mom, the woman depicted in a million sitcoms.

I’m the bad guy. I’m the parent that says, “You can’t go out until you clean your room.” “No, I don’t think it’s a good idea that you dumped all your Legos all over the living room. Clean them up. Now. Now. Now!”

I have been hearing from my sweeties that I’m a mean mom and their dad is much nicer.

And you know what? I don’t mind it in the least.

In fact, I see it as my job. It’s the one I signed up for almost 18 years ago when my first baby came into the world, and my husband and I decided that I would stay home.

He has a long commute and gets home late. I’m the one who is home with the kids day in and day out. Yes, I have to be the one who lays down the law most of the time. But I also get a lot of the good stuff too.

I feel very grateful that I’m the one my kids come home to. I love watching them grow up. But the fact that my kids, now 17, 14, and 11, have been complaining that I have been employing my “Mean Mom” routine much more frequently has gotten me thinking. I do sort of miss my cheerier self. Since my words seem to be ringing hollow lately, I have decided to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and let them know what it will take to get more frequent appearances of “Nice Mom.”

Dear kids,

Please feel free to hate me. I get it. The world is a tough place, and we all need somebody safe to get mad at. I’m cool if that is me.

I am not cool (not in the slightest) with being spoken to in anything but a civil tone. So if you are going to express your negative feelings to me, please use big words and say it as politely as possible.

One example could be: “Dear Mother, the rule that says I must not end my brother’s existence because he ‘accidentally’ destroyed the CD collection it took me years to curate seems grossly unfair and unjust. I have very negative feelings toward you, him, and all of humankind, and will need to retire to my room until I have sufficiently recovered.”

I assure you that if you express yourself appropriately, I will return the favor. You will also find yourself grounded less.

Also, if I ask you to do something, do it the first time I ask you. I get it; you are teens and preteens. You are legally required to be more difficult. But if you want a nicer mom, be a nicer child.

I have no problem with you fixing your own snack. In fact, I highly encourage it. But if I come into the kitchen to what looks like a crime scene, do not be surprised if my voice goes up a few octaves. And don’t say, “But I was just going to clean it up. You walked in too early.”

Since we are talking about eating, we must eat like human beings (you know who I’m talking to). If we refuse to eat like human beings, then yes, I will get annoyed and ask you to leave the table. I might make a joke the first time and tell you that your great-grandmother just fainted in heaven watching you eat your pasta. But after that, it’s Mean Mom time.

And for the love of all that is holy, it is not a surprise that you have to put on clothes, shoes, brush your teeth, and get washed each morning for school. If you don’t like me to yell in the morning, then get ready. It’s not that hard. I do it every day and with not much sleep, thank you very much.

If you follow these simple rules, I assure you the nicer, less stressed-out mom you have come to know and love will reappear. Well, at least after she’s had her morning coffee.

Much love,


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