Most of the time, I am such a mom.
As a mom, I’m supposed to care about everything: growth charts and grades, bedtime stories, brushed teeth and bowel movements. And I do. I care about checking homework folders and attitudes, about making the team, the dental appointments, nutritious little snacks, and memories. I’m a multitasking mofo. I plan. I punish. I pin shit on Pinterest, and then sometimes, I actually make that shit, for chrissakes! Most of the time, I mom so hard, y’all. I’m on the ball. I read all 36 end-of-the-year emails from the PTA. I show up for all 36 special assemblies, on time, wearing a freaking bra and everything. I do. I’m a mom.
Most of the time.
But sometimes? Sometimes I am simply a very tired person—a person too damn tired to juggle it all. I want to tell everyone, including my kids and the PTA, to juggle my balls, OK? I’m exhausted. I’m all mommed out. When motherhood has left me barely functioning, I start phoning it in. These are not my finest moments, but over the years I’ve noticed a few signs that I am officially too tired to mom:
1. I’m throwing in the towel.
Literally. Because invariably, some little a-hole is peeing in my bed in the middle of the night. The first few incidents, I woke right up and thought, “Oh no! Oh, heavens me, I must change these sheets immediately!” Uh huh. The fifth time it happened, I threw a towel over that shit and went back to sleep. Cat vomit in the hall? Throw a towel over it. Someone spill an entire Icee in the car? Towel. My gut spilling over my bikini bottoms at the pool? Giant towel.
2. Parties: Kill me
So fun in theory, right? No. For school parties, sometimes I bake homemade treats and spend all afternoon helping to make crafts in the classroom. And then, there are the times I can barely muster a drive-by to throw a box of donuts at the front office. For birthdays, I’m that mom, sweaty and sprinting through Target, wrapping a present in the parking lot 10 minutes after the party has started. My own children’s parties over the years have mostly been torturous affairs that we farm out to places with names like the “Trampoline ‘n’ Pizza Petri Dish” and “Build-a-Bankruptcy.”
3. My FOMO is gone-o.
FOMO (or “fear of missing out”) is that feeling you are not in on the latest thing friends are posting about or special activities other moms are doing to make their kids’ lives sooo magical, 24/7. To that I say eff you, FOMO. I no longer give a shit.
4. Empathy…yeah…no, that’s gone too.
The other day I saw a large pile of some child’s vomit while walking into the mall. How do I know it was a child? It was 90% Goldfish crackers. My first thought was not, Oh, poor little lamb. It was more like, YAY, NOT MINE!
5. Rules? What are those?!
I’m a hard-ass about rules. No kids in our bed, no food upstairs, no phones at the dinner table. I mean it, dammit. Until some child, animal, or combo thereof is in my bed eating nachos because I am too broken down to fight it. Saturday morning I stumbled into the kitchen to find my child quietly sitting at the table eating breakfast, which she had made herself. Yes, it was ice cream and it was 9 a.m., but did you hear the part about making it herself? Quietly? Ice cream is made with milk. I poured my coffee and gave her a half-hearted thumbs up because, yay, Milk! Calcium! Breakfast of champions. Whatever.
6. Climbing laundry mountain
Just pick your clothes out of the dryer, kids, and be grateful they finally made it to the actual dryer.
When the Lunchables and Hot Pockets make an appearance in the fridge, you know mamma has tapped out for the week. (See also: No. 5, Ice Cream at 9 a.m.) This goes for dinner too. I made a roast on Sunday; they said it was gross. I made pasta primavera on Monday; they picked out the pasta. I made turkey tacos on Tuesday; they complained about the guacamole.
Who the hell complains about guacamole?!
By Wednesday, I am all out of kale and fucks. Except I’m just out of fucks because I’d never even attempt to get my kids to eat dirt salad if they won’t eat guacamole. On Wednesday we are driving straight through the golden arches, or if they’re lucky, I might reach into the deep recesses of the freezer and pull out an array of the finest processed protein I can find and slap it on a paper plate. Boom! Maybe I’ll give them a courtesy squirt of some ketchup, you know, as a vegetable. Crap: It’s what’s for dinner!
8. I suck at following through with punishments.
See also: No. 5. This is gonna hurt me way more than it hurts you, kid, because that iPad I took away is my only link to peaceful tranquility for five fucking minutes.
9. Shortcuts become my life.
Why rack your brain coming up with original bedtime stories when you can just relay the movie plot of the ’80s classic, Can’t Buy Me Love? Why pull out the vacuum when you can just call the dog over? He licks all the stray crumbs, gets a meal and the floor gets clean. Multitasking! See also: No. 1, the towel. See also: I am disgusting.
Bribes, threats, and nagging are my main parenting tools when I’m tired. I know my kid’s “currency,” and it is…well, um, currency.
11. My daughter is sleeping in her clothes. Again.
My feral tween daughter is finally, finally asleep. Are you gonna wake her up to put the proper sleepwear on her? Yeah. Didn’t think so. Shut up.
12. Sometimes I drop the F-bomb.
Sometimes, I am too fucking tired to censor myself.
13. I don’t bother to break up fights.
If I hear screeching upstairs, I’m pretty much going to ignore it. Besides, I’ve got 10 bucks on the little one. She has a mean right hook.
14. Minecraft is my babysitter.
Pretty sure my kids played Minecraft for six hours straight while I wrote this article. Haven’t you heard? Minecraft is very educational according to a fascinating article I tried to read before falling into a deep sleep.
15. I tell my kids to go away. Often.
My darling children, you are the light of my life, the very reason I breathe. Now get the hell out of my face. I would rather have cruise ship diarrhea than play Chutes and Ladders one more time. Right this minute, I’m hiding in the bathroom to avoid your detailed description of the 400 characters on Pokémon, which you will tell me about through the door anyway.
16. I’ve become OK with having quitters.
My daughter is super-passionate about all extracurricular activities right up until the moment we pay our non-refundable deposit and buy $300 worth of crap she must have. Then she whines about quitting until she breaks our spirit. When my son wanted to quit soccer, we gave him a long talk about commitment and follow-through, teamwork, and yada yada yada. Then my spouse and I went into the other room and did a happy dance about having our weekends back.
17. I am a lying liar.
I lie on the reading log. And the saxophone log. I bought 27 boxes of my own child’s fundraising World’s Finest Chocolate. I used to skip entire pages of bedtime stories until those little shits learned to read. I cheat at Candy Land to get it over with. “Gee, I don’t know where your Despicable Me Fart Blaster is…” (in the fucking trash). I also maybe may have once said Chuck E. Cheese’s burned down. Maybe.
18. Buying my freedom
Yes, yes, fine, whatever, I will gladly buy you both Mango Tango Twist and Waikiki Coconut Splash spray and the coordinating candle to avoid spending one more second of my life inside the smelly hell that is Bath & Body Works. Yes, son, go ahead and get two shark-tooth necklaces before they turn out the lights and lock us in this souvenir store and we have to live under this hermit crab habitat. Fine. I just want to go home. *cries softly*
19. My child is wearing that gross Halloween T-shirt. Again. And it’s June.
This shirt is two sizes too small and needs to die a fiery death, but I say nothing. I don’t have the mental fortitude for this battle today. Let’s face it: She’ll probably fall sleep in it later.
Did I say 20 signs? I’m too tired to think of one more. I’ll do better tomorrow. We will all mom better tomorrow.