My kids are pissed at me right now.
Why? Well, it could be any number of reasons. I’m their mother — not their friend — and they don’t always like me. They get pissed.
Do I want a healthy relationship with my kids? Of course. Do I want them to love and respect me? Yep. Do I want them to trust me and know that I am their safe place, biggest advocate, and strongest defender? You fucking bet.
But their friend? Nope. No, thank you. I am their Mom, not their friend.
And unfortunately that Mom-Not-Friend role means they are often pissed at me. In fact, I don’t mean to brag, but I have earned the title of World’s Meanest Mom more than once. And you know what? I’m perfectly fine with that.
Because here’s the thing: I don’t think I need to be friends with my kids, or even that I should be friends with them. I sure as hell wouldn’t let a friend get away with the shit my kids do sometimes, but they are little and it’s my job to help them learn along the way. And to do that, sometimes I need to be the World’s Meanest Mom. And sometimes my kids will get pissed at me.
I’m a fairly permissive parent about lots things — most things even — but that doesn’t mean my kids aren’t pissed at me on the regular. If I say “yes” to some junk food, my kids might get pissed at me if I buy barbecue chips that are too red or if I put said too-red chips in the orange bowl instead of the blue bowl. If I say yes to more screen time, they will get pissed when I eventually pull the plug, whether that’s after 10 minutes or 10 hours. Because inevitably, with every “yes,” there comes a request for more and a subsequently pissed off child.
Given the amount of time we spend driving here and there and everywhere, they are often pissed at me in the car. I piss my kids off when I drive too slow or sing along with the radio, and heaven forbid, when I sing the correct lyrics instead of the incorrect, made-up nonsensical lyrics they think are the right ones. You know what I do when they get pissed at me for singing along with the radio? Sing louder. I piss my kids off when I drop them off at school too late (and by “late,” I mean 10 minutes early because my kids like to kibitz with their friends before school) and I really piss them off when I pull up to the front of the carpool line (like you are supposed to do!) instead of letting them jump out of a moving car right in front of the school doors. Believe me, there have been many a morning when goodbyes and I love you’s were said through gritted teeth.
And you know what else I do that really pisses my kids off? I dash their hopes of living in a squalor and filth. I do really awful things like wash their clothes and blankies. I guess they like to cuddle up with a grimy rag of foulness when they go to bed. And if they get pissed about cleaning their beloved blankies, you can only imagine the havoc I wreak on their quest for foulness when I make them take a shower — and actually use soap. And if they have to wash their hair? Well, let’s just say that earned me an epic tantrum to go with the World’s Meanest Mom title. You know how that ended? With a shower that included soap and shampoo, goddammit.
But these things alone might not be enough to qualify someone for the title of World’s Meanest Mom. Nope. I know it takes more than showers and laundry and the wrong potato chips to earn that right. This isn’t my first rodeo, folks. It takes things like compliments and displays of affection. You know, saying things like, “What a cool drawing!” or “I like your shirt,” and hugging them too tight before bed.
Cooking for them and cleaning up after their messy asses are often a good way to earn Meanest Mom tally marks. For instance, I’ve been able to piss my kids off by putting cheese in a grilled cheese and cutting said cheese-less grilled cheese into squares instead of triangles. And if you’re looking for a surefire way to piss a kid off? Just clean up the Legos that have been lying in the middle of the kitchen floor untouched for five days because he was “still playing with them.”
I piss my kids off a thousand different ways about a thousand times a day. OK, I’m exaggerating. It’s only in the hundreds. But I’m totally fine with that. OK, that’s also an exaggeration. I accept it — because I’m not my kids’ friend.
But I get to be something even better than their friend. I get to be their mom.
And if that means pissing my kids off on the regular, so be it.
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