There are very few things that we can be certain of in this life. Oprah Winfrey used to write this column on the last page of her magazine entitled, “What I know for sure”. I was always impressed that she found something to write about in this column every month. I would run out of things that I know for sure after the first month. But here is one of the only things I know for sure: My kids are probably going to need therapy someday.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course. I came to terms with it a while ago, which I think will be helpful for all involved. I am also a person of great insight, and so I realize that many of the issues they will have to work through in therapy will be my fault, of course. Plus, everyone always blames the mother.
Anyhoo, I have been compiling this mental list for quite some time now. It is a running list, with new items being added monthly, because why stop when you’re on a roll, right?
1. I make excuses not to play with them.
I hate playing. So. Much. Why is this? My husband likes to play. I like to sit quietly by myself. Sometimes I will play Legos, because that is not so bad. You can sit quietly while you play Legos, and unless there is some crazy special piece that everyone needs at the same time, it is usually a nice, peaceful activity without a lot of conflict. Playing pretend? Fuggetaboutit. I hate playing pretend. There is nothing fun about getting bossed around by a mini-dictator, who believes she should have total control over every word you utter.
“Mom, pretend I’m a butterfly, and you’re a bee”.
“OK, hi butterfly, I’m Beatrice the bee!”
“NO MOM, you are a boy bee! The girl bee is the queen and she stays in the hive! Your name can’t be Beatrice!”
“OK, hi butterfly, I’m Benny the bee!”
“NO MOM, bees don’t talk they buzz!”
“OK, sorry. BUZZZZZZ. Oh wait, I think I heard the dryer buzz, gotta go take those sheets out immediately before they wrinkle…why don’t you play with your brother for a while?”
And don’t even get me started on board games. Board games bring out the worst in my children, I am convinced of it. But time will go by and I will forget the pain, the fighting, the weeping because they didn’t get to go first, or they had to go directly to jail, or they got stuck on a licorice spot, thereby delaying their journey to the Candy Castle. Or I will remember that one time we all played without fighting. And then the next thing you know, there we are playing The Game of Life on a family night and everything is going fine UNTIL someone doesn’t like their salary card and they got the mobile home and they spun a 10 twice in a row and NOW THEY PASSED ALL THE BABIES AND WHY CAN’T I HAVE ANY BABIES???
So yeah, go play with your dad.
2. I take them with me to my bikini waxes.
Listen, sometimes a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. It takes a lot of effort for a pasty girl with dark hair to not turn into a hairy beast, and I can’t always hire a babysitter every time. I figure it’s payback for watching The Wiggles repeatedly from 2007-2012. My daughter actually seems to enjoy the experience. She will climb right up on the bed with me and chat up the esthetician, helpfully pointing out to her if she misses a spot. My son once told me he doesn’t want to be a grown up, because he doesn’t want to have to get “sticky wack on his crotch”. I stopped taking him with me for a while after that because, boundaries.
3. I lie to them.
Sometimes, you just can’t tell your kids the whole, honest-to-goodness truth. It’s not always developmentally appropriate. It’s not always in their best interest. Sometimes, the truth would interfere with
my plans to eat most of their Halloween candy their health or well-being. In my defense, if you can’t lie to your kids, who can you lie to?
4. I throw away their art projects.
I realize that these works of art they bring home are precious. I know they are a source of pride and that this season of construction paper turkeys and paper airplanes and egg-carton caterpillars coated in glitter will be over before I know it. But seriously, where am I supposed to put all this stuff? I tried asking the kids to sort out what they wanted to keep and what we could toss. That went over just as you would expect it to. Of course they don’t want to throw anything away! How could I possibly suggest such a thing? Instead, I wait until they are outside or asleep, bury that stuff in the bottom of the trash bag, carefully cover it with something icky, make sure nothing is visible through the side of the bag, and take it right out to the garage as the Mission Impossible theme plays in the background.
5. I lie to them about throwing away their art projects.
Because no good could come from telling the truth in this situation.
6. We have fun at their expense.
We don’t get out much anymore. We have to make our own fun. So is it really so bad if we blow off a little steam by putting a temporary tattoo on our baby’s butt cheek?
I know, you wish you had thought of that first, and now your child is too old for you to do that to them. Don’t worry. Just be creative. There are lots of ways for you to have fun at your child’s expense.
7. I give them mixed messages about conflict management.
If my kids are having a fight on, say, Saturday at 10 am, after I have had my coffee, I usually sit down with them, listen to both sides of the story, encourage them to share their feelings with each other and with me, and model for them how we can reach an acceptable compromise while being respectful of one another. I am like Danny Tanner sitting on the foot of DJ’s bed, having a feel-good Full House moment. Everyone feels affirmed, and I pat myself on the back for a job well done.
However, if my kids happen to be fighting at 7 pm on a Monday night after a long day, Danny Tanner is not available to help. There are no special moments wherein we learn from mommy how to solve problems in a mutually agreeable and respectful way. It is more likely to go something like this:
Child: “Mooooooom, he/she won’t stop ______ (bothering me, following me, looking at me, touching me, hitting me, farting near me, etc.)
Me: “I don’t care. I don’t want to hear about it”.
Child: “But mom, I keep saying stop and he/she won’t stop and…”
Me: “I SAID I DON’T WANT TO HEAR ABOUT IT! You need to solve your own problems or you’re both going right to bed!”
It appears that I am only fit to teach conflict management skills when fully rested and recently caffeinated.
8. I don’t care when they have a little boo-boo.
When your mom is a nurse, you better not go to her with a paper cut or a hangnail and expect much sympathy, because you will get laughed off the stage. My children still have not learned this, and routinely come to me with microscopic, sometimes completely invisible boo-boos. Try as I might, I cannot muster the response they are looking for.
9. I feel proud when the display borderline OCD behaviors.
I am type A, to the core, and proud of it. Why fight it? I make it work for me. My kids sort their candy by color before they eat it, and I totally get that. The other day my son was bored and I found him in the basement sorting all the toys, knee-deep in labels and organizing bins. I had to choke back the proud mommy tears. After he was done, he said, “Phew, that made me feel so much better! It was a wreck down there!” I know son, I know. Sorting and purging is deep soul work. Now go clean the garage and see what that does for you.
10. I am completely unable to “mom” after 8:30.
I don’t know what happens to me after a certain hour. I just can’t. Not anymore. So if you call out for mom past the witching hour, prepare for an eyeroll and a snappy response. If you think that we are going to drag out the bedtime routine, you’ve got another thing coming. If you have to vomit in the night, I will hand you a barf bucket and wish you good luck. I am available for the general supervision of unconscious children only. You can count on me to get you out if there is a fire, but that’s it.
Don’t worry though, kids. I started a savings account a few years back. We’ll use it to cover the therapy bills.