Bad Moms are All Relative

Did I tell you all already that I take perverse pleasure in witnessing bad parenting? I think I did, but I may have dreamed it. If you’ve heard this already, go check your Facebook page. I’ll be right here when you get back, probably talking about something else.

I get a borderline sick satisfaction with seeing people be bad with their kids. Not bad bad, like hitting them or verbally abusing them. Not any Britney Spearisms. And not my kids, of course.

But stuff like letting them misbehave and not showing the stones to discipline them in public, or making them dress in color coordinated outfits when you know they don’t want to.

My daughter tells me this makes me feel better about my own mediocre parenting and the mistakes I’ve made. OK, now I know I’ve gone over this before, because I told you about the time I made same daughter walk around with a broken wrist for six days before I took her for X-rays.

So you can imagine how giddy I was to read my friend and fellow blogger Mary McCarthy’s gift to me this week: Her blog 10 Reasons Why I Am a Crappy Mom.

Many mommy bloggers admit their mistakes as a backhanded way to bragging about how cool and genuine they are. (“I let the kids finger paint in my bed this morning! Like my house isn’t messy enough!" *Shrug* ) Not Mary. She admits all of her mistakes, even the really bad ones, even the ones nobody would ever have to know about, if she could just keep her mouth shut. Mary makes her house sound like a frat party. A frat party where kids are crying because their mom let them watch R-rated movies. There are bloody corpses decorating the front porch at Halloween, babies are left to sleep on their stomachs and battle SIDS with their own meager devices, children are pushed onto a public school bus every morning and told to deal with the bullies because there are bullies in real life, too, and everybody’s eating canned vegetables with salt.

I want to go to her house. Not because that sounds fun (although the R-rated movies and canned peas hold some allure); there have got to be at least two of the four kids bawling at any given moment. But because compared to her, I’m a big box of restraint with an apron and pearls.

My biggest accomplishment as a good mom will never be recognized, though. For my children, I gave up the glory and praise that comes with being really, really funny. I’m so much more funny than I appear. Really, I am. But I keep the funniest lines inside my mouth, because if I said them aloud, my kids would faint with shock over how nasty and politically incorrect their mother is.

I decided a long time ago to follow my own mom’s path and try to be the nicest, most likable person on the planet (or at least in Hubbard, Ohio). It came naturally to my mom, but I’ve had to work at it. My mom didn’t have a little Andrew Dice Clay inside her head that she had to fight with to
keep him at bay.

There have been a few times I let him out and the kids are still talking about it. Watching American Idol last year I may have blurted out something about this one group of contestants who might have arrived at the competition on a short bus. This season, I swear the judges are letting the blind guy stay in so long, just to test me. The dance numbers, the miscalculated high fives, those stairs on the stage, the group song choices that are about looking, seeing, watching - do you know how hard it is to not let these jokes come out? They’re bouncing around in there like Level 13 of Jezzball. God forbid I open my mouth to yawn and one of them slips out. I could lose my kids.

So forget the broken wrist, the drinking on the playground, and the Pop Tart dinners. I can not only say, “I gave up my career for you kids,” but also, “I gave up a good stand-up gig for you kids.” Free cocktails, the all-you-can-absorb second-hand smoke buffets, cheap fleabag hotels. I’m thinking, yes. And Mary might like it, too. The last I heard, she was hiding in her car from her husband, kids and puppy.

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