Thursday 31 March 2011

Swearing at Your Kids is Good for Them!

It happened on a dark and stormy night about a year after Frack was born.  I needed to escape the insanity to help out with a church fundraiser and it was going to be the first time I left Daddy alone with both of the children.   Our farewell was grim.  I asked him if he was sure he could handle this and he assured me he could, but he definitely looked nervous.  Throwing him a little last minute advice I wished him luck and went on my way.

I knew things were bad when I got the phone call less than a half hour after arriving at the church.  The tone in Daddy's voice was even and dispassionate which I knew meant that he was just barely holding his shit together.  Everything is under control, he told me, he just needed to know where the mop was.  And did we have any more bleach anywhere?  My mommy senses started firing up.  When a man says he has things "under control" it generally means the same thing as when a woman says she is "fine".  In other words, exactly the opposite.  I demanded to know what was going on but he only came out with what sounded like a string of nonsense and disjointed phrases: "Just...there''s everywhere!....there's...nevermind.  Where's the mop, please?"

I tell myself that everything must be fine.  That my husband is an adult.  I have to let things go.  I can't be in control of every little thing.  I have to able to leave the house sometime, right?  I let him go handle whatever hell the kids have unleashed for the day, knowing I will hear all about it when I get home.

Do what I might, the minutes marched relentlessly on.  I was afraid of what I might come home to but I reasoned that I may as well get it over with knowing that at least the kids would be asleep.  I came home to a house that looked like someone had recently tried to clean up the evidence of a grisly murder in it.  There was a pale film of bleach everywhere that would have to be rinsed off repeatedly in the morning.

I heard my husband call out to me from the bomb shelter in the basement.  He sounded pretty normal, almost happy.  I went downstairs and he was sitting in a chair beneath the naked bulb that provided our mood lighting.  He appeared to be cleaning his shoes with a toothbrush and a razor blade.

"What the hell are you doing?"

"Hmm?  Oh,'ll have to pardon me right now.  I'm a little drunk.  Don't worry, I waited until the kids were asleep.  I could deal with all the other stuff sober, but I just couldn't do the shoes.  For that I needed tequila."

"Are they (the kids) okay?"

"Oh yeah, like physically.  I think I may have traumatized Frick."

And from there my husband began to recount a tale of utter horror.  At first I was totally shocked.  As he continued my emotional responses ranged from outrage, pity, sadness, fear and then outrage again.  The injustices, indignities and other crimes against humanity that those little hellions inflicted on that poor man were unspeakable.  I don't think he could have told it in its entirety without being drunk and by the end, I was taking a few shots myself just to steady my nerves.  I went and got a warm blanket and comforted him with promises of calling the plumber in the morning and offering to cover up most of the damage with some strategically placed art.  I reassured him that the structural damage to the house is probably not as bad as he first thought and that we were meaning to fix that wall anyway.

And that's when something wonderful happened.

That's when the remorse kicked in.  Daddy lamented about how he yelled and screamed at Frick.  About how each new horror the kid invented simply shocked the foul language out of him because it was the only thing stopping him from punching something.  He was afraid that the volume and content of the screaming scared Frick stiff.

Now, I know this isn't really wonderful but it was for me in that moment because all of a sudden I realised that I am not a monster.  Our kids drove me to the point of acting like an insane screaming shrew and I spent many sleepless nights contemplating the special level of hell reserved for mothers like me.  There must be something fundamentally wrong with my personality for me to get so angry that I scream and yell obscenities around my sweet innocent babies.  I was always worried that Daddy would find out how angry the kids made me and then leave me because I was a horrible monster with no self-control.

The fact that they had the same effect on my husband was revelatory.  This is the way normal people respond to the things my kids do.  I'm not the monster, they are!  We're just doing the best we can here, people.  A human being can only take so much and we'd actually be doing the kids a disservice by downplaying that fact.  I mean, isn't it our job as parents to teach our kids that you just can't go around destroying people's homes and defecating wherever you want without any consequences?  And you can't teach them that the consequences are going to be a polite lecture about how disappointing said behaviour is.  That is just unrealistic. 

So drop those F-bombs people!  If you don't your kids will grow up to be assholes, but you won't know about it because death will have mercifully taken you in the form of an aneurysm caused by acute, pent up rage.

Thursday 17 March 2011

Last-Minute Housekeeping Hints

Because I have a blog I now have the right to pontificate to you on how you should live your lives.  Right?  No, I'm not here to tell you how to run your household but to help you to not run it.  Because what is the point of being a stay at home mommy if you can't spend the entire day in front of your soaps eating bon bons?  Doing otherwise would be work and if I actually wanted to do work I would have jumped at the opportunity to get the hell away from my kids on a 9-5, five days a week basis.  However I sometimes have unexpected company and it would ruin everything if they found out that I'm not a self-righteous super-mommy who takes raising children and making a home to be sacred duties.

I felt like writing this bit on last-minute housekeeping because it can benefit not only stay at home mommies but also working fact every woman could use this advice.  This shit is universal.

So, you're in your pajamas and are totally hungover haven't finished your morning coffee yet.  There are piles of dishes in the kitchen from last night's dinner and the kids' breakfast that morning.  There are cheerios left all over the floor from the toddler and your older child has left a trail of clothing strewn about the house.  All of a sudden the phone rings and it's your mother-in-law/best friend/Children's Aid announcing that she will be dropping by to see the kids in about an hour.  There is just no way that your house can be in anything even approaching acceptable in just one hour. 

What do you do?  What do you do?

Most of what I learned about cleaning I learned from a master; my own mother.  Mummy Dearest is the Queen of the Illusion of Clean.  She is the one who taught me that it doesn't matter how clean you really are, it only matters how clean other people think you are. 

So here's how to do it:

Prioritizing is key or else you will waste your time paying attention to a smaller detail and leaving the bigger stuff less time.  Remember we are playing "Beat the Clock" here with very high odds.  Your Mommy creds are at stake.  So pick whatever mess is the biggest and most disgusting.  For me this is usually the never-ending pile of dishes (because my kids insist on being fed three times a day!).  Now obviously I don't have time to wash these dishes so there is really nothing else to do but hide them.

There are lots of great places to hide nasty, crusty dishes.  Some of my favourites are the inside of the oven,  under the bed or in the car.  For those of you who are apartment dwellers there is nothing as convenient as an out of season balcony.  I don't mention closets here because dishes look funny and out of place in them.  Your guest is much more likely to accidentally open a closet than she is to look inside your oven.  Save closet space for stuff like toys, coats, boots, shoes or...whatever else could be easily explained by the natural function of a closet.

Next you're gonna need to clear space.  As long as floors are visible people are less likely to notice other clutter.  Most living room junk can be relegated to a closet.  Books, unopened mail, magazines can simply be stacked neatly on a table and the rest can just be pushed into corners, shoved into end table drawers but not crammed under the couch.  You will be needing that under-the-couch space to sweep all cheerios, crumbs and other debris into because you don't want to waste precious seconds sweeping stuff into a dustpan and trying to deal with that stupid dirt line that gets infinitely smaller but never actually disappears.

The bathroom is important because it is a room that a) attracts the attention of other judgy women and b) allows your guest unsupervised time alone.  That means that she won't have your dazzling conversational skills to distract her from your less-than-dazzling home.  So take the time to wipe down the toilet seat and bathroom sink.  Then spend a few seconds buffing the fixtures to a shine, cleaning the mirror and stuffing the rest of the mess into the bathtub/shower behind the curtain.  With any luck the shiny stuff will distract her attention from how thick the dust is on the towel rack, the mildew stains on the ceiling or the little fingerprints on the walls. 

And if that nosy bitch opens the shower curtain to see whether or not you cleaned the pubes from your bar of soap then fuck her!  There is no amount of housecleaning that will satisfy someone like that so don't waste any more of your precious time worrying about it.

The following finishing touches should complete the deception.  Your filthy kids can be transformed with a little spit shine (you know, that nasty thing that mothers do when they lick their thumbs and erase smudges of dirt from their kids' faces) a bit of a brush and some hand-washing.  Those visible parts being clean are all that matters.  If they smell a little funky a little Febreze should do the trick but whatever you do, DO NOT FEBREZE YOUR HOME OR USE ANY OTHER SPRAY FRESHENER! 

You will ruin all your hard work if you do this.  Your guest smells that and she'll know immediately that you are fronting.  Everyone knows those sprays were designed to cover shit up.  Yes, your house smells bad (what did you think was going to happen when you stuff your dirty dishes under the bed?) but there is a way to fix that.

Instead go through the house with a bottle of lemon-scented furniture polish (for living areas) and a bottle of soap scum remover (for kitchens and bathrooms).  These products would be useless to me if all they were good for was cleaning.  No, I spray my rooms with Pledge and Tilex because they leave the impression that I was using those products for cleaning without actually cleaning anything.  Seriously, if you entered a home that reeked of bleach and lemons what would you think? 


Because you are short of time and are under pressure you will be sure to forget something.  You can be even more sure that the person to discover what you missed will be your guest.  In a situation like this it is important to blame your husband and children.  Sure, we all like to pretend to others that our families are perfect but not at our own expense!  If it comes down to a choice between your reputation and that of your husband or kids then do not hesitate to throw - no - shove them under that bus.  The most important thing is that you look good.  Any perceived imperfections in your family can be easily fixed by such a perfect mommy with such a clean house.  Besides, if you can't blame everything on your kids then why did you have them in the first place?

These tricks really do work because I use them all the time and I wouldn't bother with anything ineffectual.  For anyone who has graciously taken the time to read my blog I promise that, if ever you are in my home, you will be welcome to have a closer look around and see for yourself how totally awesome I am at this. 

Just don't tell my mother-in-law.

Tuesday 15 March 2011

Happy Birthday Frick!

My little Frick is turning ten this year on his birthday and already he is a very busy little boy.  I stumbled on this great trick for disguising myself as a great mom without having to make myself suffer, and so I generously share with my fellow mean-mommies.  Because if any of you have any good tricks I want to encourage you to hand 'em over.  (Seriously, I need all the help I can get.)  One of my great parenting philosophies is that it is a mother's sacred duty to avoid making her kid shitty at all costs.  Because if your kid is shitty they will have shitty friends and then you have exposed yourself to shittiness exponentially.

When Frick was born, initially I wanted to give him everything.  Because I was delirious from the physical trauma and lack of sleep.  About a year later when the high wore off and he began developing a will of his own I began to comprehend that I was going to have to live with this monster for another seventeen years!  He was the first and only grandson and nephew so a lot of well-meaning people avalanched me in baby stuff.  I left my kid's baby shower with three garbage bags full of stuffed animals.  I thought this was a bit much.  I didn't know how lucky I was.  Stuffed animals, at least, are very soft.  I had yet to contend with razor sharp lego pieces, odds and ends of robots, and those hellish toys on wheels that for some reason needed to be stored on the stairs.

By the time he was five I felt like I was on the kindergarten episode of "Hoarders".  There were tottering stacks of toys and books everywhere I went.  Every time I felt like I could deal with one tower there would be a new truckload of stuff pouring in.  I was operating under the delusion that I could let everyone else indulge my kid as long as I personally did not indulge him.  When I found the dead cat, suffocated amongst aforementioned stuffed animals, I knew something had to give.  (Funny story: the cat had not decomposed enough to be visibly distinguishable from all the toy animals.  We had to touch and smell each one.  Thank you to my in-laws who gave us those corpse-handling gloves for Christmas that year!) The fact that shortly after disposing of the cat Frick started bitching about how the obnoxious kid down the street has more stuff than him let me know that our situation had become desperate.  All this stuff was making my kid shitty.

Then I heard some talk show with some gimmicky doctor spewing some psycho-babble I just knew I could exploit.  It went something like "give your kids experiences not stuff...blah blah blah....less is more.....something something...studies show...something about self-esteem."  Everything sounded right and it had the certified stamp of approval from a celebrity quack.  So when my family was saying "Well what do we give him for his birthday?"  I said:

"Take him to the movies?"

And then, just like magic, people started showing up at my house not to burden me with more plastic crap, but to take my kid away from me for like, several hours!  They return with my kid, who is sufficiently distracted with all of the attention to not notice that he doesn't have a new toy, and then pat me on the back telling me what a great mom I am for coming up with this.  Nobody ever has to know that I spend my freed up afternoon getting drunk taking a bubble bath.  I just divert them with bullshit about how it's so good for the children.   And maybe it is good for the children.  They are a little less shitty about wanting stuff than they used to be.

And now, because I also had the fortune of having a baby whose birthday is over the March break, instead of having to scramble to find stuff to keep the crazy animals busy, I'll be having a lot of bubble baths in my crap-free home while everyone else fights over whose turn it is to spend quality time with my kids.

Happy Birthday Frick!

Monday 14 March 2011

Meet My Family

My name is Mommy Rotten.  And really, for real, this is my real name.  On my birth certificate and other identification I use a different name because it helps me navigate the world in which we live but Mommy Rotten is a better representation of who I really am.  I have to hide my true identity not so much out of self-preservation, but more because if some of the other mommies out there found out who I really was they wouldn't let their kids play with mine and then I wouldn't have anywhere to send them when I can't stand them anymore.

My husband, Daddy Rotten, is shell-shocked from parenting just like me.  We actually have a hidey-hole in the basement that we call "The Bunker" where we go and hide from our kids.  We told them not to go down there because of the giant biting spiders.  Anyway he doesn't say much when I regale him with the fresh horrors our boys unleashed on me during the day.  He just sort of stares at his computer monitor and grunts.  I think if he actually tried to talk about it his head might explode.  His contribution is occasionally yelling at them for me and providing me with alcohol.

I am effectively a stay at home mom of two boys, Frick and Frack.  I have no political ideas about staying at home, it's just that when we found out how much daycare cost for a family that can afford a house (barely) I would essentially be working to pay for child care.  However I have found this kind of convenient because it aids in my disguise.  Because to the rest of the world I am a mild-mannered, stay at home mommy, who bakes bread and goes to church.  But in reality I am a super-hero.  A woman who is capable of dealing with her kids every day without actually murdering them and can still manage to maintain her alter-ego.

And again on the surface the church and baking stuff looks good but in reality I bake bread just because I really enjoy cooking for purely selfish reasons and I go to church because I am interested in learning about religion right now, not because I am a particularly good person.  Next year I will probably visit a satanic cult.  You know, just to balance things out.

Frick is ten and Frack is three and you would think with an age difference like that they wouldn't fight.  You would think.  But they fight over every damn thing you could possibly imagine.  The only upshot of the age difference is that Frick holds back.  My mother had her kids back to back so we inflicted real and permanent damage on each other.  Both my brothers have chips in their teeth to this day.  My hair grew back, eventually, but I have a small bruise on my nose that never seemed to go away.  Frick opts for the kind of assholery he thinks he can get away with.  Run of the mill, big brother, "I'm not touching you, I'm not touching you" stuff.

Frack is three and so is utterly unreasonable about everything, which amuses Frick to no end because it makes him such an easy target.  Frack also destroys anything that he touches.  Like any other three year old he is into everything and is generally a menace to himself and everyone around him.  But this child has made me yearn for the days when Frick, at the same age, used to scream and hurl insults at me when I called him on his bullshit.  When you reprimand Frack in any way he puts his face in his hands and sobs quietly in heartbreak.  I know, it sounds kind of adorable right?

But it isn't because the rest of the time he is acting like such an ASSHOLE! I won't go much into the details of just how he does this, you'll just have to take my word for it right now.  I promise you, if any other human being treated you the way this kid treats me you would punch them in the face.  But this kid keeps putting me in the position of comforting him because he started screaming irrationally at me.

So this is my family.  They are slowly eroding my sanity but I love them.   Because I have to.  Please understand that what I want to write here is not serious.  I need to vent and I need to do it honestly or it just defeats the purpose.  In order to maintain my kids' anonymity I will let you know that everything I write is about 15% bullshit.  This way you will never really know which stuff actually happened and which stuff is made up because it will all be so fucking crazy.  In fact let's just say that if something I write offends you, save your comments and relegate that to the 15%.

Happy reading!

Because I'm a Mean Mom

If you're a totally super mom who is conscientiously raising great kids to be the future hope of society...this blog is probably not for you.  I am writing this blog because, as you can see from its name, I am a mean mom. This is a little misleading if you don't understand my background.

When I was a kid my mother was unquestionably the boss.  She ruled supreme.  Most of the time.  She just wouldn't take any of our shit. We hated and resented her for it and she always told us we would understand someday.  I was the only girl of her three children and my brothers were wild animals.  Mummy Dearest coined the phrase "one is like none when you have three."  There were times in my childhood when the three of us spent most of the day rolling about the house like tumbleweed, all of squirming bodies and flying fists.  We had to avoid the kitchen or she would spray us with that hose in the sink.

Anyway, whenever we felt like she was being unfair (which was always) she would reply, "Because I'm a mean mom."  Which for us was totally unsatisfying but she seemed pretty okay with it.  When I grew up, shortly after giving birth to my first child, I still did not understand.  You see, when you have a baby, you're not a real mom.  Yet.  The babyhood part of raising children is only the hazing period that initiates you into true motherhood.  Hell, when my firstborn precious treasure of a boy was still new I actually took offense when a relative called him my "kid".  How dare she refer to him with such a profane term!  He was my child, the fruit of my life-giving womb!  Well he's ten now and I have to say that "kid" is often the nicest word I have for him.

The wisdom I had to learn was this: no matter how smart you are your kids are selfish, hedonistic little idiots who have no sense of the long term or what to expect out of life.  Therefore no matter what well-reasoned argumentation you use to justify your actions they will never, never, never be satisfied.  After a while, "because I'm a mean mom" is actually a completely acceptable response.

I'm hoping to reach out to my fellow mean moms because I know you're out there, fronting to all the other mothers (just like I do) that you have your shit together when you don't.  This is a safe place where we can be ourselves while using fake names so nobody knows who we are.