Monday, January 14, 2013

Snotty Mom

Right after Clementine was born I started reading a book called Sh*tty Mom: The Parenting Guide for the Rest of Us. Yes, yes, I know. The irony, blah blah. Anyway, the book was really funny and I kept laughing out loud as I was reading. This was driving the kids crazy. "What's that book? Why are you laughing so much?' Sawyer demanded over and over again in spite of the fact that I was BLATANTLY ignoring him. Jeez, take a hint, kid. Jack came along and misread the title. "It's called Snotty Mom. Mom's reading a book about boogers!" And then they dissolved into a heap of giggles and left me alone to keep reading and snort-laughing in peace.

Sh*tty Mom is the book you wish you had read before you had kids. Back when you were a judgmental jackass who could not comprehend why someone would let their bedhead kids run amok in a grocery store wearing Halloween costumes in May.

Or maybe that's just me. I seriously used to wonder why people didn't comb their kids' hair. How hard can it be? I wondered. It's just hair.

I'm passing the book along to my cousin who is about to have twin boys. Because I am pretty sure she, like all first timers, thinks she will be combing their hair. And that their socks will match. So yeah. Ha ha.

For some reason I thought that having three kids would make me a better parent. You know, like I'd somehow really understand parenting. I'd have it all down. I'd be an expert. A veteran mom. A spewer of wisdom at the playground. Somebody with their mommy shit together.

But instead of getting better, I think I am actually getting worse. Sh*ttier, some might even say.

For example, Brent and I decided to save a few bucks by feeding the kids french fries and milkshakes for dinner. Those kids' meals are a racket.

Oh, and that infant carseat adapter for the stroller is for rookies.

Even our morals have been compromised! Jack subscribes to a free Lego magazine which comes a few times a year. They always have these Lego Challenges and readers can send in pictures of their Lego creations and win prizes. Brent and Jack always pore over this magazine when it arrives and Brent inevitably mutters about how the parents must be helping these kids. "No 6 year old could build that," he grumbles. And so on.

The last challenge was for some sort of fire fighting equipment and Brent and Jack sequestered themselves in the playroom with an iPhone until they emerged with this.

I wash my hands of this entire Lego Challenge.

Sometimes I leave my baby lying naked on the changing table. But Brent propped one corner up with a folded blanket, so it's all good, right?

We taught Sawyer to fetch us beers from the garage by color. "Can you get me one of the purple beers with the yellow light?" for Jubelale. Celebration is "The red one with the snowy house." Last year he learned to retrieve the bottle opener and this year, as a special treat, we sometimes let him open them.

I have not driven the car with my baby in the Ergo yet, but I'd be lying if the thought hadn't crossed my mind. Many times. We sometimes do time outs in the garage. I have packed peanut butter and jelly on a hotdog bun for lunch. And we may or may not have left the five year old home alone while we took the other kids for a walk last week. I don't want to incriminate myself here.

And then there is my friend Peter. His kids are angelic little sweethearts who do as they are told, who get along, who are super athletes, who have manners and actually use them in public. Unlike my children who still need to be prompted for the five thousandth time in that stupid singsongy voice that all desperate manners-pushing parents eventually adopt "What do you say when Grandma gives you an ice cream cone?" "What should you say when you want something?" When on the inside we are screaming, "WHAT THE FUCK!? HOW MANY TIME DO I HAVE TO FUCKING REMIND YOU TO SAY PLEASE AND THANK YOU!?"

Where was I?

Oh yeah. Peter and his awesome kids. We all went to this free soccer clinic put on by the Portland Timbers. Jack and William got to rub elbows with some players and practice drills with the coaches. While Caroline, the obedient child and thoughtful sister, cheered on her brother from the sidelines, Sawyer pitched an endless fit about not being able to play, flopped on the floor, fell off a bar stool, and went on two time outs for sticking his tongue out at me.

OMG, somebody please comb that child's hair! How hard can it be?

When it was all over, I began herding everyone toward the exit, contemplating just how much garage time Sawyer had racked up for himself during the hour we were there. But then Jack and William noticed that kids were lining up for autographs from the players and even though neither of them seemed to know what an autograph was, they wanted one.

Brent and I were fumbling around with the diaper bag/camera/Ergo/baby/three-year-old as the line grew and grew. We were just trying to get the hell outta there when Peter, the moral compass of the group, sent the kids over to the front of the line. 

"Did our kids just cut to the front of the line?!" I asked incredulously.

He shrugged his shoulders and we both turned away in case any line-abiding citizens were looking around for the cuplrits' parents.

And so Jack and William met Timber Joey and learned what an autograph is and collected some cheap, plastic Timbers memorabilia. By the time I noticed that Sawyer had weaseled his way into the whole thing, I just didn't care about the rules at all anymore.

If we can learn one thing from this experience, it's that being a shitty parent from time to time does not necessarily mean you will have shitty kids.

And that maybe I need a new moral compass.


  1. HILARIOUS. Love it. It's so freaking true that you completely judge parents before you have your own kids. Yes I fed Henry pizza and McDonald's yesterday after I whad worked night shift because I was too tired to give a crap. He had a bite of avocado, so of course when my husband asked what he ate that day, I told him avocado. Organic, of course.

    Can't wait to check out that book!

    PS We had friends when we lived in Portland who had similarly trained their 2 year old to fetch beer. I think it's a Portland thing maybe...

  2. Ellie loves hanging out at both "Falling Sky" and "The Winery" (Silvan Ridge)'s an early-Oregonian education. But I think we have yet to teach her how to open a beer! I love that picture of Clementine at Kick City. She is really a beautiful baby!

  3. How is it that TEACHING THEM TO OPEN THE BEER has never occurred to me? I feel like such a sucker. I've been settling for Stella in cans lately because when someone brings you an unopened beer, it feels more like a taunt than a favor, you know?
    Oh, it's a whole new world from here on out.

  4. Thank you SO much for your utterly brilliant blog! Am knee-deep in it so I totally know where you're coming from. xxx karen (one of the Sh*tty Mom coauthors)

  5. Oh, I was a MUCH better parent before I had kids. And I love the way that you're teaching the kids color and shape recognition. Brilliant. Everyone wins.