And when her biographer says of an Italian woman poet, “during some years her Muse was intermitted,” we do not wonder at the fact when he casually mentions her ten children.
Anna Garlin Spencer
HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY
especially to all you mean mothers out there…
Adorning a wall in my former home was the following calligraphy print I bought at a local craft fair in the early 1990’s.
It appealed to me with its logic, simplicity and just plain common sense…
In 1993 I was inspired to write a story about a day in my life as a mean mother. I dusted it off for this blog post (who knew?…).
CONFESSIONS OF A MEAN MOTHER
There are two kinds of mothers in this world: Nice Mothers (all the other mothers in town) and Mean Mothers (me). At least that’s what I’m told by my 11 year old daughter; my first born, my pride and joy, my reason for campaigning against Ronald Reagan.
She is right. I am a Mean Mother – married to an equally Mean Father. I have explained that we owe our success to Mean School. Where else would we learn how to set up “chore charts” directing her to strip and make beds (for starters) and our 5 year old son to set the table and fold socks? Where else would we learn about bedtimes earlier than all the other kids in town? And how to set an allowance that is less than the mortgage payment?
I often hear about Nice Mothers.
All the Nice Mothers let their kids stay up late and wait on them 24 hours a day. Children lucky enough to have Nice Mothers can also eat candy and chips all day long. My daughter has many friends who have no chores and watch whatever they want on TV.
“Their mothers let them,” she declares (fathers aren’t usually given credit for this). This surprises me because I think I’ve seen a few of these mothers at Mean School.
My daughter demands proof about Mean School. My son usually accepts these things at face value; but she, being older and wiser, is suspicious.
The subject came up again one recent evening.
Daughter: “Mom, can I watch TV?”
Me: “Have you finished your homework?”
Dtr: “I’ll finish it after ‘Rocky and Bullwinkle’ is over”
Me: “Now is better.” “Remember Mean School Rule #66: ‘Children must finish all homework before viewing TV.'”
Dtr: “Mom, would you just stop with this stuff about Mean School?” It’s SO ridiculous!”
Me: “Well…don’t you think I am mean? Aren’t I doing a good job?”
“Mommmmm.” She rolls her eyes. A practically perfect eye roll.
She hates to lose an argument. “There Is No Such Thing As Mean School.” She pauses for effect. “Like, where is it?”
“Only learning-to-be-mean parents know,” I admit.
Hands on hips…”I still don’t believe you!”
I turn to my husband who is sitting on the couch with our son reading The Cat in the Hat. “Don’t you think it should be obvious that we’re going to Mean School? We insist they write Thank You notes for goodness sake! And what about the no-candy-for-snacks rule? Now that’s real proof.”
He looks up at me, right eyebrow raised. “Well, I don’t understand why she doesn’t believe us. Maybe we should take extra classes.”
“That’s IT!” “We’re not mean enough!”
She stamps her foot. “You guys are just fooling me. I don’t care what you say. There’s no such thing and I know it!”
Our son, eager to end the discussion, defends our position.
“You’re just a butt-head,” he comments to his sister.
Ignoring him, she crosses her arms and tries again: “And anyway you aren’t that mean…..”
My husband and I look at each other in astonishment.
“All that work! All those rules! All those lists!”
“And especially all those classes…for nothing?”
“We’ll just have to try harder, that’s all,” he admits.
I nod my head in agreement as our daughter flops down in a chair with a loud sigh and another eye roll.
“Well, kids,” I promise, “Dad and I are going to do the best we can to use what we learn in Mean School no matter what other parents let their kids do. After all, we have our position in the community to think of. Remember the family motto: if your friend jumps off a bridge, will you do it too?”
Our son laughs. “Yeah, right.”
Our daughter moans. “Oh forget it.”
We, as mean as ever, continue… “Please go pick up your rooms – we can’t see the floor anymore.”
[I am happy to report we were able to boost enrollment at Mean School by recommending it to several friends. Whose children also grew up to be fine upstanding citizens with great senses of humor]