"I know what you're thinking, 'cause right now I'm thinking the same thing. Actually, I've been thinking it ever since I got here: Why oh why didn't I take the BLUE pill? "

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Worst Mom...Evah!

Rebecca Frech really cracks me up. She's been guest posting this month and we're happy to have her. You can read her regularly at Shoved to Them:

Since moving to Texas, we have discovered the “Playgroup” phenomena. I’m sure there were such things in Oklahoma City, but I wasn’t cool enough to be part of one. Then we moved to the Dallas area, and I was asked to join a few different groups within a month of our arrival. I knew I would be the odd man out, what with the 7 kids and all, but hanging out with “normal moms” has convinced me once and for all that I truly am a horrible mother, and judging by the mouths that fall open when I opine and the subtle head shakes when I talk, I’m not the only one thinking I’m a little outside of “perfect mommy-dom.” People often tell me that they could never have 7 kids and do it well. I’m not so sure that I can either.

Can I just be honest here? I know I’m never going to win Mother of the Year. Here’s why:
• I give the baby formula when we’re in the car. I know, I know, breast is best. I just haven’t figured out how to drive the car and get it into the back seat all at the same time. They’re not as perky as they used to be, but I’m not in National Geographic territory yet.
• The baby sleeps with us. Don’t talk to me about studies and that scary story about King Solomon in the Bible. I’m old, I’m tired, and I’m lazy. Not to mention that a four month old curled up in the middle of our king sized bed does more to delay the arrival of a #8 than just about anything else.
• She sleeps on her tummy. Under blankets. I’ve read the mommy magazines. I’ve seen the American Academy of Pediatrics stuff. I’m deciding to ignore it all. Back sleepers get flat heads and wear helmets. No thank you. Here’s what I’m thinking, I’ve never seen an animal in the wild that sleeps with its soft underbelly hanging out there all tempting the lion and stuff. Have you? No. Things don’t sleep that way. Plus, back sleepers startle themselves awake. About that blanket? Our bedroom is cold, she sleeps with us. I need blankets. The end.
• I see absolutely nothing wrong with chocolate cake for breakfast. It has eggs, flour, milk, and butter; and it has less sugar than a bowl of Fruit Loops. If you’d give a kid a doughnut, why not a big hunk of cake? But not on a school day, let’s not go crazy here. We’re not barbarians.
• My 4 year old can’t ride a bike. He’s almost 5. This is Texas where boys play sports. He’s more Ferdinand the Bull-ish. He wants to sit and catch the roly-poly bugs. Our neighbors’ boys were riding bikes at 3. My boy? He’s afraid he’ll scrape his knees, and I’m okay with that. Partly because he’ll learn when he’s ready, and partly because I don’t want to run behind his bike. (Did you see the old, tired, and lazy part up there?)
• I have 4 sons. None of them ever have or ever will play Little League. America’s game? Maybe somewhere else. This is Texas, son. We play football here, plus the LL schedule is insane. 2 practices a week plus double and triple headers? No way, Jose. How ‘bout a nice game of soccer?
• My children do not have beautiful, professionally decorated bedrooms. In fact, the 2 year old’s dresser is a Rubbermaid set of drawers from the hardware store. His artwork is an Angry Birds poster from Tar-jay. His bedding doesn’t match itself, forget about matching his room. He doesn’t care. He wants the airplane sheets, boat blanket, and Harry Potter pillow left over from his brothers’ old bedrooms.
• I let the kids have Harry Potter bedding. Say what you like about the books and movies, the bedding was horrendous. Giant spiders glow in the dark on the pillowcases. Scary, nightmare inducing stuff. All I said was “Don’t come and get me if this freaks you out at night. Wake up your brother. It’s why y’all share rooms.”
• I decided to homeschool the kids and never once thought “What will they do for prom?” It seems to be the #1 concern of a lot of the moms around here. I just never thought that kids who couldn’t date and didn’t go to school would be worried about a school dance for which you need a date. (For the record, homeschoolers have proms, so you can stop worrying about my under-privileged children.)
• I make my kids do their own laundry once they can reach inside the washer. I have other things to do like watching my stories. And, have you smelled pre-teen boy funk? Not doing it. You forget the deodorant; you’re the one who’s going to suffer in the laundry room. I don’t know why the thought of a 10 year old boy alone with a washing machine is terrifying, but it seems to be just this side of reportable abuse.
• I provide all the basics for my children, for all the extra stuff they can get a J. O. B. Yup, that’s right. I make them work. I also make them save half of what they earn and use the rest for the things they want to do. There’re no allowances in our house. If they need money, then their hippie selves can get to work. There may be free lunch in the kitchen, but that trip to the movies with their friends is going to cost them.

There are times I almost begin to feel sorry for our seven kids when the neighbor women start planning elaborate birthday parties or taking their kids to their 5th piano/karate/ballet/basket weaving lesson of the week while mine are poking holes in the lump of homemade play-doh in our kitchen (Who am I trying to kid? I don’t make play-doh. Have you seen the mess that stuff creates?) Then I turn around and realize that all the “privileged” neighborhood kids are hanging out over here because it turns out that I’m the only mom who allows light saber battles on the stairs, and am willing to throw on a cape and be the creepy emperor. (Bonus that I know that his name is Palpatine!) I let the girls come in and use my nail polish and don’t mind when they get it coated all the way up to their elbows. I may not be the best mom around these parts, but my kids seem to like me just fine. At least they’re not asking to move out this week, and that counts as a win to me!

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39 comments:

Andrea said...

I love everything about this blog. EVERYTHING! I am a mom of 4, and I think we parent quite a bit the same. I've gotten quite a few pitying looks and head shakes too, but hey, the kids are happy :)

Katy Anders said...

I don't know whether there is a RIGHT way to raise kids.

I suspect there are some ways that are clearly WRONG, but none that are absolutely RIGHT.

None of these admissions sound likely to get CPS involved, although they might get some tongues wagging. Funny stuff...

Dwija {House Unseen} said...

Hilarious, Rebecca! Oh my gosh. I might have to take a cue and make a little list myself. Our poor, poor deprived children...

Maurisa said...

It took 15 years and 5 kids for my husband to finally convince me a hunk of leftover cake was a much better breakfast than a bowl of Lucky Charms.

Love it, Rebecca! Wish I lived closer to you. We bad moms need to stick together!

romishgraffiti said...

There is an old joke what is the difference between an liturgical director and a terrorist? You can negotiate with a terrorist. But frankly, I'd rather try to negotiate with 5 liturgical directors than negotiate with a mom with very definite ideas about the right way to care for children.

priest's wife said...

...sorry to throw water on the party- but please seriously consider the SIDS risk to sleeping in bed with blankets with the baby on tummy before she can roll. We co-slept (or used a bassinet at the side of the bed) with minimal blankets. Yes, moms need sleep- so swaddling and using a good blanket sleeper does wonders-

My sister lost her first daughter to SIDS when a neighbor watching the baby (my sister went to the store) put the baby to sleep on her tummy. Yes, it usually doesn't happen but SIDS cases have dropped 50% since doctors have advised this change

So- yes- we moms have a lot of our plate and shouldn't be judgmental about stuff like breast/bottle, but there does seem to be a bit of 'rebellion' in that 'I'm not going to consider what those silly doctors say- I'm the mom!' Sorry if I have offended...

Sue said...

I love the part about the baby sleeping on his belly. When I had my first child the doctor instill so much anxiety in me about belly sleeping that I would stand over my sleeping baby & if he flipped onto his stomach, I would flip him back to his back, there by waking him up, and making myself insane. By the 3rd child, she could have sleep anywhere or however she liked, all I knew is I NEED sleep, and on my stomach too! I wish I had more kids, I love being a mom.

LadyAnon said...

LoVe It!!!!!

A mom after my own heart. I have 6 kids, 2 I actually gave birth to, the other 4 are my step kids. I am JUST like this mom and I feel like I am a cool mom all around. I might not be the richest or the "best" compared to the gaggle of moms that gather around and do all the special stuff. But my kids love me and love what we do together when we can and that's all that matters to me in the end.

Cari said...

I see my family in almost all of these! Cake is just fine for breakfast. Little League is not something that we're going to spend time on, you have a million siblings, for the love of Pete, play baseball with them. My first two were such horrible, fitful sleepers in infancy that everyone was tired and run down and easily made sick. One of my friends let me in on the dirty little secret of stomach sleeping, and voila! the baby slept, we slept, the constant cold being passed around cleared up, the sun shone brilliantly.

I think a mentality like this helps up stop thinking of children as consumer goods, or adorable little pets, and instead as actual people made in the image and likeness of God.

Anonymous said...

I think we were separated at birth. Except for the laundry thing. I am way too anal to let any of my kids under the age of 18 near my washer.

I had back sleepers, front sleepers and side sleepers. I let them pick. And the "baby" (who is 6) still sleeps with us occasionally. When he can sneak in while I'm zonked, that is.

Sharon

Cathy D said...

About that bike. Forget running behind and holding it. Take the pedals off. Lower the seat completely. Let your boy sit on the bike and walk it around. Within minutes he'll have the hang of bicycle balance. Wait until he can "walk" the bike zig-zag through cones and then coast with ease.

You'll be putting the pedals back on the same day and he'll be riding.

Love the article!

Anonymous said...

Never let the baby sleep with you. He won't leave until he's ten and your sex life will dry up into a pool of resentment.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 1:46--"Never let the baby sleep with you. . . "

We have 7 children and they all slept with us for a time. It may be a bit TMI, but our sex life did not suffer(see 7 kids). We just had to be more creative. All our kids were out of our bed before they were 10, usually right around the time a new sibling arrived.

You are either sorely misinformed or lack creativity.

texasmama said...

I think we could be friends here in the Dallas area! Loved the article - b/c so many things ring true in our house of 8 kids...
Hope you're enjoying it here. (I have a friend who moved from OKC last August with their 8 kids...sounds like you guys have lots in common, too).

Anonymous said...

I love it. I have four and all four slept on their tummies. I am totally with you on the helmets and flat heads. (except for number four, all slept in cribs the first few months with just a fitted sheet, no blankets, no dolls, no pillows). Number two didn't learn to ride her bike until she was eight due to her misinformed belief that she was an only child combined with a mother that refused to run alongside a bike. She finally learned at our cabin when my sister took pity and did the running alongside (although that did lead to a collision with a parked car in the driveway - whole nuther story). And number four slept in bed with us because I was old and way too tired. And she was in a crib after I was done nursing at the age of one (her, not me). No problem transitioning.

I did however do crazy birthday parties - all at home and planned and designed by me. I look back on the pictures and wonder how on earth I had the time or energy to do that!

K said...

If my 3 week old.isn't smothered by sleeping with my Natl Geo breast smooshed in his face after we both fall asleep while he nurses I'm not going to get my panties in a twist if he isn't flat on his back on an organic mattress. I get back to sleep and think it is best but sometimes I fall short of 'best'.

Anonymous said...

your my kinda mom!!

Bridget said...

I'm 39, and my own dresser is Rubbermaid.

Rebecca said...

As a mom of 6...I thank you for making me feel perfectly normal...well as normal as it gets when this whole blog is 100% accurate in my life as well!!

Michelle L. Momof11 said...

My youngest is almost 9 so I don't know the correct way to put a baby to bed....but I know that over the course of 25 years of childbearing, and 11 babies, what was recommended changed several times.

Pumpkin pie and ice cream are standard breakfast fare on the day after Thanksgiving and day after Christmas.

Some of my kids do their own laundry and i refuse to un-ball my 12 year old son's crunchy socks. He has to!

xthred said...

Great!

Chunk said...

You think pre-teen funk is bad? My son invented sweat socks that are damp and crispy at the same time. He's a genius.

Rachel W. said...

I have been parenting long enough - 11 kids, 24-4 yrs. - that I have been through three rounds of back is best, tummy is tender sleeping advice. What I have learned is that babies knows best and I have had both back and tummy sleepers. Our last (probably for real) managed to stay on his side, squished btwn Dad and I helped but there you go....

And chocolate cake - listen to Bill Cosby's take on that some time (and any of his stuff) and laugh, laugh, laugh...

Anonymous said...

Sounds like my kind of people! I have 3 kids, now grown, but this is the kind of stuff I let my kids do.
An interesting point, a friend of mine, a physics teacher, told me that kids who are allowed to be kids like this are better at figuring out how things work and how to solve problems.

Anonymous said...

I'm a married dad of 3 - ages 20, 10, and 7. Even with just 3 kids the disparity between the first one and the last one is amazing. With the first one we thought everything had to be perfect. I was raised in a much less structured environment ( but one FULL of love) and sort of rolled with the flow by dealing with things as they arose. In my mind being a parent is truly on the job training.. My wife fell into "read a book and become an enlightened parent" trap. Knowledge is great but nothing beats experience. By the time the last one came along she had come over to the dark side. Now her attitude is more like "if you're gonna play with that chainsaw then do it outside". All 3 kids still have all of their original appendages.

Ana Braga-Henebry said...

Awesome post from another mother of seven who could never allow baseball to destroy family dinner time.

Ana Braga-Henebry said...

Awesome post from another mother of seven who could never allow baseball to destroy family dinner time.

Mary Bernadette said...

I also loved the tummy sleeping part. As a 3 month premature baby my son spent lots of time in the NICU at MacMaster, the top neo-natal teaching hospital in Canada. So we spent a lot of time visiting him there where, guess what? They slept the babies on their tummies! Of course they were hooked up to heart monitors at all times. But when I asked the nurse about it, she admitted that tummy sleeping was the most natural position, helping them attain the deepest sleep, best growth and quickest recovery from illness.
Of course she was obligated to say "but we're professionals, don't you try this at home kids."

TheProudPatriot said...

I'm a dad of two daughters and i think I just may be the male version of you!! Fantastic piece, hope you don't mind if I repost on my blog! You are Mom of the Year to me! :)

lpcroman said...

I am going to forward this to my husband. I give my kids cupcakes for breakfast on a school day....all furniture are hand-me-downs......the boys (four) swing from island, to high stool, to counter to reach the hidden goodies.....know if that's not team work then I don't know what is. My mother-in-law for 9months, yes, 9 months, told me how much of a bad mother I was because my 1st born son (i already had a 7 year old girl) was going to be mentally scared because there was going to be 20months between he and the twin boys I was expecting. (did i mention I was pregnant 9 months with twins and throwing up every morning). I thank God that He was the creator of my 5 gifts and not others, who seem to think my having more than 2 children is a statement on their option to have 2 children. Tsk, tsk. Glad to know there are 'normal' moms who believe in letting kids, just be kids!

Rocket Scientist said...

Wonderful and so true! The neighbor kids were always at our house (stay-at-home Mom with 6 kids) playing with the trunk of dress up clothes gleaned from garage sales, and later coming to play the old video games they used to play as kids and didn't have any more because they got the newest systems and gave the old stuff to us. We still have them, well maintained. Our kids were taking the clothes out of the dryer at two (usually they climbed most of the way in and, with sneakers flying, threw the laundry out the dryer door.) They had chore charts before they could read - with pictures. Now that they are reaching adulthood, we couldn't ask for more responsible kids.

Rocket Scientist said...

A friend once quipped "With the first baby you're sterilizing the pacifier if it falls on the floor, and by the last, you're taking it out of the dog's mouth and giving it back to the baby. Kids are resilient."

Karen said...

I LOVE this!! We raised five boys and I, too, have received similar comments to the I "could never have 7 kids and do it well." Talk about a snarky, two-edged compliment(?)! That really got to me and I shouldn't have let it. Bravo to you. I knew having children and loving them was a very good thing; I just couldn't put it into words so well. Thank you!!

Karen said...

I LOVE this!! We raised five boys and I, too, have received similar comments to the I "could never have 7 kids and do it well." Talk about a snarky, two-edged compliment(?)! That really got to me and I shouldn't have let it. Bravo to you. I knew having children and loving them was a very good thing; I just couldn't put it into words so well. Thank you!!

Anonymous said...

Love it!!! Took almost nine years to have the one and only and I was picky about some things, but overall fairly relaxed for having a "singleton". I didn't spend all my time trying to entertain him; I didn't trot him to endless lessons and sports ("Pick one thing for the semester; see it through.") He learned to clean up the kitchen at 10 (taught all of his girlfriends how to do so); laundry not long after; dusting; sweeping; litterbox, etc. After he got married it took my husband and me a year to figure out who the heck was going to mop the floors now that "the kid" wouldn't be available!

Peg Gawne-Mark said...

SIDS or no, my mother taught me to have my children sleep on their stomach because her child sleeping on his back threw up and asphyxiated himself. My five survived...and thrived. Kids remember they were loved, clothed and fed, not whether there are dust kitties under the bed. They are gone before you know it. Just love 'em!

Mary Ellen Barrett said...

Excellent post! I am a mom of seven who signed boys up for karate cause I hate to be outside.

This was hilarious.

Anonymous said...

As a mom of four, I learned long ago that kids are thrilled when you take the pbj's outside, turn on the sprinkler and tell them, "We're having a party!" Their enthusiasm does the rest!!

Anonymous said...

Funny! When I took my teen dtr to Home Depot and let her pick out the flourescent lime green paint for her room, the paint dept guy stared at me in disbelief and said "You are the coolest mom ever!" I can't wait to paint over it.

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