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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Fuck it. I am That Mom. [My Messy Beautiful]

I never had any intention of being that mom. I always envisioned floating through life with red high heels, my children in tow, smiling, listening, dreaming right by my side, hand in hand. If someone fell down we would pick them right back up with such laughter and zeal that we would barely miss a beat in our floating paradise. We would be so light and refreshing to be around that people would want to drink us in like lemonade in June. And then one day, I had real actual children in a real actual life.

Enter the motherload of stereotypes. Whether we enjoy it or not, there are stereotypes, cliques and Saturday Night Live skits devoted to motherhood. Some of us fall into one category, some have pieces of all of them. Some moments we are on fire, non-stop wonders on top of the world. The next moment, it can all come crashing down on our sleep deprived minds, especially if that moment includes the word lice.

Those who make it look easy are either:
  1. Faking it (this is my specialty; please don't mention it to my husband).
  2. Surviving on caffeine.
  3. Drinking bloody marys for breakfast.
  4. Have all their children out of their home.
We are all just one kid peeing on the carpet away from completely losing our shit.

Just a few of the stereotypes:

  • The "I Heart my Minivan" Mom.

Why not show your love in t-shirt form while driving your minivan?

  • The "I Hate my Minivan but it is a Necessary Evil" Mom.

That's right. You are so gangster.

  • The "I Put the Happy in Happy Hour" Mom.

Now that is dedication to the cause.

  • The "I Wouldn't Put on Heels if You Paid Me" Mom.

If only they were higher.

  • The "I Might Not Have Made It Into the Pros but My Kids are Going to Die Trying" Mom.

This doesn't seem right.

  • The "More Pulled Together than Gwenyth" Mom.

Here they are unconsciously coupled. Say what you will about her but she has excellent taste in jackets.

  • The "Lives in Yoga Clothes but Isn't Going to Yoga" Mom.

 Our secret.

  • The "Pinterest has Exploded all Over my Living Room" Party Throwing Mom.

The one on the right reminds me of every cake I have ever made. Nailed it.

  • The "I Have So Many Children and I'm Lucky if I Know Where One of Them Is" Mom.

The shoe might make it easier to keep them contained. I'll take a modest shoe by the shore please.

And then there is "That Mom." When talking to fellow mothers, you often hear them say it as a preface to something else that they don't want to be that mom. For example, "I was going to tell the coach that it might be crazy to reward the whole team after every game with candy bars, but I didn't want to be that mom." Another playground conversation, "I was going to request the really awesome teacher next year instead of the really shitty one but you know- who wants to be that mom?" Or the ever popular (but unfortunate), "Who does that mom think that she is?" The stigma of that mom is a playground urban legend.  Do you want to never be invited to happy hour again? Be that mom. You think Jimmy is going to be invited to the fourth grade sleepover? Not going to happen mom. People would rather get that fish-eating-off-your-dead-skin pedicure than be that mom. Once you fall into this category, people will see you as an overachiever, a super mom, a kiss ass to the faculty. It is a hard stereotype to break no matter how much of a slacker and a wine lover you really are.

Fuck it. I am That Mom. Here is why.

When my oldest daughter Lucy was in the second grade, she fell out of love with learning. In Kindergarten and first grade she had soaked school at its every spelling word, experiment and equation. But in second grade she was in a teachers class that instilled fear instead of belief. Her teacher was one who frequently yelled out loud, held a short fuse and lost her love of teaching what seemed like long ago. Seven and eight year olds including Lucy were rattled and frightened. 

I was taught that you are not going to love every teacher, not every one is a perfect match for the way that you learn. I passed on to Lucy how strong and smart she was and how much her father and I believed in her. We believed in her persevearance. We would get through this year and be all the stronger for it. Keep showing up, keep trying your best, you have warrior blood in your veins. Technically, she has Greek, Italian and Irish blood pumping through her but that is basically the same thing.

Her passion for education dwindled. Stomach problems arose. Headaches were a daily occurrence. By late March, her digestive track brought her to tears and I took her to the pediatrician. The doctor asked her a series of questions, mostly relating to school and her teacher. Lucy waited in the waiting room when as the door closed the doctor turned to me and said, "She is scared to death of her teacher." 

I cried the tears of a mother who knows she is at fault. It could have been different. It should have been different. I thought it was an emotional strain that could be vacuumed and survived for just one year. But it was now physically weighing on every aspect of her. She was diagnosed with acid reflux and given daily medication for it. The doctor recommended a child therapist and wrote me a note to give to the school to ensure that next year she should and would be able to get the teacher of her choosing. A prescription of permission to be that mom.

I did request a teacher and now in third grade we have struck gold. Lucy is head over cleats for her teacher and learning and all that you hope your child will absorb when they are in elementary school. Her pain has lifted. She no longer needs medication or therapy. She is thriving. Her current teacher said something at Parents Night that I won't soon forget. She said, "A scared child doesn't learn."

Let us remember that when thinking of the bullies of the playground and the bullies that may be leading the classroom. Maybe before we dole out stereotypes we could dole out compassion. And if being that mom has a negative connotation than I will do my part to take it lightly and keep on fighting for those so young that fear is the last thing they should feel behind classroom doors. At the end of the day, it is our children's well being that trumps any stereotype. Others presume that you want special privileges for your children but the reality is that you just have the best interest of your child at stake. And if you aren't going to be an advocate for your child than who is? We are all trying the best that we can so let's give each other a break, there is already enough pressure to go around. If it takes a village to raise a child let's make sure we represent the type of village that everyone would want to be a part of. A beautiful messy village; an honest and real tribe- that is now my floating paradise.

Here's to being all that you are...


This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE... And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE! I was able to meet Glennon last year at a signing and have absolutely loved her Carry On Warrior book as well as her refreshingly real and honest blog. Wishing her all great things... she beyond deserves it. 


  1. Wow, I just love this. Thank you so much for sharing!!

  2. You changed your daughter's life by being "that Mom"! Great piece.

    1. Thank you for reading and for your beautiful words... xo

  3. Nice! It is never okay for teachers to terrify children.

    1. I completely agree! Endless thanks for reading...

  4. Loved this! Here's to being that mom!!

  5. I am proud of you for being "that Mom" and I know that you will always be an advocate for our gchildren.

    Jack T