Column: The unpopular mom

Moms of Stillwater
Moms of Stillwater

Are there any other moms who lie in bed on Mother’s Day morning, wincing at the orchestra of dropped dishes in the kitchen?

I’m not saying I want to intervene. I know my place. It’s my duty to stay tucked up in my sheets and put on an Oscar-worthy look of surprise when the breakfast train finally makes it to my sleep station. But I think we were down a full set of juice glasses by 6:30 a.m.

Frankly, I was relieved to hear the train a rumblin’ this year. Grateful to hear all four would-be conductors bickering about what should top the toast, who should carry the tray, who should sweep the juice glasses …

Lately, I have not been very popular around here.

I vaguely remember days when I felt like the “fun mom.” Days when the “yeses” outnumbered the “nos.”

Yes, we can go to the zoo!

Yes, we can spray Daddy’s shaving cream into the pool!

Yes, we can go get ice cream … again!

Toddlers are pretty easy to impress. A sink full of bubbles is magical, and monkeys and ice cream are golden.

Rules were few, and my job revolved around keeping them safe, fed and well-rested. This was its own feat, of course. Many a day did I look around and wonder how I was going to make it until noon without reinforcements. (Enter multiple trips for ice cream …).

But the love was easy. So easy. No matter how exhausted or filthy you felt at the end of the day, eventually you would have the supreme pleasure of gathering up their tired little limbs into your lap and rocking them until their questions slowed, their eyelids drooped and their breaths fell deep and rhythmic against your neck.

That sacred little place between your chin and your shoulder where all is forgiven. All is safe and loved. Each breath a silent verse of a promised new song for tomorrow.

This was before they could make signs and tape them to my back without my knowledge.

“Excuse me. This was on your back,” a stranger informs me cautiously. She hands me a piece of paper with crinkled duct tape on top.

It reads: Marmie Stebbins (half Marny half Mommy …) I’m a lasee mathr. In quotes.

No, she’s not trying out her Irish accent. That’s a LAZY with an “s” and double “e,” not the young Irish “lassie” who can fiddle and dance with a head full of bouncing curls. A fine example of my kindergartner’s current writing passion. Hooked on phonics, indeed. I receive these splendid little notes all day long.

This is my condemnation for banning flip-flops as an option for school footwear: public scorn via letterhead.

A drop in the bucket. I am, by all current definitions, a “mean” mom.

I insist on helmets and car seats. Loudly. Repeatedly. In front of friends, if need be.

At age 11, you have earned yourself your own “laundry night.” Here is the Tide. Half a cup is plenty!

We don’t leave the yard without asking. Ever. Not even for the ice cream truck.

Netflix is not a free pass to PG-13 movies. Permission required.

Don’t even get me started on the pool. Nothing kills a good party buzz more than your old mom jumping in the pool, fully dressed, to yank you out of the deep end by your shorts. It only has to happen once.

And of course, the prime grievance: No phones for kids. Period.


They are a different kind of work now, but it doesn’t mean I love them any less. I fall deeper in love with them each time I watch them struggle out an argument for BB guns and pet snakes. I still fight the urge to become the crazy lady in the children’s book, “I’ll Love You Forever” who picks up her grown son and rocks him back and forth in his own bed. Crazy love is real.

But, they’re heavy. And I would never, ever risk waking them up.

And even mean moms get cumin toast for Mother’s Day. Yes, cumin (because cumin and cinnamon both start with a “c” and end with an “n”). The kindergartner must have won that battle of the conductors. Although, it very well could have had the blessing of her older brothers.

A little spicy. A lot of love. A killer mix.