The Bearded Iris

A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

Tag: women’s issues

An open letter to the rude stage mother I encountered yesterday

I’ve struggled with my frustration toward “Helicopter Moms” for years, much to my dismay. Because really, I don’t want to care so much about how or why people do what they do. I want to be a “live and let live” kind of mom and focus my energy on my own stuff and my own kids.

But yesterday I had an interaction with a fellow mother that was so unsettling, I needed to write it out to help me process it.

My 10-year-old daughter was performing for the fifth and final time as a workhouse orphan in the local high school musical Oliver!

Mini-Me, signing autographs after the show...

Mini-Me, signing autographs after the show…be still my heart!

One of her classmates does a lot of local theater and according to her mother, “has been doing it forever.” Another mom and I were talking to that girl’s mother after the show and asked her how she finds out about all the local auditions, thinking our daughters might like to do more acting too.

Well, either this mom had accidentally put her thong on backwards that day, or she didn’t want any more competition for her daughter because her response was a very chilly, “Oh, word of mouth,” followed by, “…and the more shows you do, the more opportunities you get. In fact, Emma just won a scholarship to study in New York this summer.”

Intrigued, I asked, “Do you go with her for things like that?” Because really, I was just wondering how stage moms with multiple kids support their child’s interests if it requires travel.

But instead of answering my question respectfully, this woman turned directly to the other mom in our little conversation circle, rolled her eyes, and very sarcastically replied “No. I put my child on a plane alone to New York City.”

She wasn’t even looking at me when she said this. She was looking at the other mom and smirking like “Can you believe this chick just asked me that?!”

I was so caught off guard by her snarky reply that I countered “I’ve actually put my kids on planes alone before.” (Which is true. I have. My two older ones traveled alone to visit their grandparents once. Probably not the kind of thing I would ever do again…live and learn.)

But silly me, of course this mother would never dream of letting one of her children out of her sight even for a minute.

She then looked at me like I was wearing a pelt of human infant skin and her countenance told me she was not at all surprised I would put my children on a plane alone. If thought bubbles were real, hers would have read: “Of course you have, bless your heart.”

Which of course was my cue to KEEP. ON. TALKING. Because what better way is there to deal with a mean girl than to develop sudden diarrhea of the mouth?

“I mean…I’m just curious, because you have other kids. What do you do with them when you travel for things like this?”

“It’s only for a week.” (eye roll)

“But who takes care of your other kids?” I pressed.

“My husband.”  (unspoken body language: “Duh.”)

“Does he work from home?” (me, not letting go)

“Yes.” (unspoken: “Get a clue. And why are you wearing a pelt of baby skins?”)

Better late than never, I finally got the message she was not going to be more friendly or helpful or even civil in this conversation. She clearly had the market cornered on how to be a successful stage mother and she wasn’t going to give us any insight into how she keeps so many balls in the air.

Bitch.

I’m pretty sure these aren’t really the kind of situations Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright had in mind when she said “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” She was probably talking about much higher level scenarios like negotiating with international terrorists or the women who answer the phones at the pediatrician’s office.

But still.

How hard would it have been for that mother to be pleasant, or helpful, or just not a fucking asshole?

And it finally dawned on me why Helicopter Moms like her irritate me so much.

It’s because their extreme hovering makes me question if I’m doing a good enough job mothering my own children.

Because sometimes it’s hard to know what came first, the independent children or the non-hovering mother? And does it even matter? Why does there have to be a right way and a wrong way to do this?

Should I be pushing my kids to win summer camp scholarships? Should I be attending all five showings of this 2.5 hour play (at $12 a pop, to see my kid in one five minute scene)? Should I not have allowed my two older kids to visit their grandparents without me that summer? Should I be writing this blog post when I could be vying for a good position in the carpool line or making flashcards or researching which extra curricular activities will help my kids get into the colleges that will ultimately help them earn the kind of salaries they will need to buy me the best nursing home money can buy?

Of course not. Because that is not my style or what my kids require.

I am exactly the kind of mother my children need.

I am exactly the kind of mother my children need.

My kids are creative, and independent, and can make people laugh and recite haikus about poop and have unstructured fun and study for tests without Pinterest-worthy embossed flash cards.

And they will be okay regardless of what I do or don’t do to help them. In fact, I know in my gut that they are better off for having to figure some things out on their own without my constant presence or input.

But it never makes it any easier to deal with those sanctimonious Helicopter Moms when our paths do cross.

Perhaps they are put in my life to help me grow as a loving, compassionate woman. For I have no control over the things they say or do…only the way I respond to them.

In which case…

Dear Stage Mother Superior,

Thank you for reminding me yesterday that I am an awesome mother. And so are you, in your own special way, bless your heart.

Kindly, and with compassion for your lack of grace and social skills,

-Leslie

PS – Watch your back, because my daughter WILL be at that next audition, and I’m letting her borrow my baby-skin-pelt. See you there! 

 

 

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The first rule of PMS Club…

Just because Halloween’s over doesn’t mean all scary things have to be packed away.

Picture this: it’s a cold, dark, rainy night. I’m in my jammies, on the couch, under my favorite blanket, watching the election results and playing Words With Friends during commercial breaks.

My husband gets up to grab a snack. “Want anything?” he sweetly asks.

“Yeah. How about a handful of Peppermint Patties from the freezer. And a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos. Hey, do we have any beef jerky?”

“Oh.” His tone drops. “Okay.”

We’ve been married for fifteen years. He knows what this means.  

The Bearded Iris: PMS - its coming from inside the house!

As if me bursting into tears earlier that day over a Folgers commercial wasn’t enough of a red flag.

And then this happened on Twitter…


Just teared up at the commercial for the Abraham Lincoln movie. PMS and this election really have me jacked up.
@MamaMaryShow
Mary Burt-Godwin

 

And I was all, “Oh Thank GOD I’m not the only one.” Which is reason #472 why I love Twitter so much. Instant support group. Fo’ free!

In fact, a bunch of other gals jumped right in to reply to Mary’s confession and we started our own impromptu PMS Club…as hormonally charged women are wont to do:

Seriously. THIS? This is how you make new friends on Twitter, for those of you who have told me you just can’t get into it. Just look for opportunities to interact. Sometimes people respond, sometimes they don’t. But when they do? It can be really fun, and/or comforting.

A few more gals appeared with great offers for what they’d like to bring to our burgeoning PMS Party. @JulieTheWife was ready and willing with her T-Pain microphone and a flame thrower. HOLLA! That girl clearly knows how to par-tay. @JustUsChicks and @AuthorJenTucker chimed in with things like Fritos and wine. Someone may or may not have offered to bring a chainsaw. A screening of The Notebook was planned, complete with spooning. And at one point Mary shared that she has a gold tooth. It was off the hook, y’all.

And all of it was way more fun than biting my nails over the electoral college or skinning my husband and wearing his furry pelt as a cape. (Animal prints are so hot right now, don’t you know.)

But it got me thinking. We should probably establish some rules to our new PMS Club. Here’s my first draft. It might sound a little familiar…

First Rule of PMS Club: You do not talk about PMS Club.

Second Rule: You DO NOT talk about PMS CLUB.

Third Rule: If someone yells “stop,” goes limp, or bursts into tears, just back off.

Fourth Rule: There are no wrong food combinations, only insufficient quantities.

Fifth Rule: If provoked, use one weapon at a time, ladies. And try to make it look like self defense or an accident.

Sixth Rule: No bras, no shoes.

Seventh Rule: PMS will go on as long as we say it does.

Eighth Rule: If this is your first night at PMS Club, you have to bring enough Percocet for everyone.

What am I missing? And what are you bringing to the PMS Party?!

By the way, if you’re looking for some funny women to follow on Twitter, I highly recommend the founding members of the PMS Club. You can follow all of them here. And please join in the fun! If you’ve ever dipped Slim Jims in melted chocolate, cried over a Today Show segment about holiday crafts, or wondered about the pros and cons of premeditated homicide, you’ll fit right in.

Now please hand me my hot water bottle and get the hell out of my way before I cut you.

Sincerely,
Leslie

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