I dread the day the words “You’re the meanest mom!” are uttered. Hopefully it will never happen… It is usually combined with a phrase similar to “Well, so-and-so’s Mom let’s them do it!” I’m just bracing myself for the debut of phrases like these in our household.
When I found the story “The World’s Meanest Mom”, I knew that I was ready to take on those words with pride. I might even make a t-shirt!
The Meanest Mom
“I had the meanest mother in the whole world. While other kids had no breakfast, I had to have cereal, eggs, and toast. When others had pop and candy for lunch, I had to eat a sandwich. My mother insisted on knowing where we were at all times. You’d think we were on a chain gang. She had to know who our friends were and what we were doing. She insisted that if we said we’d be gone for an hour, that we would be gone for one hour or less.
“I am ashamed to admit it, but she actually had the nerve to break the child labor law. She made us wash the dishes, make beds, learn to cook, and all sorts of cruel things. I believe she lay awake nights thinking up mean things for us to do. She always insisted that we tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
“By the time we were teenagers she was much wiser, and our lives became even more miserable. None of this tooting the horn of a car for us to come running. She embarrassed us to no end by making our dates and friends come to the door to get us.
“My mother was a complete failure as a mother. None of us have ever been arrested or beaten a rap. Each of my brothers has served a mission, and his country. And whom do we have to blame for this terrible way we turned out? You’re right—our mean mother. Look at all the things we have missed. We never got to take part in a riot, burn draft cards, and a million and one other things that our friends did. She made us grow up into educated, honest adults. Using this as a background, I am trying to raise my children. I stand a little taller and I am filled with pride when my children call me mean. You see, I thank God that he gave me the meanest mother in the whole world.” (Orien Fifer, Phoenix Gazette)
How Am I Doing?
I realize I am already headed down the meanest mom road. My kids head off to school having prepared their own lunches. Their class presentation projects were clearly done all by themselves, rather than elaborately decorated by a mom who stayed up all night to make sure it looked cute. Playdates are turned down if I cannot get to know their friend’s family first, etc. My kids can clean a bathroom as well as I can by age 6.
Every mother is different. Every mother is trying their best. My best is different than the next person’s, and the inspiration I receive on how to best raise my children is different than another mothers’. There is no way to truly understand exactly what another mother goes through on a daily basis and what they are sacrificing for their children.
What I Hope For
I want to create a sense of self-worth in my children, helping them see that they can do hard things on their own. I want them to know that sometimes the way I say “I love you” is in saying “no”. Hopefully someday they will know and understand how hard it was for me to sit back and watch them struggle instead of jumping in and bailing them out. I want them to see that their lives of plenty, but not drowning in overabundance and entitlement was in an effort for them to be independent.
They may not realize it now, but I hope when they are grown and gone, they will be able to reflect on their childhood and say that they too are glad that they had the meanest mother in the whole world.
Are you a mean mom too?