Most of the time, I'm what most would call a "laid back" mom. I try to treat my kids like people and show them respect. I also try not to engage in epic battles over things like clothes or cleaning their plate at dinnertime, because it's just not worth it. Plus, I'm tired AF. That said, there are definitely moments when I refuse to be the "nice" mom. Why? Well, because as much as I want my kids to like me, I won't put my kids' safety or wellbeing on the line to make it happen.
The way I see it, my job is to love my kids unconditionally, to keep them alive and healthy, and to gently draw boundaries when they need to be drawn in order to make those things happen. That means being "mean" every once in a while. One of the hardest transitions in parenting, for me, was getting over the idea that my kids wouldn't always like me. Honestly, I'm not really over it, I've just had to accept it, because my kids definitely hate me at least once a day. The worst part? They tell me they hate me, too.
"You are the worst mom in the whole world," my 8 year old screamed. What was it this time? That I made her do her homework? Demanded she brush her teeth? Insisted she help clean up the mess she made all over the living room floor before she could have screen time? It could be any of those, or several, all at the same time. It's so freaking hard, you guys. When my kids were toddlers they loved me. I mean it. They were so attached to me they needed an hour of snuggling with me to fall asleep at night, still made their way to our bed at some point during the night, and wanted hugs and kisses as soon as they woke up in the morning. Then, some time around age 3 for my daughter and age 4 for my son, things changed. They started testing boundaries, throwing tantrums, and saying, "no." Gone are my sweet babies and gone is their "nice mom," at least some of the time.
When They Are Doing Something Dangerous
Sometimes my kids do seriously dangerous things. I remember waking up one morning when my son was a toddler and finding him on top of the refrigerator. It was the first time I ever raised my voice with him, and I felt terrible. As a mom, I have definitely had to learn that sometimes a moment of feeling like a "mean" mom is worth it if it means my kids don't put themselves in harm's way.
When Their Homework Isn't Done
OMFG I am so over arguing with kids about homework. I honestly wish their school would stop sending it home. They lie, cheat, cry, and complain about homework for longer than it would have taken them to complete their assigned tasks in the first place. We have the same rule every day and it's never changed: homework before screens.
When They Lie
Honesty is super important in our house and family. I honestly think that's why my kids lie. They feel safe testing boundaries with my partner and I, and telling lies is a way to do that while simultaneously enjoying some serious attention in the process. My husband and I take lying very seriously. Any child who admits to a mistake will be praised, while kids who lie, even about little things, will get to see my mean side.
When They Hurt Each Other
I think I should get a quarter every time I have to tell my kids, "hands are not for hurting," or "we don't use our bodies to hurt people. Make them stop.
When They Are Being Mean To The Cat
We also don't hurt our animals. Luckily our cats are really good hiders and relatively laid back. Seriously though, don't hurt the cat or I won't be held responsible for any scratches or bites you might receive in return.
When They Break The Rules
I've never really expected obedience from my kids, but is it asking too much for my children to not be willfully disobedient? There are few things that make me lose my temper faster than one of our children doing something in front of me that I literally just asked them not to do. Come on!
When They Won't Help Out
Keeping our house clean sometimes makes me feel like Sisyphus pushing a rock up a hill, only to have it roll back down again immediately after I finally reach the top.
Getting my kids to do chores is, well, impossible, so we get creative. We regularly exchange quarters, Pokemon cards, and minutes of screen time for helping out around the house. That generally works for a little while before they refuse to help. It's so frustrating, especially when it's a new mess made by the very child who wants me to clean it up.
When They Are Being Unkind
We have a rule in our house that unless something is kind, true, and necessary, we don't say it. Then one kid slights another or eats the last whatever-was-offered-them and all of a sudden they are seriously saying (or shouting) unkind things to each other. Not cool.
When They Are Rude
I don't mind if my kids don't want to eat what I prepared, and I will never make them clean their plates, but I draw the line at listening to them be rude about it. If I have to hear how gross the food I made is, I'm not going to be nice when I respond. Same goes for saying, "please" and "thank you," and not talking about poop all of the time.
When Someone Bullies My Kid
So, as much as my kids get to see the mean mom side of me, heaven help the person who bullies one of them. Not only will you get an earful, you're going to get walked home to tell your parents what you did. And if you are an adult, you should freaking know better. I am so not a "nice" mom to people who hurt my kids.