I’m The Mean Parent And I Don’t Care If You Like It
The mean parent. Everyone had one growing up. The parent you would avoid when asking permission to go to the mall, the parent who always came in during a sleepover to tell you when it was time for lights out. I swore before I had children that I would never be that parent. I told myself I would follow my awesome step-dad’s example of no curfew on prom night and letting my middle-schoolers go to the mall without an adult. But now I’m a mom, and after seeing all that goes into raising a child, my position has shifted. Turns out, I’m the mean parent, and I’m okay with that.
I’m the one that ends the games of airplane they have with their dad when I hear them start those deep throated giggles that preface puke. It’s my role to say ‘No’ when they plead for another snack before dinner. I insist on serving veggies with meals and I’m the one who turns off the iPad so they don’t spend the entire day watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Recently I’ve become the mean mommy who refuses to hand over my son’s beloved binkie– even when he says please.
My husband gets to be the fun parent. He suggests the impromptu trip to the playground without regard for the kids’ nap schedule, slips them cookies when he thinks I’m not paying attention. It’s him the boys go running to when they want to be chased around the house, not me.
I don’t begrudge my husband for being the fun parent. I spend all day with the kids, so if I were to do the math, I’m fairly confident that the amount of “fun” time we each have with the kids is pretty even. And I know that if push comes to shove with a parenting issue, my husband has my back.
It’s obvious that my kids don’t like me when I set firm boundaries- they cry real, outraged tears and sob the deep wails of the truly indignant. But I don’t care, because it is important for them to learn that life isn’t always about what they want. Yes, it’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it.
Of course I love my children, but the way I see it, part of loving them is teaching them to grow up and not be assholes. And a big part of that is learning to follow rules. Even if they grow up to start their own businesses and be their own boss, they still won’t have carte blanch to do whatever they want. Unless I want little Dexter-like sociopaths running around, I’d rather be the one to teach them right from wrong.
Besides, they may give me the pout-pout lip or go stalking off to appeal to Daddy, but once they get over it, they always come crawling back into my lap for hugs or stories, so I know I’m not damaging my relationship with them by being the mean parent. Setting rules and sticking to them does not make them love me any less.
Now if you’ll pardon me- it’s ten minutes past bedtime and there’s a fort in the living room that I need to go shut down for the night.