The following is an excerpt from Sh*tty Mom: The Parenting Guide for the Rest of Us, by Laurie Kilmartin, Karen Moline, Alicia Ybarbo, and Mary Ann Zoellner, published by Abrams Image and reprinted with permission.
OH, YOU JUST HAD AN EPIC MELTDOWN
As a mom, you’ve had a good couple weeks. Baths have been given, age-appropriate YouTube videos have been watched, and books have been read.
Something clicked, you’re in a groove. You start thinking maybe it’s time to add some weight to your pack. A kitchen remodel? A puppy? Another child? It all seems do-able!
Then, on a crisp, cloudless day … a rock tumbles down the mountain in the form of a lost shoe. Then another rock and another until it’s a mountain-slide. A sock flushed down the toilet, a diaper pulled off in the crib, peanut butter smeared on two walls, that Mickey Mouse cartoon on YouTube turns out to be a porno starring a girl named “Minnie Mouth.”
What happens next will become the stuff of family lore. You are about to lose your shit in epic fashion. Fifty years from now, your oldest will recount this day to huge laughs at your wake. Words are screamed, butts are spanked, walls are kicked, a watermelon is smashed. When you finish, everyone is crying—your kids, your husband, your dog, you. OK.
What should you do?
LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE.
- Everyone is alive! (Right?) OK! GOOD. Screaming? Even better … They are super alive.
- Are you at a Walmart? No? GOOD. Yes? Oh no! Get out of Walmart, ASAP. The store’s yellow happy face mascots are staring at you, making your meltdown all that more ironic. (If you must have a meltdown in a store, you will feel less trashy at a Target.)
- Know that it happens to everyone. While no one is condoning child abuse, every mother deserves one “Get Out of Family Court Free” card.
If this happens a lot, you can get cheap or free therapy. MFT grads are required to give thousands of hours of supervised therapy before they can get their license. Let a newbie take a crack at you! Your craziness can turn an ordinary grad student into a real therapist.
If it’s just a onetime freak-out, you are probably furious with yourself for losing your cool. Instead of beating yourself up for being the mother that you are, take a moment and focus on the mother that you aren’t:
Correction: Your two-pack-a-day, secondhand smoke-blowing mom. Just spitballing here, but a list of her probable crimes include:
- Putting you in the backseat without a seat belt
- Putting you in the front seat with just a lap belt
- Letting you ride your bike without a helmet
- Allowing you to sell Girl Scout cookies by yourself, in the exclusive Pedophile Woods condominium complex
- Telling you to stand up straight because hunched over you “look pregnant”
- Letting your male swim/gymnastics track coach take you on overnight trips that included pre-competition “rubdowns”
- Having never heard of bulimia, commenting on your weight loss by saying, “Whatever you’re doing, honey, keep it up!”
That lady is lucky the statute of limitations ran out.
A “TODDLERS AND TIARAS” MOM
Your four-year-old daughter might be screaming that you are mean, but you know what she isn’t doing? Trying to out-whore another four-year-old whose mom taught her to lip-synch to Lil’ Kim’s “Magic Stick.”
THAT MOM WHO LIVES DOWN THE STREET
That once-in-a-lifetime meltdown you just had? She calls that “Monday.” She’s writing a book called Fucking Awful Mom. Look for it in stores next year.
A FLORIDA MOM
OK, that’s a joke. Sort of. Maybe not. Sh*tty Mom is conflicted. Of course, not every mom in Florida is terrible, but recent events suggest that, at this moment in history, every terrible mother is from Florida.
If you are a Florida Mom, what the hell is going on down there? Are you being driven insane by the rest of us driving through your state, looking for Disney World? Or is it the senior citizens? Was it a bad idea for all of America to send their parents to Florida, without also sending psychologists for the rest of Florida? Can you leave Florida, raise your kids in Minnesota, then return when you are of retirement age and too old to do anything but enjoy the Early Bird Special?
A METH MOM
While there’s no “good” time to be a meth addict, certainly the worst time would be when you are pregnant. And you didn’t do that. Tiny victories!
A “NOT THIS TIME” MOM
Look, you could have avoided this whole mess with one quick trip to Planned Parenthood. (Unless you live in Kansas. Then, it’s a twelve-hour bus ride to Chicago.) Instead, you let that damn baby blast a four-lane highway through your quiet, one-way street. Surely that counts for something.
P.S. If you are going to remind your kids that you could have aborted them, save it for the right occasion. That is an ace up your sleeve that you don’t want to waste on the three-year-old when she spills her orange juice. Wait until she’s fifteen and throws a house party when you’re out of town. Sit her down on your beer-soaked couch and explain that you are about to tell her something that she will one day pass on to her own daughter when she trashes her house. Then lean in and say, “I could’ve gotten rid of you. And I didn’t. You’re fucking welcome. Now clean up this goddamn mess and never let it happen again or I will build a time machine and take us both back to the day you were conceived.”
Remember: The mom who has never lost control is not worth knowing.
Appears in This Land, Vol. 3, Issue 19. Oct. 1, 2012.