Posted in Mommyhood

I’m a Howler

Last Updated on May 10, 2020 by World's Okayest Mom

You a Mean One, Mom

Last night, My Girl and I read through part of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (book 2). We were at the great part when Ron and Harry are in trouble for stealing the flying car and crashing it into the Whomping Willow. Sitting at breakfast, Ron received a Howler.

I was doing a great Mrs. Weasley impersonation and channeling my inner Howler when My Girl stopped me.

“That’s what you sounded like today!”

That’s when I realized, I really am a Mean Mom.

It’s true. I’m a Mean Mom

I always say I’m a Mean Mom. Usually, it’s in jest and My Girl will be quick to say I’m the “nicest Mommy in the world.” It’s nice to be corrected, but I’m pretty sure she’s just manipulating me.

I’ll take it, though.

I know I have my trigger points. I listed a bunch of them the other week – see here.

And I also know I can be a bit of a push-over, especially when My Girl turns on the melted chocolate eyes that she has – see here.

But when it really boils down to it, I’m no better than a screaming telegram.

The Mean Mom List

A couple of weeks ago, I ran across a blog post from Perfection Pending – 10 Things Mean Moms Have in Common. This was pre-Howler comment, but it has been on my mind a lot. Mainly because I can totally relate.

  1. Mean Moms make their kids clean up their own messes
  2. Mean Moms make kids take responsibility
  3. Mean Moms make their kids wear clothing that will protect them from weather and/or don’t make them look homeless
  4. Mean Moms sometimes don’t play with their kids so they’ll use their imaginations
  5. Mean Moms make them earn their rewards
  6. Mean Moms make kids do chores (sometimes without an allowance)
  7. Mean Moms don’t allow stuff that other parents are doing
  8. Mean Moms make their kids eat something other than mac and cheese for every meal
  9. Mean Moms ignore their children sometimes
  10. Mean Moms teach their kids that the world does not revolve around them

So, if we’re keeping score, I tallied an easy 8 out of 10. And some of those are just because we aren’t there yet.

I can’t say I have a lot of issues with #7, but that’s mainly because Monica and I are completely in sync when it comes to parenting. So My Girl has yet to come home with the complaint: “But Jane is allowed to do it!” (insert whiny voice that is like nails on a chalkboard).

I don’t know how good I am at making My Girl earn her rewards. I love giving gifts (you can read about my Love Language here), so when I find things that I know she will love, I may, possibly, accidentally, just buy it. You can say it: spoiled.

And I wouldn’t say I’m completely on the dark side. Even a Howler has some nice things to say. I’ve actually found the best technique for parenting My Girl is to simultaneously use threats and bribery. Threats are ok. Bribery is hit or miss. But put them together…

It’s the PB&J of parenting – the perfect mix of mom guilt (like I once threatened to shave her head if she put her hair in her mouth one more time) and mom self-loathing (as in I’m going to spoil her and make us go bankrupt since I just offered to buy her a pony if she doesn’t make a noise during my work-from-home Zoom meeting).

The last one didn’t actually happen. As in she made a noise. Lots of them, in fact. Not as in I didn’t offer the pony. That 100 percent happened.

But other than that, according to the list, I’m mean.

Mean Mom Chores

I certainly make My Girl clean up her own mess. Often, I make her clean up my mess too. She’s been a master picker-upper from a very young age. She knows how to mop and vacuum. She washes windows. She’s constantly having to pick up her toys. Gasp. Yes, I make her pick up her toys.

What’s the point of having kids if you don’t make them help with housework? (Yes, I just read that back to myself. I know how awful it sounds. But I stand by it.)

Before My Girl, The Husband and I were hoping to adopt a little boy from Ukraine. After the heartache of that failed adoption healed a bit, The Husband was able to joke. (By the way, he’s also awful. Like marries like.)

I asked him why he hadn’t invested in a snow blower yet, as we live in Northern Indiana, prone to system and lake-effect snow. He joked:

“Because I thought we would have a Ukrainian one by now!”

Yes. We fully endorse child labor.

Mean Mom clothes and consequences

As a Mean Mom, I love telling My Girl about “natural consequences.” You forget to do your homework… You get a bad grade. You spill your bowl of cereal because you were pretending your fingers were Simba jumping onto Pride Rock… You clean it up. (That’s Mean Mom #1 AND #2! Two birds, one stone, or something like that.)

I definitely don’t allow My Girl to dress inappropriately for the weather, but more likely, the conversation revolves around her not looking like a “hoodlum,” as I say it. And you have to put a little Wisconsian accent on the “oo’s” of “hoodlum.” That involves her actually brushing her hair (shocking!) and keeping it out of her face (how dare I?!) so she doesn’t look like a caveman.

My favorite on the list may be #4. I used to think that I didn’t play with My Girl because I’m mean. Straight and simple. But really, it’s because I’m forcing her to use her own imagination, as Perfection Pending made me realize. That sounds much better. And obviously, that was my intention all along. Obvi. It wasn’t that I get bored silly when she asks me to play My Little Pony and that I get frustrated when she bosses me around during playtime. “Say this. Do this.”

It’s because I’m giving her the opportunity to grow and use her imagination. Really, I’m more of a saint than a Mean Mom.

Mean Mom and happy girl
Sure. She looks happy here. Just wait until my Mean Mom Voice reaches a 99.

My Girl and her Mean Mom

After 57 days of uninterrupted and forced family time, My Girl is starting to believe in the meanness of her momma.

Before quarantine, we’ll refer to that time as BQ, I was still the “nicest mom in the universe, because there may be alien moms,” according to My Girl. She even rated my “Mean Mom Voice” on a scale of 1 – 100 (I suggested a scale of 1 – 10, but she wanted to be very specific) as a 56.

Remember: BQ, I was a 56.

Now we are During Quarantine – DQ, if you will. Oh! DQ! The answer to DQ is always medium chocolate chip cookie dough blizzard. But I just distracted myself.

After a couple of rough days, like really rough days, My Girl was whistling a different tune about my niceness in the universe and my 1 – 100 rating.

In fact, she nicely, and I say that with sincerity, told me the other day that BQ, she never imagined she could get sick of me. But now, DQ, she would like to spend a week at Grandma’s house.

Also, in a separate but related conversation, she rated my Meanness as a 98.5. That wasn’t said as sweetly.

I don’t blame her. And I wasn’t even offended. I can be downright mean sometimes. But I’m not going to say I’m completely unprovoked.

If you want to see me go from 0 to 100 faster than Nicholas Cage, My Girl just needs to do her new thing. It’s the precursor to an eye roll, I fear. She does this sigh. Deep sigh with her eyes closed. Ok. As I write that, I realize it doesn’t sound so bad. But, while we are DQ, it grates on my already thin nerves.

I want to be a Mean Mom

And, to tell the truth, I’m ok with her thinking I’m higher than a 56 on the mean scale (though a 98 may be overkill), and I’m very much ok with Grandma being her refuge. I’m not Lorelai Gilmore. I’m not aiming to be her friend during childhood. (BQ, she would beg to differ and say I was her best friend, but that’s up for debate these days.)

I’m her mom. Not her friend. Isn’t that how it’s supposed to be? I don’t remember my mom being my friend growing up. In fact, there may have been some meanness on the scale, even. But now, she’s my best friend. And cheerleader. And moral support.

I’m ok with waiting until After Childhood (AC) to be that for My Girl.

Mean Moms are Howlers. Right?

My biggest concern with the Perfection Pending list though, is that I immediately noticed that “Mean Moms scream like psychopaths at their children” was not on the list. Nowhere even close to the list. In fact, I didn’t find it anywhere on the website.



Because if you didn’t get the clue from many previous posts about my struggles with screaming and My Girl referring to me as a Howler, I may have, on more than one occasion, screamed at My Girl like a psychopath.

Not only am I a Mean Mom, but I’m also a terrible person. Full disclosure: I love hearing that other moms yell at their kids. No, not yell. We all yell across the backyard and up the stairs. I love hearing when other moms scream – full out, hurt their own vocal chords, neighbors hear every gory detail and the dog cowers in the corner trembling.

It’s not that I want this entire generation of children to grow up being screamed at on a regular basis. That makes me sad.

I just like knowing that I’m not alone. Maybe, just maybe, I’m not doing such a terrible job if Rachel Hollis screams at her kids too. If that PTO mom who always seems to have her shit together just screamed at her straight A student to “Get. Out. Of. This. Car. Now.” at the elementary drop-off line, maybe it’s not so terrible.

Maybe I’m not so mean.

But I’m still a Howler.

Share your own imperfections.