“You’re a bad mommy,” Jack said during lunch. “You always do these bad things.”
Gus was screaming in my arms because I wouldn’t let him suck his thumb and eat at the same time. Ellie had bitten my finger so hard that it bled because I wouldn’t let her put chalk in her mouth. Jack had smashed my thumb in a toy because I wasn’t playing with it right. I looked in the mirror and realized that I was still in my pajamas.
“He’s right,” I thought when I saw my dirty hair and sidewalk chalk-smeared face reflecting back at me.
I sat down and asked him, most earnestly, “Oh yeah, just what bad things do I always do?”
He had a list of grievances that I am publishing here so that they stand as public record. I have edited them for clarity.
1. The kids must take baths. While I do give them skip nights a few times a week, the majority of days do require soap and washing their hair.
2. Jack has a chore chart that includes horrible, impossible tasks like brushing his teeth, putting dirty clothes in the laundry and picking up toys. If he is ever able reach the unattainable goal of receiving one sticker for each chore for thirty days, he will be able to get the remote-controlled monster truck that he has wanted “for years.”
3. Not every night, but most nights we have “Toy Clean Up” where we clean up the enormous number of toys that my kids are burdened with. This exercise includes music and dancing; therefore, it is the worst.
4. I pull Ellie’s hair back out of her face so that she cannot chew on it.
5. We do not allow the children to play in the garbage or with broken glass. I know, I know, this one is especially unfair, the kids yell at us for it all the time.
6. Honaker children are not allowed to play in the street and they cannot go outside without letting an adult know first.
7. The candy basket is kept on a shelf that is too high for anyone under 5 ft. tall to reach.
8. After playing outside, everyone must wash his or her hands.
9. Playing with dead things that you find in the yard or on the sidewalk is not allowed.
10. Ellie is not allowed to play with her feeding tube button on her stomach, electrical outlets or her diaper.
11. All Honaker children must learn how to read.
12. In order to receive privileges like dessert or sweet treats, you must eat your dinner.
13. Asking if you can say an ugly word is still saying the ugly word. It is not allowed and will still get you in trouble. For example, saying to Daddy, “Mommy said that I cannot say the word (insert four letter word here). Is that true? Can I really not say (four letter word) because I just heard you say (four letter word)?”
14. You must wear clothes in order to go outside. This an extreme hardship for Jack and something that we have to rehash every single day.
15. When in the bathtub, all of the water will stay in the tub – no using the toys to pour water out onto the floor or using your mouth to spit water onto the floor. Ahem, Ellie.
16. Telling your mom or dad “no” when they ask you to do something receives swift punishment.
There, now the truth is out. I am so ashamed.
Please feel free to offer words of support for the children. I am sure that it will be a comfort for them to know that you care and that their complaints were validated by others.
My hope is that, by exposing these truths, one day in the future Jack, Ellie and Gus can somehow move forward and break free of the binding chains of all of the bad things their mother always did.
Happy Mother’s Day to all of the mommies. The good ones and the bad ones.