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Supermom Or Super-Liar?

Seeing as there are quite a few people left in this world who have yet to purchase a copy of Naptime is the New Happy Hour – a book I neglected my child to write – here is another chapter (for free) in the hopes that you will fall even more deeply in love with me and want to shower me with praise…or write a horrible review on Amazon.

SUPERMOM OR SUPER-LIAR?

So there my daughter sits, sprawled out on a leather chair, eyes glazed over, fingers running OCD style over her purple blanket, watching her fourth episode of Wonderpets. I glace her way wondering silently if I’m the worst mother on the planet for needing to get my bills paid (and read the latest on Paris Hilton) while not having my daughter interfere. Just a half hour I tell myself which inevitably turns into “One more episode mommy! Please!”

“No. I’m sorry, sweetie, but it’s time to turn the television off and play outside for awhile.”

“I just want to watch a little more TV,” she answers simply, quietly.

And I just want to read the Internet a little bit longer. It seems like a win-win situation, except for those pesky warnings about too much TV giving her ADD and liquefying her little still forming brain. I imagine all the other moms who are at this moment coming up with some great project to do with their child or children, a project that involves gluing and glitter, cutting shapes out of construction paper, tracing the outline of a leaf or even worse, cavorting with nature.
Maybe I should just stick a huge pile of cookies in front of her and a gallon of chocolate milk to wash down the Happy Meal she just ate I silently berate myself, while switching the TiVo to Wonderpets: Save the Pandas. I glance back at my comatose toddler; is that drool coming off her chin? I want to slit my wrists out of guilt right now. But I don’t. I finish paying my bills and try to find out why the latest celebrity coupling just broke up. Never far from my mind though is my daughter, who although happier than a gay man at a Cher concert, is obviously not getting the best of her mother.

This self loathing moment has been brought to you by your local Smug-mamma; those moms who will look you straight in the eye and say, “Oh, my child doesn’t watch TV.” We’re surrounded by them –moms who are busy trying to outdo each others’ parenting on every level. Obviously not every woman is like this. Most are mere mortals. But when faced with a self proclaimed Supermom, you may not be able to help feeling like your parenting style is more on par with Andrea Yates when reflected in their glow. But the thing to remember, the thing that will save you, is these women lie often. At the very least their insecurities make them prone to major exaggeration.

When a man has the nerve to ask a woman how many sexual partners she’s had, no matter what the woman says, the man tacks on at least five more, right? I actually think men are onto something. Hey, who among us hasn’t shaved a one-night stand or four from our spotty sexual past? Guess what, women can utilize this trick in a different arena: the competitive, cutthroat mom sport of “I do everything better than you.” I call this New Mommy Math and you don’t have to have passed algebra to master it; it’s all about easy addition.
When Smug-mamma tells you straight to your face that she absolutely allows only one hour of mind-enriching, educational TV a day, just go ahead and add two hours. If she tells you ‘no TV ever!’ – add six. It’s that simple.

With this trick up your sleeve, you can decipher devious lying about: Sugar consumption, discipline, how much “household help” they utilize, cleaning, yelling, sex (not) having…and more! If you think you don’t need my help, think again. Smug-mamas are everywhere and they can strike at any time. You’ll be at the park having a perfectly great conversation with a real mom about breakfast cereal.

“God, remember Count Chocula? I used to live on that stuff.”

“Oh yeah, but what ever happened to Boo Berry? The one with the ghost on the cover and the blue marshmallows? I haven’t seen it since I was a kid!”

Suddenly, Smug-mama will burst out from behind a see-saw and blurt out, Tourettes style, “Oh we would never let Dakota-Ryder eat sugary cereal. We’re a sugar-free household. Dakota-Ryder-Banjo only eats All Bran No-Trace-Of-Anything-That-Tastes-Remotely-Edible Flakes from Whole Foods. It’s only eighty-five dollars a box.” Sounds good. Really. Gee, you got a coupon for that?

Your first reaction will possibly be to recall with horror that your son ate a fruit roll-up and half a muffin (FINE cupcake) for breakfast and you’ll feel terrible and less-than. But wait – stop – use your New Mommy Math. Bran Flakes my ass. Sure, Smug-mama may have offered that up, but no toddler who has working gums would let that soggy crap past his lips. She’s lying. Go ahead and switch Bran Flakes to Corn Pops and you may be getting closer to the truth. Now, add a few tablespoons of sugar sprinkled liberally on top and you’re probably somewhere in the actual vicinity. Feeling better?

Similarly if Smug-mama tells you her child is only allowed two small cookies after dinner, feel safe adding five more. If she tells you no cookies, only fruit, go with eight. See? Now you’re starting to get it. The formula is using the inverse – the more super the mom, the more super the liar.

My husband and I once went out of obligation to a function at a pseudo friend’s house for “adults” only. The host, a woman I never liked that much, was the mom of three rambunctious boys. There was expensive wine served and delightful canapés. It wasn’t all bad. But the first thing I noticed was that the house was immaculate – not a Hot Wheel in sight. Of course, you know me; I couldn’t keep my trap shut for a second.

“How do you do it? How can your house be this clean with three boys around? You actually have clean guest towels and no hair in your sink. I don’t think my sink’s been hairless since the early 90’s. What’s your secret?”

“I actually love cleaning. I clean everyday anyway so when a party comes up I’m already halfway there,” Smug momma responded with a fake smile.

I practically had an aneurism on the spot. By the way, I should also tell you this woman actually claims to enjoy making soups from scratch and loves to email recipes and humorous chain mail with subject lines like Why I Love My Girlfriends! “I normally wouldn’t send this kind of email but this one’s really funny you guys!!” She’s the reason spam blocking was invented.

Out of necessity, I turned heel and headed for the bar to procure a much needed flavored Martini. Once the alcohol helped cleared my head, I was ready to do some slightly more advanced Mommy Math. Loves to clean? Either she’s been pilfering her son’s Ritalin or she has a worse relationship with the truth than Dick Cheney. I mentally added a housekeeper two days a week minimum, decided that the word “cleaning” could loosely be translated to getting out of the way to a day spa for a mani/pedi/seaweed wrap so the housekeeper can do her job and tacked on some round the clock daycare. I felt so much better I celebrated with a couple more martinis.

Sometimes the only remedy for an overdose of smug is to get yourself in the company of some real moms for a reality check. Real moms will let you in on the fact that they are sometimes inconsistent with their discipline­­ –that they have at times totally lost it over a minor infraction, like their toddler’s totally normal refusal to take a bath when asked very nicely and promised “no washing of hair.” Real moms will call you in tears because their kid hasn’t stopped barfing since she stupidly let him have three huge pieces of cake at a three-year-old’s birthday party. Real moms know that trying to limit TV watching to a half hour a day is about as realistic as Kelly Pickler trying to maintain that she didn’t get a boob job. Real moms will tell you that their four and a half-year-old is only 80% potty trained. Real moms know that when it comes to being a parent, there is no perfect score card. No matter how many hours you spend sitting on the floor coloring, reading stories, kissing boo-boos and singing songs, there will be times you fall short. And most of us just try to accept that as best we can.

But even real moms aren’t immune to the urge to keep up with the Smug-mama joneses. Sometimes you’ll find yourself shaving the actual hours you have a sitter to your close friends or feigning surprise that your Little Miss Loves To Read knows all the words to every Backyardigan’s song. It’s natural. We live in a competitive world. Like men never lie to other men about their salary, dick size or Lifetime membership to Hair Club for Men?
So okay, fine, my daughter regularly eats cookies, never eats vegetables and watches two full hours of TV a day. There I said it. Whatever, go ahead and judge… and… okay, add two more hours of TV while you’re at it.

Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on August 28, 2008 3:37 pmUncategorized37 comments  

37 Comments

  1. Backpacking Dad said,

    The guilt was overwhelming. You win. (Nothing to do with the fact that as I read this chapter my daughter was plunked in front of the tv watching Signing Time and I’m damn sure she’ll be watching one more episode before I turn the thing off.)

    Bought them.

    | August 28, 2008 @ 3:54 pm

  2. Anonymous said,

    As Paris would say:
    “Loves it”

    | August 28, 2008 @ 4:04 pm

  3. The Mommy said,

    Perfect. I love math. And my kids are also watching Barney at this very moment…right after they had a slightly nutritous lunch followed by cookies for dessert. I never was a very good liar…

    | August 28, 2008 @ 4:22 pm

  4. Surfer Jay said,

    Right now my boy is trying to shove Bill Clintons bursting big red nose in his slobbering mouth from on the tv from the recorded convention last night. But I’ll deny it to anyone else.

    Your views of the world around us and the way in which you put it into words never ceases to amaze. Funnny stuff.

    | August 28, 2008 @ 4:25 pm

  5. Kristin.... said,

    Yes, yes and more yes. Oh my god yes. I love you. Can I stalk you now?

    :)

    | August 28, 2008 @ 4:47 pm

  6. Mama Bee said,

    Amen, sista!

    | August 28, 2008 @ 4:52 pm

  7. MereCat said,

    I’ve read both of your books and even give them as gifts to new moms. Love them! Love them, love them!

    | August 28, 2008 @ 5:09 pm

  8. Anonymous said,

    So?

    | August 28, 2008 @ 5:25 pm

  9. June said,

    Oh, i loved it! I have two stepsons (7 & 5). They are only here on the weekends, but i still find their toy guns and Nerf balls all over the house on any day of the week!

    Also, we don't have TV at my house because i refuse to pay for cable, but we spend a lot of time at grandma's house using her DVR to record our shows.

    My favorite part was the 'woman who loves to clean'.

    | August 28, 2008 @ 5:37 pm

  10. Carolyn...Online said,

    I love it. Loved the party scene with the liar cleaning mom. She totally has help. And robot children. What? I judge them when they lie to me.

    | August 28, 2008 @ 5:53 pm

  11. Aunt Becky said,

    Ain’t it the truth?

    | August 28, 2008 @ 6:12 pm

  12. The Bugala's said,

    I love it! Thanks for being a real mom! My son is vegging on the couch next to me watching Little Bear…one more episode then it is naptime!

    | August 28, 2008 @ 6:13 pm

  13. Coma Girl said,

    As always you’re hysterical! I have to pick up that book this weekend!

    | August 28, 2008 @ 6:17 pm

  14. CaraBee said,

    I have read Sippy cups, but not yet Naptime. I vow to go out and get it NOW. Well, as soon as the baby wakes up, because naptime really is MY time. I actually really needed this today because I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed in the mom department. Thanks for the laughs and the me-too.

    PS. I think I know that smug-mamma.

    | August 28, 2008 @ 6:36 pm

  15. maria said,

    Love your humor…love your books (own ’em!)…love your honesty!

    Thanks for making this whole thing a little easier!

    :)

    | August 28, 2008 @ 6:39 pm

  16. iMommy said,

    You just made yourself another sale, darlin’. That was an awesome chapter! Thank you SO MUCH for sharing… you just made me feel a LOT better about the fact that I worked from home yesterday, so my daughter got a short walk outside, a quick trip on the slide, and TV/coloring books for the rest of the day (and yeah, more TV than coloring books…)

    | August 28, 2008 @ 6:49 pm

  17. Piccinigirl said,

    ok, I’m buying the book..because I loved the first one so much (and I spit soda out of my nose at least 4 times reading it)

    plus I feel like less of a “shitty” mother after this for sure. Twins + Noggin means I get to pee in peace. If only for a minute :)

    | August 28, 2008 @ 7:49 pm

  18. LiteralDan said,

    Don’t take it personally that I did not read this post, because I skipped it just to save myself the pleasure of reading it in print. I finished your first book, loved it, and so I have the second one waiting to start.

    Now pretend that I didn’t get them from the library, and shower me with that praise to which I always feel entitled!

    | August 28, 2008 @ 8:07 pm

  19. Amy in Ohio said,

    Not only does she watch TV, while eating the cookies and non-organic juice, sometimes I skip right pass the Dora and Diego nonsense and she watches Project Runway and Flipping Out with me. Side by side, all bonding like.

    | August 28, 2008 @ 8:27 pm

  20. MetroDad said,

    This was fantastic. I’m off to buy your book now. Totally apologize for not getting it earlier!

    This excerpt reminds me of the time when I met a mom who claimed that her daughter had never watched television. I knew it was bullshit so I climbed into the sandbox where her daughter and mine were playing. I asked the other girl who she liked better, Dora or Bob the Builder? She immediately said Dora and told me her favorite episodes.

    That’s why I love kids. They don’t lie like their asshole parents.

    | August 28, 2008 @ 9:32 pm

  21. Laggin said,

    Smug mom at our grade school “couldn’t believe” I didn’t bring homemade goodies for teacher appreciation day. (I brought a Tippins’ pie, which is pretty damn yummy, in my book.) Later this woman snorted when Eldest was dressed as an Angel at Halloween (ok, it was a stretch…it’s pretend, ya know, but seriously, leave MY KID alone). I’d had it with her and said, “I see your daughter used rhyming tricks with her costume.”

    Yeah, the daughter was dressed as a witch.

    It was a beautiful moment when smug mom’s light bulb went on. She’s avoided me ever since.

    It’s one of the few times I had a clever line when I needed one.

    Still savoring the moment.

    | August 28, 2008 @ 11:07 pm

  22. Ms Picket To You said,

    is it me, or is the internet the only place where people tell the truth?

    | August 28, 2008 @ 11:09 pm

  23. IVF 4 Dummies said,

    Loved Sippy Cups and can’t wait for Naptime. I was saving it until I actually had my baby.

    Yours are the only parenting books I read. Love them.

    | August 28, 2008 @ 11:29 pm

  24. Mandy said,

    Seriously… when I admit that my kids watch up to 2 hours a day of TV, I felt like everyone was going to sign me up for a 12 step program. And good god, if anyone loves cleaning that much, they can come tackle the mess at my place. I’ll spring for the cleaning supplies.

    | August 29, 2008 @ 12:41 am

  25. Willow said,

    Thank you for this. I so needed the giggle this morning. It doesn’t matter how old your children get, super-mommy never goes away.

    | August 29, 2008 @ 6:53 am

  26. ComfyMom~Stacey said,

    Ahhhh… feel the bonding! I’m guilty of turning on Boomerang just so I can read blogs uninterrupted.

    | August 29, 2008 @ 1:43 pm

  27. WA said,

    Fine, OK? I’ll buy it. Sheesh. Now that’ll be two of your books I own. I hope you’re happy.

    | August 29, 2008 @ 6:06 pm

  28. heather... said,

    I just bought 37 copies!

    | August 29, 2008 @ 7:22 pm

  29. Laural Dawn said,

    Love it!
    I, too, do the junk food and tv thing. I hate to admit this, but the other day someone dropped their kids over for me to watch for an hour. When one hour turned into 2 I pulled out the rice krispie squares and turned on Playhouse Disney.
    They really do live in a banned tv/Whole Foods home and they LOVE me now!
    The only problem is now they want to come for more playdates.

    | August 29, 2008 @ 9:26 pm

  30. Anonymous said,

    that’s good stuff.

    | August 29, 2008 @ 10:40 pm

  31. Bridget said,

    The best are the lies on some of the message boards out there… if you’re kid isn’t watching tv, then why the hell is there at least one (usually more) post by you about every hour all day long??? hmmm? What is your child doing?

    My child is watching Little Einsteins as we speak. 😉 And my 11 m/o… he got a big, ol’ piece of cake last night. Yep.. raspberry-chocolate cake. He loved it!

    Thanks for the post!

    | August 30, 2008 @ 2:53 pm

  32. Debby said,

    Cleaning mom sounds a lot like my husband’s ex wife. Thin, red haired, perfectly groomed, perfect clean house (which she stands around in apologizing for the mess and filth). What mess? What filth? But I’d never say that, because her apologies are actually a prompt. You’re supposed to begin telling her how perfect her house is. She’s a tiny little angry person with no self control and you walk on egg shells around her because she’ll wig out about nothing at all. I believe that all house cleaning marvels are psychotic. Look at Martha Stewart.
    My house is tidy, but it won’t win any prizes. When the kids were small, even tidy was an accomplishment.

    | August 30, 2008 @ 3:56 pm

  33. becky w. said,

    Okay so I am a little late reading this. But I am officially in love so I must run out and buy your books NOW! Because I? Am not a SuperMom! Thanks for the laugh!

    | August 31, 2008 @ 6:28 pm

  34. Daisy said,

    Real mom vs. supermom: perfect. I love your formulas!

    | September 1, 2008 @ 12:28 am

  35. Cassie said,

    My SIL always bragged about not giving her little darling any sugar. She freaked when my grandmother gave her daughter a vanilla wafer. Then she had baby #2 and it all went to hell. Baby #1 cries, and she just hands over the candy. It definitely taught me a lesson…I will never say that I won’t allow my kid sugar, TV, etc.

    | September 1, 2008 @ 1:12 am

  36. AztecQueen2000 said,

    Read Naptime and loved it! Now I can feel less guilty about letting my kid watch Green Eggs and Ham ten times in a row on YouTube and splitting cookies with her!

    | September 2, 2008 @ 6:17 pm

  37. Life as the mother of 4 said,

    So funny! Reminded me of the time I let my son watch a Blue’s clues episode on YouTube over and over again only to realize someone had replaced the dialogue with obscenities! Not my proudest moment.

    | September 5, 2008 @ 4:45 pm

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